Online testing has been playing an increasing role in Australian schools over the past few years.
In that time schools have been learning practical lessons, tips and pitfalls from running online assessments with their students. However, schools have many decades of experience with using paper-based tests and it is not always easy for schools to make the switch. So what should schools consider when running a test online?
The first lesson is that it can take longer to start a test than people expect.
- Most students have few difficulties logging onto school networks. However, just one student who doesn’t know their password can tie up the class teacher’s time.
- One or two faulty devices can be very disruptive. The class teacher will need to manage the specific individual whose machine isn’t working.
- If there is going to be an issue with the network or the bandwidth at the school, it is more likely to occur when all the students are accessing the same website at the same time i.e. when the demand is highest.
Preparing for these kinds of issues before the test will help the test run more smoothly.
- Check all the devices well in advance of a formal assessment.
- Check all the devices a couple of days before hand as well if you can.
- Ensure the devices have an up-to-date browser or lockdown browser.
- Run a technical readiness test for checking that a device is compatible and that your bandwidth is sufficient. Run it on all the devices you can.
- Plan for contingencies: A power cut or a fire alarm or a lock-down will be more disruptive for an online test than a paper-based test.
- If you can, have spare devices available.
- Have multiple adults in the room if possible.
Students typically appear to be more engaged by online tests than by paper-based ones. Even so, it is still wise to help students be ready for online tests.
- Notes, working out, ideas are still important in online tests. If the rules for the test permit it, let students have spare paper for notes, working or ideas.
- Students need to be reminded that going back and checking answers is still important. Students may rush through a test online because it is easier to click than write.
Aside from the issues above, students are best prepared for online assessment in the same way they are for paper-based assessment.
- Encourage students to take the assessment seriously but avoid making it appear stressful or threatening
- Stick with positive messages that encourage students to try their best rather than fear of negative consequences of poor performance
Last minute revision or multiple practice tests tend to be counterproductive. However, students should have an opportunity to practice using the online test platform before the proper test.