Context: Students in this PG Dip course are professionals working in various educational contexts. The design of the assessment and course is demanding, but it’s geared towards building a cohort of practitioners, potentially positioned to bring about meaningful change in online learning design practices.
Purpose: The assessment is ultimately summative, but it includes formative elements, where students produce texts and artefacts and receive feedback throughout the course. The final assessment is a Learning Design Rationale, which provides evidence of students’ design choices, rather than the student’s ability to write or answer questions. Students are assessed using a rubric, which is used for both the formative and summative assessment.
Process: In the context of ERT, students were given more support and scaffolding than usual. They received four pieces of supporting material: 1) an assessment brief; 2) a recorded explanation of the assessment; 3) the assessment rubric; and 4) a basic rationale template. There was also more regular engagement on Zoom (biweekly) and individual support via WhatsApp. In addition to formally reviewing each other’s work, students could volunteer to present their work in live Zoom sessions and receive peer feedback.
Outcomes/ Lessons learned: Building community among students who were now scattered was very important. Providing supportive cyclical engagement allowed us to respond to students’ needs, rather than corralling their thinking with restrictive structure. Although templates are useful, in future, doing away with that structure would allow us to the extent to which students had internalised a design thinking approach. The takeaway from ERT was that we ought to challenge the paradigm that sharing work reduces student learning. Communal and collaborative practices around the assessment improved the quality of the learning experience for students who were otherwise unable to engage with each other.
Recommendation: Providing students with more opportunities for collaboration and mutual support, while working on individual assessments, builds the student-to-student support community and enhances the learning experience.