Students are generally motivated to take a continuing education course because they want to learn the content. In a face-to-face format you often "just know" whether the students are getting the material. Exercises and a variety of other tools are used for this purpose, however in most cases these are not given to the instructor for evaluation. The MLA evaluation may be the formal instrument you employ for assessment at the end of the day.
When you take your course online, you will need more concrete measurements to determine whether students have completed the class. You don't have the visual benefit of knowing that a student has been in the class throughout the day. If your goal is to see if students have read through a module, activities can be designed that do not allow progress until a particular action is performed. This prevents students from simply signing up for a class that does not have a formal assessment tool and getting credit. The action can be as simple as 'click here to continue' or a short quiz question that must be answered correctly before progress is made.
Measuring learning outcomes is more complicated. It is difficult to write meaningful quizzes that help students know that they are meeting the course objectives. If you decide to choose this option, consider the weight you will give to the quality of the exercises. Is it more important that a student turned something in as a check point or that the student learned the material? How does your decision here compare to what you would require in a face-to-face environment?
Many software tools for online teaching provide assessment modules that collect and report back multiple choice and true/false questions. Questions can be embedded within a module or appear at the end of the course. A more difficult means of assessment requires a written summarization of the content or critical thinking exercise for students to apply what is being learned. This could be at key points throughout the course, or an overall assessment at the end of the course. This presents a burden on the instructor who will have to respond with individualized feedback. This type of assessment can be part of a stand alone or instructor lead course, however it requires that the instructor be willing to respond in a timely fashion to whatever text is submitted. Students' learning objectives will be best served if feedback is provided for each question answered.
For the Evidence-Based
Medicine for the Medical Librarian course
- student exercises are short answer/essay
- instructors give students critical feedback on each exercise turned in, however for those completing the course for MLA CE credit, there is no evaluation on the quality of what the student submits
- the student must submit all exercises to receive their CE credit