The development of online assessment in the Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as a replacement for traditional written assessment

Michael J O’Rourke

Athlone Institute of Technology

The objective of this project is to examine if online or computer based assessment is a realistic alternative to written assessment. Electronic assessment techniques have evolved considerably in recent years; well beyond multiple choice assessments which is the favoured method in electronic assessment.
In the Moodle virtual learning environment (Moodle community, 2009), there are many different types of questions that can be set including multiple-choice, essay, matching, short answer, numerical, calculated, true/false, cloze (embedded), random, drag-and-drop and ordering. Assessments can be devised that include some or all of these question types. Multimedia images and objects may be embedded in questions quite easily. Feedback may be included in questions also.
The project researches continuous and final assessment types with various course groups using the facilities provided in the Moodle VLE. A literature survey is undertaken as part of this research to determine the state of the art and current practice in e-assessment. It also determines the development effort in terms of time and technical knowledge required by the lecturer to produce the assessments. This can be considerable and a major concern for academic staff. Short cut methods for generating questions are examined to cut down on the development time.
Limitations of the online assessment questions are examined. The project examines if all aspects of a module, including final exams, can be examined using Moodle assessment, or if it is more suitable as a continuous assessment tool. The experiences of other academic staff who use Moodle in Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) are  collated via a survey, so as to ascertain the usage of online assessment and attitudes to this concept. The feedback from department heads is collated to determine their views to e-assessment.

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