On Study Skills and Examination

Another useful video by Dr Stephen Chew on study skills and examination.

Examinations could be highly effectively in mass assessing students of Higher Education in an objective way.  Most of us (as educators) have gone through the examination processes in Universities and Colleges.  Indeed examinations could be critical in determining the grades of students in a College or University degree, and such practice might not change in the foreseeable future.

Examinations are still useful for undergraduate and graduate studies up to PhDs, or even professional association admission or accreditation.  So it is important to learn those examination skills, in order to achieve good results and meet the goals.

Examinations are, however summative assessment tool and there are little that the learners could do to change the results of the examination, unless there are feedback to the learners on where they are fallen short of, in terms of their “mistakes” or “wrong answers” so they could correct.  

Whilst examinations are still important tool in assessing students in Higher Education, there is now a trend towards using various combination of formative and summative assessments – authentic or real life assessment tasks, problem based assignments, workplace projects, and workplace based assessment as a more holistic educational tool in the assessment process, apart from the formal examinations.

In my post here, I share the following:

If assessment is so important in formal education, why do people still prefer to adopt the instrumental teaching based principally on mass lecture, tests and examination rather than assessment as an effective pedagogy?  Take a test or examination, and if you could pass it, you are qualified for a pass of the unit.  Isn’t it simple?

Some of us might have watched this video.

So, a lot of students would ask a basic question: Are the lecture materials delivered by the teacher during the lesson to be tested in the tests and  examinations? If not, could we focus just on what is to be tested or examined, and leave the rest to be “learnt” outside the classroom?  This is exactly the type of questions most students are asking in each semester, in a traditional lecture type of education and learning. Is that what the educators are most concerned too?  Teaching the content of examination or test to the students, so students could achieve high marks in the assessments. So, why not teaching to the test?

A test and or examination is a typical assessment tool used in education for decades. That’s where students could demonstrate their competency, and that is how assessment is conducted in most schools.  And if students are learning in online distance education, then they would be expected to submit the standard assignments (say completing a 2,000 words essay or answering a series of questions as required in the problem or project set), attend the examination, and if they pass in both assessment, congratulations!

Doing assessment requires more than the mere completion of the written assignments.  An excellent example of assignments as shown here requires the preparation and collection of evidences, and through an exploration and research process in the assessment, the learners would be able to demonstrate the competency required.  Also learners could identify their own learning needs and gaps in the learning process, when working through the assignments.  With the feedback from peers and or facilitators, the learner could also identify what would need to do to improve his or her learning.  These will all involve sensemaking (giving meaning to experience) and metacognition (cognition about cognition or knowing about knowing).

Is proctored examination the solution for accreditation of xMOOCs?

Proctored examination  site-based-testing-deals-strengthen-case-granting-credit-mooc-students with Pearson.  Refer to this post on

Online learning venture edX continues to transform higher education by announcing today its agreement with Pearson VUE to offer learners the option of taking a proctored final exam.

“Our online learners who want the flexibility to provide potential employers with an independently validated certificate may now choose to take the course exam at a proctored test site,” said Anant Agarwal, president of edX.  “This option enhances the value of our courses in the real world, helps us maintain our goal of making high-quality education both accessible and practical and thus is a natural evolution of edX’s core philosophy of transforming lives through education.”

Identity and cheating online may be solved with such proctored examination.

Getting accreditation and awarding qualifications based on these xMOOCs would surely be good news for those who would like to pursue alternative pathways in education through their participation and assessment in the courses.

This may also be the last hurdle that HE has to overcome in order to get accreditation and recognition with their xMOOCs developed and so they would be rated as equivalence to the standard set for the mainstream courses.

Following this trend, I could foresee a similar growth pattern in the exploitation of x MOOC as a way to get accreditation in various HE institutions.

A fee for service would likely be required to get such accreditation with the xMOOC institutions (refer to this post too).

There may also be further proctored examinations or assessment organised by various other HE institutions to allow students who have completed the x MOOC be exempted from attendance of the courses.

Dialogue and conversation in Online Education and Learning

Here it comes, what I have once also liked to express:

“AH, you’re a professor. You must learn so much from your students.”

This line, which I’ve heard in various forms, always makes me cringe. Do people think that lawyers learn a lot about the law from their clients? That patients teach doctors much of what they know about medicine?

Yet latent in the sentiment that our students are our teachers is an important truth. We do in fact need to learn from them, but not about the history of the Roman Empire or the politics of “Paradise Lost.”

There were many good stories illustrating how people teach doctors how to cure diseases, or lawyers learning a lot from the cases they dealt with the clients.  Here in my previous posts on story telling – story telling.

It makes good headlines to claim that MOOCs and their ilk signal “the beginning of the end” for higher education. But that’s mostly blustery rhetoric. As Siva Vaidhyanathan put it, “I wish pundits would stop declaring that MOOC’s are revolutionary when they are merely interesting (not that there is anything wrong with that).” What’s a more measured reaction to the MOOC trend, then?

As I have shared in my previous posts, the x MOOC has decimated the connectivist MOOC but not the LEARNING associated with the connectivist MOOCs.  Cathy says in her post:

 True learning is a dialogue,” it is clear to me that he has never taken an online course.  Lots are dialogues. Extremely effective ones. At the same time, he romanticizes a bit too much about the dialogical nature of traditional higher education.  Lots of what profs do in the classroom is so monologic as to be narcissistic.   There are bad versions of MOOCs, and bad versions of traditional education, or Massively Outdated Traditional Education (MOTEs).   We have to make distinctions.

I am “tired” of the debates between the two, mainly because there are many pros and cons with each approaches. When MOOC really scaled to a huge scale – say tens of thousands, the learning is surely machine or tool gauged, as no institutions could afford the time and money to have any human doing the assessment. Such forms of assessment could be perfectly matched with the public examinations, where MC, T/F, and short answers could be matched with standard answers. What does a 100% mean? A perfect match with the answers the questioners (professors, educators) have set. To what extent would that count as education? 100%. How about when people are out there at work? What are the questions? What are the problems? Are there 100% perfect right answers? So, the issues with MOOC include: What does learning mean, when we just focus on examinations, or even the mere “right or wrong” answers matching with the “learning outcomes”?

There are no “right” or “wrong” MOOCs, as any one could argue that these MOOCs are absolutely revolutionary, and right for having them open to the world, for free. Aren’t these MOOCs satisfying the urge for free open education? Why people are still not happy when they are free? Aren’t the professors doing a great job of educating the world?

Jesse argues in this post: “MOOCs are like books, good when they’re good and bad when they’re bad. There is evil they can help do and evil they can help undo. Emerson writes in“The American Scholar,” “Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst” (56).”

Finally, education and learning is not merely giving out the content, testing the students to see if they have got the right answers in assignments or examinations, though they may be important for course validation and institution accreditation.  It is about engaging people (both professors, educators, learners) to interact with each others, in the form of conversation, discourse, and to dialogue about the content, information, and learn about the implications and applications in study, at work, or in life.

Technology could be a powerful tool in the course of education and learning, in particular in MOOC, especially in the mediation of communication, or the facilitation of cooperation and collaboration, through wiki, Google Doc, or social media.

The current affordance of media and tools that are tailored to the learners need to be more effectively applied in the x MOOC, together with the “teaching, cognitive and social presence” for a transformation of education and learning.  Tools and media alone won’t change the world.  It’s the people, the leaders, the learners who work and learn, and converse together, that would change the world.

Photo: Google