It is best practice for online courses to include three types of interaction for students. Students should be able to interact with the content, each other and the instructor. This interaction is fully realized when assessments move students beyond factual level knowledge. Students should have to apply their understanding of course content and concepts through discussions, presentations and reflections. All of these types of assessments can be achieved online.
In a distance course it can be easy to be concerned about cheating. For any type of assessment, it may be disconcerting that nothing is stopping students from looking up answers. However, if assessments ask students to apply knowledge and concepts, students will not be able to look up answers. Instead of worrying about students looking up responses, embrace it. Encourage students to look up the content necessary to answer questions, but assess and give feedback on the students’ ability to apply the content. Application asks students to think at a higher level and understand the content more thoroughly.
Lola Okolosie, in an article for The Guardian, ‘Why exclude Googling? It’s a cornerstone of life,’ addresses this issue. The key quote from the article is:
“…this isn’t about letting pupils cheat their way to success but rather how they can best apply critical understanding, doing so in a manner that complements the world we all now operate within.”
Lola makes a perfect point. The goal is to have students think critically and apply knowledge. If questions and assessments are designed with application in mind, it does not matter if students have access to Google or their textbook, in fact it could be beneficial. Students can find the baseline knowledge needed to answer questions, but they will be assessed on their ability to apply the content. Do not fight the culture and world of today, embrace it.
Okolosie, Lola (2015, April). ‘Why exclude Googling? It’s a cornerstone of life’. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/30/googling-in-exams-allowed-google-searches-gcse-a-level