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Bring Inspiration Not Fear in Assessment

Today I received the Creative Commons (CC) digital credential – a certified badge, by Creative Commons as a souvenir and evidence to my three-month participating in its online course “Creative Commons for Educators“.

The total commitment of 60-100 hours sounded a little overwhelming at the beginning but the course assessment activities had made the whole learning process impressive and rewarding. I took different online courses over years especially in the format of MOOCs but was never this engaged. I think the CC certificate course has made a huge difference in the following ways:

1) It has very creative and inclusive assessment activities. Most MOOCs do not have consistent and well-planned assessment activities that are designed to facilitate learning. Instead, they use quizzes to test knowledge understanding. Not only because quizzes are automated and can be very timesaving when facing thousands of online learners, but also because many teachers in MOOCs still teach in a passive way involving only eyes and ears of learners. In CC certificate course, a high level of autonomy has been granted to learners to allow themselves to decide on what kind of outputs they want to submit for being assessed by a course facilitator. These can be a video, a PPT, a blog article, an essay, etc. In my decades of being a student in a course I never felt such a freedom regarding assessment. It feels tremendously great.

2) Dedicated facilitator. I attended the June 2021 round of the certificate course. It had one volunteer course facilitator Paul in my learner segment. Paul is a full-time faculty member at a university and only offers his support in being a facilitator on a part-time basis. He is one of several facilitaors in the same round of the course. The facilitator not only welcomes you to the course, introduce important information about the course, reminds you of the deadline, but also is responsible for assessing your assignments and offering feedback. There are 5-6 formative assignments based on the units, and one final project as the summative assignment. Certainly not an easy task for facilitator. But during the whole process Paul was always responsive to all my communications and never late for sending back scores and feedback on my assignments. The presence of a facilitator/teacher in the online learning journey is fundamentally encouraging.

3) Mix of formal and informal community. As MOOCs, this certificate course has forum discussions. However unlike ungraded discussion in MOOCs the discussions in the CC certificate course are graded. You can choose to summarize and reflect on your learning by closing the post with poking questions for other participants, or you can reply to other two existing posts as alternative. The course also embraces Slack app to build informal community among participants. All learners and facilitators are in the Slack channels under different hashtags. The CC community itself has several hashtags/channels on Slack to involve global conversations. So it is also a great way to expand these channels’ influence and outreach by including its ongoing learning communities.

Last but not least, someone may argue that it is because this course costs 500 dollars so that to quit it hurts the wallet. But to be honest I did quit a MOOC of 475 dollars before. In my case the cost of education does not keep me as it student. Considering the increasing dropout rate in universities, I doubt it is the case for many others. After all it is the value and beauty of knowledge that motivates us as learners to sit there and wonder what is next to come. Great educators know about it and they make sure that their students are able to get this experience under their teaching.

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