Reflections on a pilot of an online course: objective testing

DL_online_image1Well, we ran our first set of online course as part of the Digital Literacy Programme. This was to allow the Elevate Team to pilot various learning designs, support requirements and staff workload.

The hub for the online courses is available from:

I designed and implemented the online course “An introduction to the LearnUCS (Blackboard) Quiz Engine”

The aims are to make teaching staff more aware of the potential of objective testing as a teaching, learning and assessment tool, and to ensure they have the technical skills to design and develop an objective test.

By the end of this course participants should be able to;

  • LO1: Explain what we mean by the term objective test
  • LO2: Review a number of ways objective tests have been used in UK HE to enhance the learning experience
  • LO3: Design, develop and deploy an objective test in a module on LearnUCS
  • LO4: Accessing the results through the Grade Centre

David Mullett facilitated the e-Portfolios for the reflective learner, and has reflected on the effectiveness of his course, at

A headline message for me from the learners is …

I have struggled with this but would never put the work in without the incentive of a course to follow so it’s been really useful for me

So, what happened? What have I learnt for the next time?

  • It was really enjoyable to run. I was really impressed with the work of those who participated. In fact, I would suggest (and based on their emails, they would agree) that the course was more demanding than the face to face equivalent, it terms of the effort they put in, the effective of the discussion boards was greater than the equivalent face to face discussion, and they had a tangible product to transfer to their actual teaching
  • I have included a few quotes from the end of course evaluation, it does indicate the need to think through some of the support methods. In particular, perhaps I should include a google hangout for bookable 1-2-1 support. It looks like we’ll be following up in January with some 1-2-1 sessions.
  • 5 staff sign up, and 3 completed the course (receive a certificate of achievement).
  • The learning design template seemed to transfer nicely to the course:
  • The costings (time) sheet indicated these courses are viable, especially to be rolled over for a re-run in February 2014. The team are designing a range of different learning designs, and levels of facilitation around about 30-35 hours of input for a 3-5 hour course. We are exploring areas where we can re-use material and learning tasks. An aim of the pilot was to evolve a realistic costing framework for an online course. This is available at:

So, how did the participants find it?

Did you feel the level of support was appropriate to your needs? How might we improve it?

  • I would probably need telephone support if doing anything similar again because I got stuck. Or maybe just the opportunity for a 1/2 hr drop in on the Thursday or Friday am to ask any burning questions.
  • The support was excellent. I found the course content challenging at points and I am completely new to this approach but when I needed help it was provided. My emails asking for help were answered quickly and the help given was easy to understand and encouraging in tone. The later of these is particularly important from the point of view of morale!

Was it worth it?

  • I enrolled for this course for two reasons. First because I think it is important to understand what we are asking of students in using the VLE. Second, because I want to use this approach in my teaching. This is a good way of learning- learning by doing with appropriately selected reading to contextualise the activities and help at hand when needed.
  • I enjoyed the course and it focused me on the areas that were important to develop the use of the online resources but also allowing me to see what further aspects where available to access in my own time e.g. help videos

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