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Principles of Online Design
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4.2. Tracking and Evaluating Student Progress
4.2.1 Technological Literacy
The instructor should provide students with adequate time and resources to master the learning technologies prior to the delivery of course content.


A. Students and instructors need to learn and master the technology tools requires for an online course.

B. Know where to direct students when they have technical problems and/or questions.

C. An instructor may wish to hold a face-to-face technology orientation at the beginning of the course.

D. An an online technology module can be provided for students who live beyond the driving distance to FGCU.


Questions should be directed to IT Support at 239-590-7100;
This is an example of a technology orientation for a course. The student is required to use many of the technology tools that will be used during the course. The instructor could have those students who were able to come to an introductory face-to-face session complete the exercises during that time; and allow those who cannot attend to complete them online.
4.2.2 Module Progression
The instructor should be consistent in organizing and presenting modular/session/weekly instructional activities and facilitating student learning.


A. A consistent, clear course format will help students to navigate and stay oriented.

To help orient users, use consistent design format. The example here uses a consistent design in all madules to help the student know where they are.

B. Provide detailed instructions for course assignments and learning activities.

This is an example of an explanation of assignments. Make sure all assignments, projects, examinations, online discussions, and other functions include detailed directions for completion and submission.

C. Be clear and consistent in the due date of course assignments. Establish consistent deadlines for assignments, including bulletin board postings.

For example, if the course is designed using one module for each week in the semester, schedule assignment deadlines for the same day every week. Written assignments may be due on Friday and bulletin board postings on the following Monday.

Students develop a routine for submitting assignments and meeting deadlines if a pattern is formulated. Make sure to include detailed instructions for submitting assignments.

D. Place the responsibility for meeting submission deadlines on the students, but assist them to meet the deadlines.

Let students know technology is not an excuse for late assignments. Encourage students to always keep a copy of anything submitted electronically.

ANGEL allows assignments to be linked on the calendar. When students enter a course, all assignments due that week will appear on the course "Welcome" page if the assignments have been put on the calendar.

4.2.3 Tracking Progress
The instructor should track student learning progress in the online course to provide better advice and assistance.


A. Use online grids to track individual student learning progress in a course.

B. Use an online grade book to track student learning progress in a course.


Online grids may be used to track individual student progress through a course, either by using a checklist for noting received assignments or for posting grades. Confidentiality issues arise when posting grades and the use of passwords or code names may be needed to maintain confidentiality.

Course Management Systems generally include a gradebook where students can only see their own grades. ANGEL also provides a Learner Profile where each student can see their own progress through the course.
4.2.4 Evaluating Student Progress.
Evaluation activities should be appropriate for online instruction.


A. Distance learning students rely on e-mail, telephone, or online communication. Clearly explain how students will be evaluated.

B. Evaluation should include several assignments or expectations rather than just one or two exams or projects.

Give detailed information on how students will be evaluated. Be sure to include directions and deadlines for submitting assignments; special instructions for formatting and length of assignments; criteria for determining points; and rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling that need to be followed. By including this information on the course web site, less time will be spent responding to individual communications from students.

A grid can be used to clarify multiple assignments, due dates, and evaluation strategies. This provides several ways of evaluating student progress.

C. Set clear parameters for evaluating participation in an online course if you are evaluating student online participation.

One difference between face-to-face and online courses may be the decision to grade participation in online activities such as chat rooms or bulletin boards. Grading these activities encourages participation. When this is the case, students should be informed of expectations regarding the parameters that will be evaluated such as frequency and quantity of student participation.

D. Student web page may be used as a learning activity to be evaluated.

The FGCU student web server provides web space for each student.

Student web pages may also be incorporated into a class website for evaluation as an individual or a team project. Instructions for creating and uploading webpages are available.

Course Management Systems may provide web pages or other presentation tools for students.

E. Self-assessments are interactive lessons that provide students with immediate feedback while allowing them to work at their own pace, without the pressure of punitive marking (Dyreson, 1996).

Since self-assessments are not graded, students are not inclined to cheat and may identify areas that require immediate remediation.

Self-assessments may be voluntary or mandatory as determined by the instructor. Some Course Management Systems may provide self assessment tools.

F. Design and use online tests and examinations with caution.

Online testing programs are available to help instructors develop online formative self-assessments with immediate feedback or summative tests. Generally these are part of an online Course Management System, such as ANGEL, Blackboard, and Desire2Learn. Results from these test can only be accessed by the individual student, as well as the instructor.


G. When an online test/exam is chosen as a summative evaluation strategy, assign a small amount of the overall course grade to this evaluation activity.

According to Dyreson (1996), 1) protecting the integrity of the student answer database, and 2) preventing cheating during the exam are the primary security concerns associated with online evaluation. Integrity of the answer database can be maintained by limiting access to certain individuals such as instructor or instructional designer. Preventing cheating can be handled by proctoring tests and other means ( such as entry of an identification number, limiting the timeframe for test availability, displaying questions one-at-a-time).

H. Proctored tests/exams for online courses can be offered on and off campus.

The Testing & Assessment Office can be used for proctored testing.

I. Use other means to verify student learning performance.





If you choose not to use a testing center or proctor, you may wish to allow students to use any and all resources (open book) to complete an examination. This requires the use of short answer, essay, and problem solving questions that force students to apply higher order synthesis and evaluation skills in their responses.

How do you know whether or not the student is really doing his or her own work? You don't know. This may become evident if they take an examination at a testing center or with a proctor. If you administer an examination online, you may never know. It is possible to detect cheating by comparing exams with other writing samples or other student' exams.

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