MU Sites offers a unique opportunity for your students to become digitally competent in learning how to design, create, and update a website. Using MU Sites as part of your course curriculum requires you as professors to adapt class tests, quizzes, and projects accordingly to supplement your students’ online learning. This section discusses some suggestions on how to test and emasure student proficiency in the digital technology they use for class.

“The first thing to realize is that you cannot separate the user from the device. iPads, Chromebooks, and tech tools themselves don’t demonstrate great learning; it’s about what students do with the technology that matters. The technology itself is simply neutral. Consider: would a teacher grade the pen a student used to write an essay? Of course not! They grade what the student writes. It’s what students create with the tool that is the heart of learning and assessment.” – edtechteacher.org

This quote presents the idea that learning, whether online or on paper, is still fundamentally a summative product of the students’ abilities. Digital assignments will always involve students, their thought processes, and several choices along the way. In essence, professors should always grade not only the final product, but also the research, ideas, and choices students make in their creative work. Rubric creators such as Rubistar emphasize not only the content of the website or blog, but also the design and how the student chose the fonts, layout, and color scheme of his or her site. Twitter accounts can be linked to student websites and University of Wisconsin-Stout has a comprehensive system for assessing the use of Twitter for assignments, emphasizing not just content, but also creative use of tweets.

One way that faculty can encourage student collaboration is by letting students give feedback on their peers’ work. Since students are high consumers of Web content, students are qualified to comment on online work. Rubrics that look more like worksheets (e.g., blog comments rubric and blog content rubric) allow these students to respond in insightful ways and give you as the professor ideas on how an audience responds to a specific piece of student work.

Using analytics to track student progress in sharing messages and work with others is another way of grading digital assignments. Since WordPress allows users to integrate with Google Analytics, part of a student’s grade can be linked to how many visitors they were able to attract over a given period of time.

Another way of creative testing that revolves around domains is having students work together in groups to create a wiki or website devoted to a certain industry topic, and then inviting professionals from that industry to rank the group websites in order of usefulness. This way, students understand the value of their work and take away real-world application from the project. If you are dealing with a topic that has less practical application in the real world, consider having students submit their work to a multimodal scholarly journal — they may get published! For examples of journals that deal with webtexts, read Assessing scholarly Mulimedia: A Rhetorical Genre Studies Approach.

Networked assessment of websites deals with how connected the content is within the field that the content addresses. For example, how many sources does the content link to? How many followers or mentions did the content garner? By assessing how content fits into a network of an already existing conversation, students are assessed on how many layers of connectivity a student’s work can achieve.

No matter what assignment is given, in a digital context, creative assessment is needed. Whether you rely on networks, analytics, or another method, remember to focus on the process and not just on the final product.

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