Distance Education: Testing and Evaluation

Distance education has had trouble since its conception with the testing of material. The delivery is fairly straightforward, which makes sure it is available to the student and he or she can read it at their leisure. The problem arises when the student is required to complete assignments and testing. Whether quizzes, tests, or examinations; Online courses have had difficulty controlling cheating because of the lack of teacher control. In a classroom situation the teacher can monitor students and visually uphold a level of integrity consistent with the institutions reputation. With distance education the student can be removed from supervision completely. Assignments have adapted by becoming larger, longer, and more thorough so as to test for knowledge by forcing the student to research the subject and prove they have done the work. Quizzes are a popular form of testing knowledge and many courses go by the honor system regarding cheating. Even if the student is checking questions in the textbook or online, there may be an enforced time limit or the quiz may be worth so little in the overall mark that it becomes inconsequential. Exams and bigger tests are harder to regulate. Obviously the mark-oriented students cannot be trusted with their own marks. In smaller tests a professor may employ another computer program to keep all other programs from running on the computer eliminating the possibility of help from the Internet. Used in combination with invigilator's, a pre-arranged supervisor trusted with over-looking big tests and examinations may be used to increase security. Many Midterms and Final examinations are held at a common location so that professors can supervise directly. Many of these examinations are still on the computer in which case the same program blocking software can be used. When the Internet became a popular medium for distance education many websites were founded offering secure exam software and packages to help professors manage their students more effectively.