Delivery of courseware, tutorials and formative assessment with WebOL

Ray Harper

Abstract


Computer-based assessments (CBA) can be formative or summative. This paper will focus on formative assessments and courseware but some of the comments will also apply to summative assessments. The various reasons for using CBA
such as to automate marking and to link teaching and assessment have been discussed elsewhere, (for example Brown, Bull and Pendlebury 1997). It may be anticipated that most modern CBA systems will enable delivery through the World Wide Web. This reflects its great reach, its presence in educational institutions and the availability of free browsers. To construct an assessment you need to create some questions, to package them together to make the assessment and enable its
delivery to the users. There are various software packages available that enable the construction of assessments and may also enable their distribution and management. Some systems were outlined by Brown, Bull and Pendlebury (1997) and The Computer Assisted Assessment Centre at the University of Luton (http://www.caacentre.ac.uk/resources/web/onlres4.shtml) provides a summary of some of the main software packages available. Some software packages such as
WebCT (http://www.webct.com), and Blackboard (http://www.blackboard.com) are enterprise solutions that include elements of assessment management. Some of
these systems have significant limitations inherent in their design such as (i) systems designed as enterprise solutions that cannot be installed by individual users, (ii) systems with limitations in terms of distribution media, (iii) systems that
use proprietary or system specific software and (iv) others that only allow the construction of assessments not other materials. Some do not appear to be userfriendly in terms of how questions are constructed or how the system is installed.
The purpose in designing WebOL (http:// www.luton.ac.uk/biology/webol) was to produce a system that was (i) able to produce a range of courseware materials
based on web pages; (ii) a small simple system that was quick and easy to use by an individual though could be run at an enterprise level; (iii) a system that was based on standards and (iv) one that could be run from a variety of media.

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