A good online course permits reliable assessment of each student’s mastery of the material
Assessment must be comprehensive and reliable. The tests must assess each student’s mastery of all the material in the course.
Assessments should be frequent.
Assessments should be of two types: one type is self-administered, allowing the learner to continually monitor his or her mastery of the material. The other type is general – assessments are given to all learners and the instructor monitors the performance of each.
Because assessment online can be frequent, it is possible for good online courses to individualize instruction. More material and exercises can be provided in areas in which the student shows himself to be weak. A student may request an individualized curriculum, or her instructor may suggest one in light of assessment results. This is a strong advantage of online courses. It is possible for an instructor in a traditional classroom course to monitor student’s learning closely and to assign extra work where a student is weak. But this is a time-consuming and often hit-or-miss process for most instructors. The flexibility of online education permits frequent assessment and individualized curricula to be the norm.
Assessment must be reliable – we must know that the grading is accurate and that the student himself or herself took the assessment and without assistance. In the online world this requires careful administration of tests given for the purpose of grading. Several methods have been developed for being certain that the learner is the person who takes the assessment instrument and that he or she has access during the assessment only to materials permitted to all taking the exam. A good online course includes a method of secure assessment.