Benchmark for using Online Assessments and Forums

In designing an online course, one has to be mindful of several factors. The online student is not in contact with the lecturer in a physical way. With this concept, the thinkers in the field no longer embrace lecturer to describe the role being played by the person offering the course because the technology is now the medium through which the content is presented. So the facilitator, once called lecturer, has to ensure that the student learns what is needed through their guidance and use of technology. The design of the online course has to be closely aligned with the learning principles and practices in the field of education. Such a design should cause meaningful learning to happen and enhance student engagement and knowledge building. It is true that online course design comes with great challenges, but all can be overcome through proper planning and employment of online learning tools.

Online learning does not seek to replicate face-to-face lectures, which in themselves can be grossly inadequate to meet the unique needs of each learner. Some aspects of the classroom delivery will never happen in online delivery. For example, student will not be subjected to didactic teaching and lengthy lectures. Online learning is flexible, interactive, engaging, gives opportunity for problem-solving and knowledge building. However, it is expected that online students be given equivalent learning activities, assessments and opportunities to interact with the content, as their colleagues in face-to-face setting.

In light of the unique learning experiences in the online environment, what would you suggest as best practice for handling online assessments?

Should online students be given more graded assessment pieces than their on campus counterparts?

How many forums should be placed on a course? What method would help to determine a number that could be used as benchmark? Explain your rationale.