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  1. #1
    jasminej is offline Newbie
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    Virtual Assessment of ELLs

    With schools quickly moving back to virtual learning, if they're not already doing so, what are some of the best and most effective ways to assess ELLs through a platform like Google Classroom? Would it mostly rely on having video calls with students? Are there additional methods of assessments within a virtual classroom that anyone has used with any success?

  2. #2
    Skrej's Avatar
    Skrej is offline Key Member
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    Re: Virtual Assessment of ELLs

    It wouldn't have to necessarily be live, but video could work. You could record video clips of yourself speaking, and then have students record their responses.

    You wouldn't even have to use video if you did that - it could be a set of audio-only questions or speaking prompts - somewhat similar to any of the big name standardized tests (TOEIC, TOEFL, IELTS, etc.) used for gauging spoken English proficiency.

    You'd need to develop your own scoring rubric or grading system to compare results in a meaningful way.

    I'm only passingly familiar with Google classroom, but I believe there are add-on extensions for Chrome which allow audio or video recordings. Alternately, students could record themselves, and upload the resulting audio/video clips.

    If you're familiar with one of the big-name LMS systems (Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, etc.), they already have built in audio-visual recording capability. You just have to specify what type of answers you want when you set up the questions. They all have free versions, although of course the free versions have some reduced functionality. Canvas (which my institution uses) has a built in video editor that lets you record or rip video, then insert questions wherever you want in the video. The video plays normally, but when it reaches one of the places you've hidden a question, stops until the student answers the question before it will resume playing the video.

    It's designed to force students to watch the whole video instead of just skipping through it, but could be adapted for something like you're wanting as well. I'm not sure if it's available in the free version of Canvas or not.

    The bigger problem I've found with remote instruction of ELLs is that (at least in my Adult Learning Center student demographic) is that computer literacy skills are virtually non-existent. Even if they do have some knowledge of computers, they either may not have one in their home, or have internet. The majority of our students are from South America or the horn of Africa, and have minimal to no formal schooling, along with minimal literacy even in their native language, so you might as well ask them to fly a plane as use a computer.

    That's partially why we teach computer literacy along with civics and ESL. However, that only helps if you've had time to introduce the computer skills BEFORE going remote....

    What we found, is that although many of our students can't use a computer, they do know how to operate a smartphone, and most have one of those. During our first remote session (where we had to go 100% remote with only about a week's notice), was to have teachers record lessons that were uploaded to Youtube (because Youtube is easily accessible on a smartphone), along with paper handouts and packets that were sent home with students.

    We didn't formally assess them however until we resumed in-person instruction several months later.

    I also teach some entry-level and remedial English classes for college students, the majority of whom are non-native international speakers, and with them, the technology is completely different. They've grown up with computers, and just need to familiarize themselves with some of the English vocabulary regarding computers and learn the LMS system we use (Canvas). Even the ones who speak hardly any English still have solid computer skills. I give them some basic English computer nomenclature, give them a few faux assignments (non-graded) designed to familiarize them with how to upload various file types and participate in discussion boards (forums), and access and submit quiz answers.

    Once they've figured that out, then even though we're meeting face-to-face, almost all assignments are submitted online. Back when I had to take my college classes online, it was a fairly seamless transition to remote instruction, aside from actually getting students to log on for the lectures. Should we need to go remote at some point in the future, then it'll just be a matter of doing video lectures (we use Zoom) instead of meeting in person. The rest is already online. I do still give paper handouts in class, but everything is also available online, so they know where to get the information online as well.

    Circling back to the question regarding assessment - how do you assess students normally? Listening, reading, and even writing assessments are all relatively easy to adapt to online format (albeit potentially time-consuming). You might run into some infringement issues posting copyrighted materials online, even if access is restricted to only your students.

    Edit: Of course, there are various online language learning programs (Burlington English, Rosetta Stone, etc.) that have their own assessments built in.
    Last edited by Skrej; 30-Nov-2020 at 04:20. Reason: added, then typo as per post #3
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  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Virtual Assessment of ELLs

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrej View Post
    Edit: Of course, there are various online language learning programs (Burlington English, Rosetta Stone, etc.) that have their own assessments build in.
    Edit of edit- built?

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