Project: The Web-Based Electronic Portfolio
As a Foreign Language Assessment Tool
Project web site: www.cabrillo.cc.ca.us/~jsiskin/. In addition, see cvc2.org/webct/ for the course. Contact the project director for password access.
Team members: H. Jay Siskin, Louis Compoginis and Bette Hirsch
Our original plan included audio and video cues. Although we were successful in incorporating a video clip into our question bank, we have not had the opportunity to develop these question types. This is the goal we will be pursuing in the future.
We had also included Spanish in our original action plan. Given the complexities of the French project, some of which are still unresolved, we decided to focus on the successful completion of the French, which will simplify the Spanish task. Remaining to complete as well is a valid set of outcomes that reflect student ability at the end of a year of study. Based on my years of teaching experience and materials development, as well as models developed at other community colleges, I have a good sense as to what those outcomes will look like. I therefore developed the test items with these in mind. However, we have asked for the support of the French department in this endeavor, and are awaiting their completed work.
We will classroom test the new set of materials by the end of the coming academic year and revise them if necessary. The completed testing apparatus will then be made a formal component of the French program.
Another lesson, alluded to several times above, was the fact that our plan proved too ambitious, in particular, in the technological domain. We learned that it is no longer necessary to start from scratch; much work has been done in the area of electronic delivery of content and that there is no detriment (or shame!) in using this work as a foundation for achieving the goals of our project. We were so impressed by the work we saw at the national project at George Mason University in December 1999 that we returned to Cabrillo with the idea that we could create and implement tools as polished as we saw demonstrated. We have certainly not given up on this idea. But we realized that we did not have the time nor the resources to achieve that professional quality over the course of a year.
WebCT gave us an enormous head start. We no longer had to invest as much time in technology but could focus more on content. This is not to say that WebCT did not present challenges. In order to make effective use of it, we had to expand our knowledge of software media applications, such as Photoshop, web editors, such as Go Live! and Dreamweaver, and HTML code.
Finally, a lesson that we still need to learn is whether we will need permission to use visuals scanned from print material and short reading passages in our test bank. Since the site is password protected, and the materials are being used for educational purposes, we feel reasonably confident that permission will not be needed. Nevertheless, before the larger implementation of our project, we will need to resolve this issue.
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