Provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning during the term and to receive timely feedback so they can gauge their progress, keeping student's overall workload in mind. In the online environment, students generally have access to all their course materials, including during assessments. In addition, they may be in different time zones, or in challenging circumstances. As such, new strategies should be considered.

  • Develop a clear schedule for assessments, but be flexible: ensure that deadlines are easy to find in your LEARN course site, but be prepared to be flexible with them. Disruptions may occur, from technological to health-related, which can make deadlines difficult to meet. Consider avoiding weekend assessment deadlines, both to align more closely with technical support hours and to support student wellness.
  • Provide scaffolded projects: design projects or essays that have multiple steps (e.g., plan or outline, annotated bibliography, draft, and final submission). This step-wise process helps students stay on track, provides opportunity for feedback, and encourages academic integrity.
  • Use low-stakes assignments: many students find high-stakes, online testing stressful. Instead, consider using low-stakes quizzes, writing assignments (CTE) or other small assessments to give students frequent, but less stressful practice at applying concepts. The assessments should be worth just enough points to hold students accountable, but not so many (nor so numerous) that the activity becomes anxiety producing.
  • Move beyond simple facts: reinforce basic facts and concepts via quizzes, but also get students to extend their learning by applying concepts to new scenarios, synthesizing or analyzing concepts, or creating new ideas or materials with more open-ended assessments.  
  • Reconceptualize group projects:  group projects may need to be redesigned since students will not be able to meet in person or perhaps even synchronously. Group discussion boards in LEARN enable asynchronous sharing. Bongo Virtual Classroom is a viable tool for student groups to meet online.
  • Employ test banks: develop banks of questions that can be drawn from to provide multiple versions of quizzes. Check with your textbook publisher to determine if the question banks can be loaded into LEARN or Mobius (link to Waterloo Mobius site). Some textbooks also have their own online quizzing tools.  
  • Use online tools for collecting assignments: Various tools exist for collecting student work electronically, such as LEARN DropboxCrowdmark, and Bongo for video assignments. These are preferable to having students email their assignments as they make managing the assignments much easier. 
  • If you plan to use an online system (such as Mobius, Akindi or Crowdmark) please consider holding a mock exam in advance to allow yourself and your students to become familiar with the requirements.
  • Give generous parameters for tests and exams:
    • Increase the allotted time for everyone.
    • Give students additional time to upload answers. For example, if a two-hour test starts at 4:00 pm, allow students to upload their completed test in the 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm window. 
    • Have a backup strategy for students to submit answers if the primary way doesn't work. For example IST's Sendit secure file transfer service might be a good option for large files.

Waterloo Secretariat's Guidelines Pertaining to Learning Resources and Field Trips explain what ancillary fees can or cannot be collected from students with regard to learning resources (for example, lab coats, digital resources, software, etc.) and field trips. Additional guidance has now been provided for Temporary Covid-19 Learning Resources Exceptions.