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Building Capacity In Assessments For MOOC creators

The National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB) has launched Mission Karymayogi to enhance governance through Civil Service Capacity Building. According to NTP, 2012 (The National Training Policy) the civil service officers are mandated to undergo trainings – both at entry into the service and at appropriate intervals during their career. While the DoPT (The Department of Personnel Training) has been created to cater to this need, reaching out to various State/ UT and central government departments and fulfilling the training needs for each is daunting!

To augment the ongoing efforts of the DoPT through an e-learning approach, Mission Karmayogi will impart training to civil servants through a platform called iGOT (Integrated Government Online training). This approach is going to provide higher flexibility and choices in learning through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). These courses will be open to eligible officers.

The need to have a course on assessments:

For any online e-learning platform to deliver the outcomes successfully, the courses also need to have robust assessments. Since these MOOCs have a high-stakes certification, it is all the more important to have a very scientific approach to intra-modular, intermodular and final certification assessment.

While the creation of concise yet impactful training programmes with the help of organizations having a niche expertise was the first step towards iGOT implementation, a greater need was felt to ensure that these courses have assessments that ensure course validity and certification. This was made possible through a course on assessment creation itself which is a mandatory pre-requisite for the course creators for the iGOT platform. To impart a basic to advanced understanding of assessments, types of assessments and how to design effective assessments, iGOT and JPAL (Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab) partnered with Educational Initiatives to create this MOOC on Assessment for the iGOT Course content curators. Ei’s experience of designing various types of assessments with a deeper understanding of students’ pedagogy/andragogy needs deployed as part of other MOOCs created. Ei stood out as a preferred choice of organization for this course.

Creating an effective E-learning course:

In their paper, Sun et al. (2008) provide a structured understanding of the dimensions that impact e-learning. Along with the engagement factor, the courses ability to ensure is some of the key features of a good course instructor in the classroom setting. In the e-learning environment, while the course creators are perceived as instructors, they impact multiple dimensions of learning. Along with deeper subject expertise, what makes the course a success is the ability of the course to teach a complex concept asynchronously, with consistency and knowledge retention. Also, ensuring the active thinking and participation of the learner in the process becomes an important step towards making the course engaging.

Since the course was being designed for the course creators of the platform, this challenge only seemed to get amplified as the topic of assessment is a technical concept. Also, since the platform was designed to cater to various courses, the challenge was to create the course with relevant examples so that each course creator can relate to the learning content.


Microlearning environment supplemented with advanced optional exploratory material:

The course was created keeping the effective microlearning principles in the centre. The concept of microlearning focuses on asynchronous, short bursts of learning opportunities that the learner can access at his comfort/ preference. Hence, the course had a blend of learning videos, reading materials, additional resources and intra-modular and inter-modular assessments to track progress. These modules were designed to allow the participants to learn at their own pace and in an interactive way. Through this, we could take care of the course dimension and instructor dimension.

An 8-module course with a duration of 6-8 hours of video-based learning was designed to build the capacities of course content creators, DoPT and Civil Service officers involved in the process of MOOC creation. The course broadly focuses on the following aspects of assessments:


Staying Learner focused:

Going back to the work by Sun et al (2008), from our experience of MOOC creation, we are aware of the learners’ perceived sense of comfort and the environmental dimensions that ensure learning. It was important to create an interactive course (even when the platform could only offer static videos). To overcome this, considerable time was spent lucidly storyboarding these technical concepts. The scripts were written in a way that they were more learner-friendly. The presenter approached the topic through discourse where the questions from the learners were anticipated and woven into the script.

The videos were scripted in a way that they first push the learner to undergo reflective thinking and then explain the concept in detail along with diverse examples from various courses. The course question examples vary from a simple Mathematic question to a GST related question to something as distant yet important as sanitation. These examples help us achieve learner’s engagement along with the discourse style of the video.

Learning evaluation:

The course has a course-end certification assessment that confers the completion of the course and ensures a certain level of assessment creation abilities. However, to ensure continued learning, the course also has inter-modular and intra-modular assessments. Through these assessments, the learner can self-evaluate themselves on the progress. These assessments are also designed with different objectives in mind. The intra-modular assessments focus on questions with a viewpoint of revision and reinforcement and are hence a mix of straightforward questions and some application questions. On the other hand, the inter-modular assessments are more evaluative for the learner to understand his/her learning level and revise concepts that have not been fully internalized.

For the explorers and learners who are willing to walk an extra mile:

One of the advantages of classroom teaching-learning is the guided digression the discourse takes. As a result of such digressions, the instructor can share additional information or include topics that the students specifically inquire about. This becomes a limitation in a MOOC, especially where the concept of the discussion board is either absent or not well-utilised. For such candidates, who always like to learn deeply and read up additional resources, for each module, additional reading materials/ videos/ recommendations were provided as part of the course. To share an example, along with the unit that discussed the importance of question making and the power of good questions, research papers highlighting the role of questions in ensuring learning were shared.

Addressing the professional course universe offered by DoPT:

One of the biggest challenges in designing this course was to ensure its relevance for different course curators. Since iGOT has been designed to cater to myriad training needs, it will have technical courses, soft skill-based courses and courses focusing on administerial processes and team & community behaviours. Designing a course to create assessments for such a wide range was in itself a challenge! To overcome the challenge, we worked closely with a core resource group of senior DoPT officers. This helped in ensuring the relevance of the course across domains.

This course will impart basic level mastery to the course creators on assessment principles, and with greater practice and continued reviews, the course curators can assemble an assessment tool with high rigour, ultimately contributing to good governance. As more and more courses are offered through the iGOT platform, Ei will be able to review the course for its ability to impart e-learning on various dimensions.