Designing a Cloud-Based Assessment Model: A New Zealand Polytechnic Case Study

Designing a Cloud-Based Assessment Model: A New Zealand Polytechnic Case Study

Tony Rickards (Curtin University, Australia) and Aaron Steele (Universal College of Learning, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9924-3.ch022
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Abstract

A cloud based assessment learning environment exists when the collaborative sharing features of cloud computing tools (e.g. Google Docs) are utilised for a continuous assessment of student learning activity over an extended period of time. This chapter describes a New Zealand Polytechnic based success story which utilised a multi-method approach to investigate student perceptions of a cloud assessment learning environment. The learning environment factors that are examined in this chapter include progress monitoring, cloud tools (i.e. Google Docs), feedback, cloud storage, technology preference, student achievement, and student engagement. This chapter not only describes this unique learning environment, it also provides a clear insight into student perceptions of the cloud assessment learning environment. In concluding, the chapter provides some outcomes that may be utilised to improve pedagogy and student outcomes in a STEM based multimedia learning environment.
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Background

Cloud assessment learning environments have not been the focus of extensive research at this time. This chapter provides new insights from the first study of its kind in New Zealand to engage in cloud based assessment technologies. This chapter also presents key findings from an investigation into student perceptions of the cloud assessment learning environment that emerged from the core of a much larger study that was conducted in 2013 by the authors (Steele, 2013). This study was different from many preceding learning environment studies in that the lecturer involved was a participant observer and researcher who immersed themselves in a detailed examination of this new way of engaging technology in teaching and learning. As a result, this study is an authentic examination from within an emergent cloud based assessment learning environment, and provides a multi method and multi perspective student and academic insight into this environment for the first time.

As was described in the introduction the cloud assessment learning environment is novel, unique and very new in educational learning environment research. Typically the literature has been devoid of cloud based computing research, as it is a new area. There is none that is focused on the cloud based assessment learning environment. Cloud computing on the other hand is an area that in business has rapidly expanded in its uptake and applications. This is evidenced by its increasing encroachment into everyday technologies such as the Apple iPhone that relies upon cloud-based technologies for the dissemination and storage of music and photographs, amongst other things.

Other examples of educational and business use of the cloud can be found at popular review websites such as the Cloudwards website (Cloudwards, 2015). Sites such as this have emerged as a direct result of cloud based computing. Reports are beginning to emerge regarding the degree to which the cloud is reaching ubiquity in business and as enterprise solutions education. For example, the 2014 State of the Cloud Report by Rightscale, a cloud portfolio management company (Rightscale, 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cloud Computing: Offsite web servers that provide a collaborative online learning environment.

Conceptual change: Change in student perceptions of their learning environment associated with experience and learning about the way the system operates.

Cloud Based Assessment Model: Allows a teacher to monitor and guide student progress over the entire duration of an assessment via Google Docs.

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