Will online learning eliminate the need for examination papers?

Boettcher, J. (2011) Evidence of Learning Online: Assessment Beyond The Paper, Campus Technology, February 23

Online learning offers the opportunity for innovative, more authentic forms of student assessment than the traditional written, paper examination. Judith Boettcher is a very experienced learning designer, and in this excellent article she provides numerous examples of how the online environment and web 2.0 tools can be used to provide engaging, authentic assignments that assess students writing and communications skills. The article includes an interesting application of the concept of ‘cognitive surplus’.


The more teaching moves to the development of skills and competencies, the more online learning provides possibilities for innovative and effective assessment strategies. This has major implications for course design. It suggests that online technologies allow for different learning outcomes and objectives, rather than merely mirroring the learning objectives set for classroom teaching. Indeed, thinking of how best to assess ’21st century skills’ should be an integral part of decision-making around course content, forms of delivery, and choice of technology.

Making thinking visible: analysis, synthesis, application


  1. A timely posting Tony !!

    This Monday Sauder LTS is hosting a workshop targeted specifically on how we can be better leveraging our online assessment tools for some tremendous innovations. It’s amazing how many faculty still have the mindset that maps online assessment = multiple choice = lowest rung of Bloom. We will be demonstrating the power of integrating CSS in question design, creating 3-D questions, along with the power of randomization for ensuring reliability and validity within both the formal and informal assessment arenas. To close off, we’ll be showcasing our COMM 293 course which for the past two semesters has successfully run fully online invigilated midterm and final exams for over 500 students in one sitting. We even have students completing the exams using iPads!!

    You are more than welcome if you are available.


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