Audio and video are powerful tools in E-Learning and can enhance engagement, retention, and assessment. However, as mentioned by Palloff and Pratt it is important to keep your course design simple to reach the greatest number of participants.  This is a key element in Universal Design for Learning as well.  Utilizing audio and video sparingly in brief segments that supplement the text based content can provide variety and engage learners who benefit from receiving information from multiple modalities.  Below you will find an example podcast and video that could be utilized to introduce a topic or provide a potential assessment method.

In conquering the content, Smith describes authentic assessments as those that fit real world circumstances. An example is given, would you rather have someone cut your hair who has made 100% on a 50 question multiple choice test about cutting hair but no experience, or someone who has actually cut the hair of multiple individuals but has taken no written test? As you can see, authentic assessments might replicate something that occurs on the job or in real life. In my course, which is a Biology course, I believe an authentic assessment would be to generate a hypothesis, design an experiment to test that hypothesis, collect data, and evaluate that data. A core concept of my course is scientific literacy, and what better way to demonstrate an understanding of scientific literacy than to be a scientist, to do science, to follow the scientific method. Each subsequent module in my course would address a part of the process, so that students would be receiving feedback continuously as they go throughout the course, culminating in a final project. I believe this feedback as Wiggins describes in “Assessment as Feedback” is central to learning, and will allow students to self adjust and to retain more information as they go on past this course into additional courses and into life. I want to thank you for listening to my thoughts on authentic assessment and my Biology course and I look forward to hearing your feedback. Thank you.

The following video was made as an introduction to my students during my cooperative teaching internship in Instructional Strategies and Assessment Methods with Dr. Susan Manning.



  • Palloff, Rena M. and Pratt, Keith. (2013). Lessons from the Virtual Classroom: The Realities of Online Teaching (2nd ed). Jossey-Bass ISBN: 978-111812373
  • Smith, Robin M. Conquering the content: A step-by-step guide to online course design, First Edition (2008). Jossey Bass. ISBN-13: 978-0787994426
  • National Center on Universal Design for Learning. http://www.udlcenter.org/
  • Wiggins, “Assessment as Feedback”(2004) http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/Assessment%20Alternatives/wiggins.htm

Maria Guillily, PhD