Learning management system as an authentic assessment tool : the case of Makerere University
Namutebi, Hellen Sylvia
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The latest advances in technology have transformed teaching, learning and assessment in the higher education landscape. The transformations have enabled several universities to utilize the Learning Management System (LMS) to reach out to distance learners. Whereas distance learning requires that students collaborate on their learning tasks and obtain timely feedback, it is not the practice with lecturers at universities. Their practice of using LMS does not meet students’ requirements in distance learning since it is not adequately authentic. This research seeks to answer the following questions: How is content designed on the MUELE platform? What skills do learning activities promote among students on MUELE? Which learning supports are utilized in the assessment of students on MUELE? An action research case study was adopted where 6 course units were observed and 8 participants interviewed, guided by Herrington’s nine elements for authentic learning. Data was analyzed and the results revealed that some content was not designed in line with authentic principles especially in theoretical courses which contradicts Herrington’s elements for authentic learning. Concerning learning activities, students are given more of individual tasks rather than collaborative tasks, which limits their opportunity to reflect, collaborate and articulate their responses on the system. More to that, concerning learning support, there is limited support and untimely feedback on students’ activities. In conclusion, authentic learning principles provide effective guidelines for implementing authentic assessments in an online environment. Therefore, the study generates principles to guide lecturers to utilize MUELE as an authentic assessment tool and recommends instructors to adopt all the affordances of MUELE when designing content, learning activities and supporting learners. Lastly, teacher motivation and training on how to assess students in an online environment needs to be encouraged.