There are very close ties, or at least there can be, between e-learning, e-assessment and work-based learning. The compatibility of e- methods and work-based, work-located studies is in many instances because of:
· Pragmatic considerations
o Access anytime, anywhere using asynchronous technologies.
· Quality concerns
o E-learning allows the HEI to contain a direct link in to provision that may otherwise be entirely delivered by a partner organisation.
Where e-assessment is used for these reasons only (without consideration of the wider learning design) there may be limited benefits, a reductionist approach results. What is lost when only a narrow rationale is used for choosing e-assessment for work-based learning?
· Association with authenticity – If assessment is a bolt-on, a means to an end, then the opportunity to enable work-based learners to use and build upon their day-to-day practices may be lost in the rush to simply weigh knowledge.
· Association with social justice – E-assessment offers a chance to level the playing field a little more. In getting away from essay writing and enabling the creation of multi-media artefacts for assessment, learners can play to their strengths and enhance authenticity. However, to enhance the chance of such an approach succeeding the use of media playfulness needs to be engrained into delivery/the learning journey, the e-infrastructure, the human support and the assessment success criteria. This is not a concept easily bolted on!
· Disjunction – Constructive alignment remains widely accepted good practice for all learning and teaching, based on this accepted wisdom alignment between assessment tasks and learning should remain clear. Whilst the content of learning can form an alignment, even when using assessment as a bolt-on, there may be disjunction when the means of assessment is remote from the learning experience. It could be argued that the assessment instrument should be synergistic with the journey. For example a student sitting down to take a computer aided test with scenario based question and answers when none of the delivery has been in this way may result in feelings of separateness between learning and assessment; likewise for a summative portfolio to be online after a face to face delivery which did not in any way utilise technology erodes the possibility of full and deep engagement and potentially acts to make the technology alien and intimidating under pressure.
As we design work-based learning initiatives with an e- element in either delivery or assessment or both care must be taken to be holistic in looking at how to support, how to maximise the benefit and how to ensure that for the learners a sense of journey is maintained. There are potentially lost opportunities and also dangers of disjuncture in being overly focussed on finding a means assessment that ‘will do the job’ of providing some measure of learning without considering such designs more holistically with reference to integration with delivery, support (tutor or peer) and [work-based, local] context. This tension then in the relationship between e-learning and work-based learning equates to function v. ideal design.