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GO Kit Series: Assess Student Learning for Course Continuity

Minimize impact of campus closures with a Go Online Kit

March 9, 2020 8:58 AM

This article is a part of Instructional Technology's Planning Your Go Online (GO) Kit series. Explore communication, active learning, and assessment strategies in an online environment to keep your course on track in the event of campus closure. View our in-depth webinar recording from March 11.  

Maintaining student learning during an academic disruption requires preparation to ensure communication is clear and active engagement opportunities are provided. Assessment of student learning is an important part of maintaining academic continuity. When classes must be canceled, faculty can leverage different instructional technologies to translate the assessment process into a virtual environment. 

What assessment tools and tips help faculty plan and stock their own Go Online Kit?

  • Blackboard is the cornerstone of this process, allowing faculty to deliver tests, collect student submissions for assignments, and facilitate graded discussions. Any graded activity in Blackboard automatically receives a gradebook column for easy tracking. Rubrics and virtual feedback tools help streamline the grading process. 

  • If you use paper exams or collect papers from students, consider posting a practice quiz or low-stakes assignment in Blackboard to get used to the tools. Many UMBC students are already familiar with using Blackboard, which reduces their immediate adjustment to a new delivery format. 

  • Panopto, Collaborate, and VoiceThread are great alternatives to class presentations and group work, allowing students to narrate their slide decks and demonstrations. Post links to discussion forums where peers can provide feedback and ask questions.

  • Reduce cheating by checking for originality with SafeAssign on written assignments or creating unique tests for each student with questions pools (Ultra) and random blocks (Original) in Blackboard.

  • Faculty can also use Respondus LockDown Browser with Monitor enabled to secure the high-stakes assessment environment. This custom browser locks down the testing environment within Blackboard, preventing students from using other applications or system tools, and recording students via webcam. A proctoring AI flags potential exam violations for faculty to review.

  • Third party tools* offer additional assessment opportunities via Blackboard. Publisher tools provide interactive exercises, self-check activities, and quizzes built on textbook curriculum. Most third-party tools send grades back to Blackboard. 

  • Google Assignments allow faculty to distribute assignment templates for graded activities and provide feedback during creation or after submission with reusable comment banks. 

Flexibility is important, not just in the selections of tools. Review your syllabus and identify areas where you can adjust expectations for assessment collection. It’s also important to remember students may have time management or emotional needs to navigate during an emergency (Gravenberg, Carey-Butler, & Horowitz, 2008) so faculty should be prepared to adjust due dates for one, some, many, or all students in a course. Also, ensure students who require accommodations can receive needed support.

Whether classes are postponed due to weather, illness, utility and infrastructure, or other emergencies, DoIT offers many resources beyond Blackboard to support academic continuity. Know which instructional technologies you can use in your Go Online (GO) Kit to maintain academic continuity when your class cannot meet in person. Join instructional technology for this interactive webinar. Click this link to register for the session. 


Gravenberg, E. V., Carey-Butler, S. R., & Horowitz, R. (2008). Learning from disaster: The lessons of Hurricane Katrina. Fairfax, VA: United Negro College Fund Institute for Capacity Building. Retrieved from

*With the exception of publisher integrations and licensed tools that have their own support staff, you should avoid requiring software or services that are unsupported by UMBC. If students encounter any technical issues, they will not be able get help from the Technology Support Center or Instructional Technology staff.

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