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Online Assessment and Final Reflexions

Chapelle-Douglas (2006) talks about the importance of technology in language assessment and its future. It is explained that developing assessment is important because this will help students develop strategies for self-assessment. However, teachers need to be aware on how to evaluate an assessment to ensure proper validity and reliability. Teachers can develop their own assessments to reflect the materials that were taught in class. In my opinion, schools need to invest not only in technology, but also in training so that teachers can receive proper training to take advantage of the available technology. There are many factors to consider not only about the development of assessments but of the use of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) in general. In this context, how do you think the cost of technology affects computer-assessment development? How do you think the cost of technology affects CALL in general? Do the school systems offer adequate training to teachers to fully take advantage of available technology for teaching and assessment? Finally, can you give your insight about CALL and its importance?

Lorenzo Manzano


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 14th, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC)
Final Reflections
Those are a lot of questions! I am not familiar with the costs involved for either the hardware or the software when schools purchase these for educational purposes, so I cannot comment on this aspect, although I'm sure cost is often a limiting factor. As an ESL teacher in training, I would like to see more emphasis in the assessment class taught here at UTSA on how to create effective assessments using technology. I felt the assessment class spent lots of time considering the social impact of high-stakes standardized tests and not enough on the nuts and bolts of creating good tests, and no time at all was spent on using technology to do this. With most of my classes (including and especially CALL) I have felt that we are scratching the surface of each area being considered. Of course no one wants our degree program to become even longer, so I do hope that ongoing educational opportunities after graduation will be readily available, rich in content, and not too expensive to obtain.
Apr. 16th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Final Reflections
Do you think the cost of technology and how it affects each school is irrelevant? Would it be helpful to find ways to make not only technology but training available to educators and find ways to finance it? What do you think? Technology is great and necessary. But what happens with schools that do not have access to all available technology?
Apr. 15th, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)
Final Reflexions
Computer has been considered as an important learning tool in the modern second language learning. Computer assisted language learning (CALL) has provided amazing opportunities for improving second language learning such as it can motivate students’ interesting or improve learners’ varied linguistic skills.
Integrating computer technology in English learning is especially important for ESL learners since it can help them overcome their problems in English learning. CALL is good at improving learners’ different linguistics including listening, reading, speaking and writing. Since many ESL learners consider listening and speaking as their most urgent skills they want to improve, they can use computer to facilitate their listening and speaking skills.

One problem with CALL is the limitations of the technology, both in its ability and availability. First of all, there is the problem with cost and the simple availability of technological resources such as the Internet (either non-existent as can be the case in many developing countries or lack of bandwidth, as can be the case just about anywhere). However, the limitations that current computer technology has can be problematic as well. While computer technology has improved greatly in the last three decades, demands placed on CALL have grown even more so. One major goal is to have computers with which students can have true, human-like interaction, esp. for speaking practice; however, the technology is far from that point. Not to mention that if the computer cannot evaluate a learner’s speech exactly, it is almost no use at all.

Also, teacher readiness has a great impact on the entire CALL experience. Teachers, who are unprepared, both technically and mentally, may leave students with an adverse impression of CALL. Successful integration of software programs hence requires that the language teachers have: 1) a certain level of competency in the use of computers; 2) an understanding of the dynamics of a CALL classroom; and 3) a commitment to the continuous use of CALL in the language classroom.
Competency in the use of computers refers to a basic knowledge of how to operate a computer and of what the computer can do, familiarity with some computer terminology, and some experience of dealing with commonly encountered problems. To have the confidence in taking a class into the multimedia language laboratory, one needs to feel in control of the tools one uses as well as the subject matter. Language teachers who plan to use CALL in the classroom should already be using the computer as a tool in their everyday working lives for word processing, e-mail, surfing the internet for information, etc.. If a language department decides to use software programs, teachers, who are not familiar and at ease with the use of computers, need to be trained before they step into the multimedia language laboratory with their students.
In many ESL contexts, the school requires teachers to be able to monitor students in the multimedia language laboratory. Thus, having sufficient knowledge and confidence in managing a CALL class is definitely an asset.

Apr. 16th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Final Reflexions
Hi. I agree that teacher readiness is an important aspect of CALL. For that reason I think frequent updates and training should be supplied to educators to bring them up to date in the use of technology. It would make no sense to make technology available if teachers can't or are not prepared to take full advantage of it. Right?
Apr. 15th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
Well in this economic environment, many people are afraid to spend money, or simply unable to, so any extra costs (including technology) is being looked at twice before signing the check. By no means do I know exact prices, but technology incurs a lot of "added" or overhead costs. Aside from the equipment, software and hardware, construction costs for proper outlets and wiring of rooms needs to be paid for, as well as the personnel to sit and monitor the rooms. Maintenance of the equipment and the rise in electricity use also incur costs. After all of these and any other costs are taken into account, this most likely negatively affects computer-assessment development.

Major universities do not let costs get in the way of providing adequate technology, there is always a way. Funding is out there, even if technology fees need to be raised, there is always a way, so for bigger universities, the costs I don't believe affect CALL very much.

I'm not sure what the school systems are offering and whether the teachers are signing up to learn about the available technology, but many of my past professors had no idea about the technology they sometimes attempted to use. Showing DVDs on a lab-top that was connected to a projector would give some of my professors difficulty. This was just a more recent example, but other times professors would simply state they were unfamiliar with Web CT and therefore they would have to hand all of the coursework out in hard copy. So I do not know if they were given the opportunity by the University or not to learn about the technology at their disposal, but many times they were not trained on the technology.

What I have learned about CALL has been very insightful. It's by all means a very important aspect of language learning and will continue to gain importance in the future. Technology is the way of the future and computers will continue to play a vital role in all aspects of education.
Apr. 16th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
Hi there. You make a very good point. Technology incurrs in cost not only in the software and hardware itfels, but also in construction, proper outlets, and wiring as well as electricity. I agree with you that for Universities, technology is not necessarily a factor. However, training it is. I have had the same or similar experiences as you where professors do NOT know how to use basic technology. Now, who's responsibility is to learn, the University's or the professor? Perhaps both. Also, although students in the University pay the same for technology, not all departments have the same technology available to them. For example, when i was in the Spanish department, we had the worse classrooms, with a manual projector and that's it. This while the education department had all kinds of new stuff that I was not even aware we had at the University.
Apr. 16th, 2009 10:35 am (UTC)
online assessment and final reflexions
Lorenzo I agree with you where you mention that "schools need to invest not only in technology, but also in training, so that teachers can receive....available technology. I know that some school districts have more money than others, but, what I would do if my school could not afford computers and teachers' training, I would try to help my school in organizing a group teachers and/or parents to donate items and organize a jamaica (fiesta). You would be surprised how many businesses are willing to donate at least 25 dollars. In reference to CALL, I believe that definitely the cost of technology affects CALL in general, but, I think that when you know you need something, you'll do whatever it takes in order to have it.
Apr. 16th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
Re: online assessment and final reflexions
This is a great idea. I never thought of that. This could actually work. Also, sharing each person's knowledge could help dramatically. We do this at work. We all setup trainings to share our knowledge in our own area of expertiese.
Apr. 16th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
Currently the ESL/IEP department is installing a computer lab for its new TA training program. I know the software alone will cost several tens of thousand dollars. In addition, there is the hardware, the installation, the wiring and all the other things that Sal mentioned as added costs. The department is very aware that they are fortunate to have such accommodation for it students. As far as the progress and development of CALL in general, I don’t think the cost of technology is an issue for its growth. There is plenty of academic access to CALL and there are major and minor findings for its use and application. However, there is the issue of digital divide where there are many without access to the technology because of economic reasons, even in our own country. Should those without be further penalize by lack of technology? Many politicians talk about giving every child, every home an access to a computer and the internet. Is this possible in the near future?
In language learning, I believe CALL will play an important role in enabling students to have access to resources that they would not have otherwise, especially in distance learning. It is important for teachers to have positive attitude toward technology and to be able apply its use in their classroom and beyond. According to Kessler (2006), most language teaching professionals are comfortable using technology but there are aspects that require further development that they should be aware of. In addition, he recommends that CALL components should be integrated into all language teaching masters program as well as have the universities offer CALL preparation to those teachers who did not have it in their program. I think CALL has become an important part in language teaching and in the future, it will become an integral part.
Apr. 16th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
online assessment and reflection
I think online assessments are very important to the future of education. As we grow more into digital and distance learning envirnments, we need to be well prepared for our future students. This makes reliability and validity of assessments very important for teachers who don't have the control of the physical classroom. I agree that proper training for instructors in the technological classroom is very important. With all the money that is spent on the equiptment, shouldn't it be used in the fullest ability. I think CALL is very important to the TESL degree plan. As we move futher into the digital world now and in the future, I think those who took this class will have an advantage in the digital world and in their teaching.
Apr. 17th, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
I believe that CALL is very helpful for high school and college students. All college students should be able to take advantage of the Computer Assisted Language Learning. Students at this level are expected to be proficient in computers. It is also necessary for instructors to include CALL in their teaching method.One should also consider the fact that not all students have the same proficiency level in computers specially when they are in middle school and elementary school. At the same time teachers have different proficiency level in the Internt technology based on their age. Younger instructors are more familiar with the Internet technology while other instructors may be more comfortable with traditional classes. One should also consider the fact that when we talk about CALL we are referring to International students who are trying to learn a foreign language. colleges and schools should introduce CALL to their students after evaluating their proficiency level in computers. However, I believe that all college and high school instructors should be familiar with CALL and incorporate it in their teaching techniques based on their students abilities and knowledge.
Apr. 18th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
I think that the financial burden that technology brings is one of the most important limiting factor that makes the powers-that-be very much apprehensive in knowing more about the effects of technology in education. I embrace technology and I have taken classes that incorporate technology in its curriculum as a major component. I do believe that it is the way to teach in the future and investing in our teachers to get appropriate training in the various technological tools that they can bring in the classroom is a smart thing to do. A lot of children are more computer savvy than your average teacher. Knowing what grabs them, as far as the latest software or latest computer craze and using it as a tool in the classroom is a sure way of getting the students interested in learning. As far assessment however, I think that technology could become an assessment tool, but definitely not the only tool to be used to assess how the students are learning. Even if you take into consideration the high-stakes exam that students may take in computer format, it should never be the only way to check the students' progress. CALL is a valuable tool in the classroom if the teachers are knowledgeable and are able to implement its use around their curriculum. As a future teacher, I can't wait to apply some of the technology that I have learned in this class, and I am also looking forward to knowing more about classroom technolgy in the future.
Apr. 18th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
My Final Repsonse YES!
To answer the first question cost affects computer assessment development because I think there are many steps and people needed to get to the final product, which is the assessment. There has to be the teacher, the computer programmer to name a few. Then it has to be tested for validity and realiability. I think of that example Dr. Sauro mentioned in class about the computer based TOEFL and all the malfunctions it had before it really got up and was running. Now to the second question, well cost of technology affects CALL because access and availability are not always there. And also it depends on what kind techonolgy you as thet teacher want to use in your class. This takes planning and consideration of your students technology abiiities. Now to the third question Yes school systems offer adequate training to teachers to fully take advantage of available technology for teaching and assessment, but they key is that as teacher we are not offered time to implement this new form of technology into our classrooms. The training is always offered in my school district but the dilemna I always have is that I don't have time to plan with or to use it. Finally, the last question my insight about CALL and it's importance. It is important to know about CALL and how to implement. But the key for me and what I got out of this class is that it all depends on who the audience is. If you know your student are technology savy and surf the web and have all those other skills then my by all means incorporate and plan to use. BUT if you are working with students that don't have any of those skills then I see no need for it and you as teacher will plan and develop lessons that meet the need of your students. As teacher it is good to know CALL practices and know how to implement them into classroom and that is another thing I got from this class. Thanks all you have been great classmates Abby,
Apr. 18th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
Well, let's be realistic. New technology tends to expensive and although I don't know what the exact cost is, I do know that many schools are simply not able to afford it, and even if the schools are able to come up with enough money to purchase some type of new technology, being able to keep up with it will be a whole different issue. Therefore, I believe that the cost of technology affects CALL, as well as computer-assessment development in a negative way.
Based on my experience as a student, I have noticed that many teachers do not take advantage of all the tools they have access to. I don't know if this is due to a lack of training or if it's a personal choice, but I think the main reason is because they think that students might find it easier to cheat on assignments or tests if everything is done online.
I personally believe that CALL is going to become much stronger in the future and I plan to use it when I teach.
Apr. 19th, 2009 12:50 am (UTC)
The future of CALL
CALL and technology for education are all superior ideas; immediate access to information, quality of presentation,quantification of information and everything readily accesible at a push of a button cannot get higher praise. This can only mean signaling to better things. Technology, since the dawn of man, always comes late...like progress. Everything that we have seen so far is leading us to a great deal of excitement in the years to come.
It is something very hard to escape from.
As of now, I can only attest to what I have experienced. I am pretty sure that people, society and the educational systems are more than happy to accept it. Of course, districts are not directly and immediately responsive to the latest technological crazes. It would take either a considerable amount of budget available (we hope so!) or drastic changes in our economy to
make the inaccesibly expensive available for a few cents. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, I can say these changes will not overnight. Like I said, progress can be slow. Everything is privy for changes: teachers and administrators will be demanded to become more computer-savvy, not to mention
our children. Who knows? Children are certainly more attuned and interested in showing-off their expertise. CALL can make education could become kid stuff (no pun intended). Great things will certainly be part our father; I can only hope it is in the best interest of education. CALL participants in the future may certainly benefit of it. For those who didn't grow up with CALL, we would be equally marveled and shocked of how things have changed. For better or worse? CALL is still in its earliest stages. Time and students will be the judges.
Apr. 19th, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
In order to be able to perceive the whole "picture" of computerized assessment, one needs to be able to understand and define the key concepts mentioned in the prompt. Thus: assessment has a broader meaning than testing. Assessment can be defined as the systematic, iterative process of planning, collecting, analyzing, reporting, and using student data from a variety of sources over time. Assessment offers a much more comprehensive picture of student growth and achievement over time than a test allows.
The concept of reliability recognizes that no test (or testing situation) is free from error, and that these errors result in misrepresenting students’ knowledge and ability. Reliability refers to the consistency with which a test measures whatever it’s measuring, or the extent to which students’ scores on tests are free from errors of measurement.
Validity refers to the accuracy of a test or assessment in measuring what it purports to measure.
As we can see, the concept of "assessment" has a broad meaning and it is developed in a longer period of time, not just a mere test. It is the knowledge a teacher obtains throughout the time about his students' learning abilities, their potential and motivation that lead them to their academic progress. So, we can definitely say that a teacher has a great role and impact on a learner's assessment process and indeed an effective evaluation and a long-term assessment can lead to an effective self-assessment. If the feedback is informative and instructive, with lots of explanations which point down the errors that a learner produces, that particular learner will develop in time his own system of assessment, an informed self-assessment.
To what extent can technology "perceive" those aspects that might be less obvious in determining how effective their learning ability is ( such as motivation, dedication, ability to analyze and synthesize information, perform transfers from one field of study to another), the factors that increase learning abilities in students in contrast with those which prevent them from learning (such as a high affective filter, lack of interest, difficulty in getting focused on a particular task etc.)? These are the fine lines that a teacher is able to track but I am not quite sure to what extent a computer can. Indeed, technology is a wonderful means of evaluation and testing, thus facilitating the teachers' work on the field. Computerized assessment offers many opportunities for innovations in measurement. Computerized assessment can capitalize on the dynamic capabilities of the computer. For example, the difficulty of administered items can be adapted to the ability of the examinee, thus eliminating items that are too hard or too easy. Multimedia computers provide the opportunity to revolutionize testing. Stereo sound, animation, and full-motion video can be incorporated into assessment tools and aid in the measurement of individual differences ranging from musical skills to interpersonal abilities. The use of computer technology and the growing access to educational resources through the Internet are requiring educators to rethink how they teach and to help students to prepare for life and to work in the coming decades. Teachers' technological proficiency is definitely a must nowadays; the advent of the computing age has brought with it a radical disruption of the pedagogical foundations of teachers' work. The need to rethink education in the wake of the technological changes of the last two decades has appeared to be a journey. An innovative new model of professional development has to be created for teachers that acknowledge their need to be continual learners. The more bridges that can be created among teacher training programs, local schools, professional educational research teams, and technology experts, the more steps educators will take on this journey to tomorrow.
Thank you for considering my prompt.
Kind regards,
Apr. 19th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
I am not late with my prompt
I have just posted my reply to the final prompt on Saturday, April 18th, at 8:18 pm.
But in the CALL SPOT list, it shows as if it was posted on Sunday, April 19. I just want to bring to your attention the fact that I did not send it overdue, I am not late with my prompt.
Thank you for considering my prompt.
Apr. 20th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
I agree with your comment that the teacher should be properly trained and that they should take advantage of the techonology available. The cost of technology, I have to say, it is probably expensive. Now, the cost of technology may affect computer-assessment development, but I think it is important to research and develop new ideas and new ways to improve the learning process.

I'm not sure if all the schools offer the proper training to teachers in technology, but I think it is important to consider that the use of technology should be part of the teaching curriculum. I know in our department may get better in the near future, but at the present time you are on your own if you want to use technology. I know the cost of technology can be expensive, but I believe it is important for the CALL researchers to continue and develope tools that may revolutionize the language learning process. I believe there is always something to discover in every field.

and saves money
Apr. 22nd, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
Maria's Response
There have been many advances in computer assessment development such as TOFL IBT. So I don't think that cost is a factor in it's development. However, I do feel that cost does affect CALL in general. Many schools do not have the access to computers because schools do not have enough funds. So even if teachers are trained in CALL they will not be able to apply those practices if the school does not have the money for computers. For your next question I feel that school systems do need improvement in providing adequate training for teacheres in CALL. I remember observin a third grade class during thier computer lab time and the teacher just left the students to work on their own. THey were restricted to the sites they could go to but most students just played games on cartoon net work. Now that I think about everything I have learned there is so much the teacher could have done like a webquest or a internet research project in groups. If the teacher had training in CALL she would have been able to make more productive use of her time and help students learn with computers and not just use it as a game. CALL is very important because it is the future. Everyday students are faced with technology and in higher education they are expected to use it in their learning. Thus, teachers should be trained in CALL so they can give students the opportunity to learn with computers since they will need it as they continue thier education.
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