There is a good chance that most of you reading this have used a rubric in your life. Whether you have used one as a faculty member or as a student, a rubric typically has the same universal structure. The rubric you have used probably looks something like this:

A traditional Rubric.

A traditional Rubric.

Why use a rubric though? What purpose does it serve? You may have asked yourself that same question.

Ultimately, a rubric is a powerful tool for assessment. They help students become more thoughtful judges of the quality of their own work and others work as well. Rubrics also dramatically reduce the amount of time teachers spend on evaluating student work. Finally, they are easy to use and explain.

Typically, there are four parts to a rubric. Those four parts include the following:

  1. Task Description – Involves a “performance” of some sort by the student. The task can take the form of either a specific assignment or overall behavior.
  2. Scale – Describes how well or poorly any given task has been performed.
  3. Dimensions – This is where you lay out the parts of the task simply and completely. They should actually represent the type of component skills students must combine in a successful scholarly work.
  4. Description of the Dimensions – A rubric should contain at the very least a description or the highest level of performance in that dimension. However, you should strive to also create descriptions for all levels of performance.

You should also consider these steps when creating your own rubric:

  • Identify the characteristics of what you are assessing.
  • Describe the best and worst work you could expect using these characteristics (this describes the top category).
  • Describe an unacceptable product.
  • Develop descriptions of intermediate-level products and assign them to those categories.
  • Ask for colleague feedback!

Finally, after everything has been said and done, your rubric might look something like this:

This is an example of a complete rubric

This is an example of a complete rubric. Take note of the different criteria.

Your rubric could easily look different. It could have more dimensions, it might have a different scale, or you might now allow for comments at all. Your rubric should be tailored towards the information you are grading. Whatever your rubric looks like though, make sure it is well structured and easy to follow. Remember, chances are students will study these rubrics closely, so make sure you have a well-crafted one!

Some information and pictures based off the following:

Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback, and Promote Student Learning by Stevens and Levi 2005; Assessing Academic Programs in Higher Education by Allen 2004; and Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses: shifting the focus from teaching to learning by Huba and Freed 2000

Important Statistics about the eLearning Market for 2013 – Infographic announced important eLearning Statistics for 2013.

The Top 10 statistics about the eLearning Market 2013 that should be highlighted are:

  1. eLearning is a $56.2 Billion business and is likely to double in size before 2015.
  2. The U.S. and Europe utilize 70% of the world’s eLearning, but Asia Pacific is gaining ground.
  3. The fastest growing eLearning markets are Vietnam and Malaysia.
  4. 77% of American Corporations use online learning.
  5. 72% of companies surveyed report that eLearning keeps them on top of their industry changes.
  6. In 2011, 51% of companies did at least one training session with eLearning to more than 50% of their employees.
  7. Corporations save 50-70% when they replace instructor-based training with eLearning.
  8. eLearning classes are generally 25-60% shorter in duration than traditional classes.
  9. 23% of employees leave their jobs because the position lacks opportunity for development and training.
  10. Online education is proven to increase knowledge retention by 25-60%.Image

Find the 20%

Two weeks ago I attended Learning Solutions 2013 in Orlando, FL. Learning Solutions is a place where the eLearning community comes together to learn, share, and connect around the same goal: to create more engaging and effective learning experiences. While I was there I learned some fantastic ideas from some fantastic people. One topic I would like to highlight today is called “Find the 20%.”

The back story of the idea came from a workshop called ‘Designing for Learner Success,’ hosted by Jane Bozarth. She talked about her experiences in the field working with employers to build learning materials. One problem she constantly ran into was the amount of information placed on one slide in a presentation. For example, see the slide below:

This slide describes features of a Great White shark

This slide describes features of a Great White shark, but it has a lot of information.

There is some great information here, but right away it feels like too much. Usually slides don’t have more than a couple of points on them. However, this slide has ten.

The idea behind finding the 20% is to review a slide and pick out the information that is the most important/necessary. It isn’t designed to eliminate essential information, but sift through all of it to make sure if you really need the information in that place at that time. Look again at that slide. Is there anything you could take out of it but still get the important information across?

How about this?

This sldie describes the features of a Great White shark

While less information, it’s much clearer.

As you can see the slide layout is still the same, but the information is clear and concise. Nothing in this slide seems extraneous.

By using this idea I was able to sift through the material and come up with something else. Try using this idea when creating your presentation materials! You may find it make the process of creating learning materials quicker and easier.

Recent Canvas Updates

Last weekend Canvas rolled out some updates to their system. Many cosmetic and functional changes were made, but there were two in particular that I wanted to detail. First, the Quizzes, Discussions, and Assignment interfaces have changed slightly. Students and instructors will see newly designed interface updates for Assignments and Quizzes.

For example, below is a comparison of a Quiz in a Module, the first is from the Teacher view, and the second is from the Student view.

Important Teacher information such as test options are listed.

This is the view of a quiz in a Module as a Teacher

Basic test information is listed.

This is the view of a quiz in a Module as a Student.

At first, I was a little worried that students would be able to see all the options that you set for this quiz. However, after going through it myself, the students will only see the necessary information. Students are unable to see important quiz/test information. Similar changes have been made to Discussions and Assignments.

Second, adding items to Modules has changed slightly. If you were to enter the Modules section of your course this is what you see:

This is a basic Module in Canvas

This is a basic Module in Canvas

You’ll notice that the “Add item to Module” button has disappeared from the bottom. To add a new item to the Module you have to click on the small gear in the corner. The picture below illustrates what you have to click:

The black arrow shows you where to click to add an item.

The black arrow shows you where to click to add an item.

Once you click on “Add Content” the same window as before will pop up. No changes have been made to adding the files themselves to the Module.

These two are only part of the list of updates in this past cycle. For a full list of changes and updates, please visit the Canvas Release Notes page. Remember, Canvas is on a three week cycle. Their next set of updates/changes/fixes will happen on 3/30/13.

British Library joins UK’s MOOC platform FutureLearn Ltd

In a recent press announcement, the “British Library  has announced its intention to join the UK’s MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform FutureLearn Ltd, offering participants of its online courses access to the Library’s unique digitised resources. The Library will be the first non-university research institution to join the initiative, and is among five university partners…”

The press release goes on to note that FutureLearn Ltd was the first MOOC in the UK and it “was launched by the Open University last December and includes partnerships with eighteen UK universities. Existing Library digital resources will be made available on FutureLearn, complementing plans for large-scale participation in online lectures and courses which are due to start later this year. The Library’s freely available digital collections include over 800 medieval manuscripts, 40,000 nineteenth-century books and 50,000 sound recordings, and continue to grow each year.”

The UK has a tradition of providing government support to higher education and digital initiatives. In 1966, the Labour Party’s general election manifesto contained a commitment to establish what they were calling the University of the Air. Prime Minister Harold Wilson won re-election with an increased majority and in September 1967 his Cabinet set up a Planning Committee ‘to work out a comprehensive plan for an open university’.

Founded in 1969, the Open University was the world’s first successful distance teaching university. Open University admitted its first students  – 25,000 – in January 1971. Its name Open University refers to the fact that it was wide open to anyone and did not require any prior educational qualifications. It did require students to take two foundation courses before moving on to higher level courses and eventually a Bachelor’s degree. Read more of the history of the Open University on its web site here:

Even today, under a Conservative Party government, support for the Open University, online education, and digital initiatives continues in Great Britain. Speaking in India, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Britain boasts some of the best universities in the world. This innovative new offer led by The Open University will mean that Indian students can access some of the best teaching and learning online from their home in Mumbai or Delhi. I’m delighted that Futurelearn is expanding to include more British universities and the British Library. I hope it will encourage many more Indian students to take the next step and study with a UK university.”

Through its example in joining FutureLearn, the British Library is solidifying the role of libraries in supporting the development and success of online education around the world – an example that the Poynter Library, in its own modest way, is following.

For more information, read the Library’s Press announcement:

Online Education May Make Top Colleges More Elite

An article in the March 4 Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that, contrary to the belief of many state legislatures and other politicians, online education is unlikely to reduce the cost of higher education. That was the conclusion reached by some attending a private summit in Cambridge, Massachusetts sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University held  March 4.  Attendees discussed the future of residential higher education in a digital age.and many attendees made it clear then that they intended to use their MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to improve, not supplant, traditional courses.

“Online tools that track how much students use certain course materials could give professors insight into how they should design their traditional courses, several panelists said.”

“Eric S. Rabkin, a professor of English at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, suggested that professors could direct students to learn the most basic material in a course at their own pace, via online modules. Professors could then use the time saved, he said, on the parts of the course that require more thoughtful, individual attention, such as giving feedback on long essays.”

Read the full article in the Chronicle at:


A Guide for Writing and Improving Achievement Tests

Looking for ways to develop or improve your assessments? This USF System document, prepared by Teresa Flateby, Ph.D., breaks down the fundamentals of achievement testing. In this document, she also provides strategies for creating different types of test items, evaluating existing test items, and creating aligned assessments that measure the student based on the cognitive domains set forth through your learning objectives.

A Guide for Writing and Improving Achievement Tests PDF