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  • Writer's pictureJames Kieft

Alternative suggestions for summative assessment that don't require a written essay

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

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In this blog post, I’m going to look at summative assessment. I’m not going to touch on assessment feedback as I have already written a blog on that in which I explore how technology can assist with its generation. You can read it here.

With the introduction of AI-powered tools like chat GPT, which can generate text responses in a matter of seconds to a whole range of questions and prompts. I thought it was worth exploring how else we could assess our students if we’re not just relying on the written word form of an essay or a report.

So my first alternative to a written report is asking students to create an infographic, now regular readers of my blog will know I am a lover of an infographic. I like the fact that the creator has to compress key facts into short statements, and then choose the sequence, and the most appropriate images or icons to illustrate the information.

Just like the old days of Twitter, where you are limited to a number of characters, the same thing is true with an infographic, if you’ve got to really distil information into key elements and break it down into the shortest number of words possible. I think that’s a really useful skill for the students to develop.

Now there are a number of tools, you can use to create an infographic here are a couple of my favourites. The first of those tools is Piktochart, It is a web-based graphic design tool, that provides a range of different templates that you can pick and use as a starting point or you can start with a blank screen and then use to drop and drag edit feature to add shapes. text, colour images and icons.

As with a lot of these tools, Piktochart uses a freemium model which means you can access it for free with a limited number of templates and download options available or they can pay a small subscription and have all of the wider features.

Here is my video guide on using Piktochart

My other suggestion for creating infographics may surprise some of you. It’s PowerPoint. Now I know when people think PowerPoint they generally think presentation, however, it has a much broader range of creative possibilities. It has come a long way from its initial days when it had rather rudimentary features. It also has one benefit that being most are familiar with it. If your school or college uses Office 365 then students will have access to already. They simply have to set the canvas size appropriately to get that long tall infographic format and then with the icon feature within Office 365, they can add icons, shapes and text and arrange them front to back to get the look they are after.

It was my video guide to creating infographics using PowerPoint.

If you’re after an alternative to Piktochart then Canva does a very similar Job.

Moving onto my next alternative to a written assignment, which is a video. As I have mentioned in a previous post videos offer a lot of opportunities for creativity and with smartphones, it is much easy to capture than it used to be. You can read one of those posts here.

My first suggestion is Canva they have recently introduced a video feature that allows students to create videos by adding individual frames, shapes, text and images. Just like an essay creating a video requires students to sequence the information in the appropriate manner and come up with a script or a narrative, that reads well, and helps to convey the information that’s needed. They also need to choose the appropriate images and icons to help with conveying the message.

When it comes to video. I can not miss out Flip (formally known as Flipgrid). Flip has to be one of my favourite video tools as it allows the student to either video themselves or video something or just put up a whiteboard and add text and images they can very quickly create a video. Having created the video it can be easily shared with their peers or their tutor.

Here is my video guide to using Flip

Perfect if you want peer feedback to feature as part of the assessment or can just be viewed by you but it’s a great way for the students to create videos by either accessing the tool via the browser or via the app on a mobile device.

Now I appreciate the challenge AI presents to educators is significant and that these suggestions are not a foolproof way of ensuring your students are not using AI to create their assessment work. They could still make use of AI to create text for the infographic or for the script for the video however despite it not being a foolproof way of getting around the challenges of AI I think making use of alternative forms of assessment is a useful thing to do.

It enables students to develop their Digital creativity skills and for the teacher, it potentially provides a medium that is quicker to assess, which when dealing with a cohort of 30 students is very useful.

Going back to the challenges of AI I hope it does not result in an increased use of controlled assessments where students complete the work in the lesson under exam conditions.

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