At CAA 2012 there were several very welcome papers that addressed ways in which technology (e.g. forums, wikis, blogs) can be used to make assessment more authentic. At first sight (to me, an oldy who has never really ‘understood’ computer games) the final symposium ‘Games and simulations in e-assessment’ seemed to be encouraging a step in the opposite direction. Games don’t seem very authentic! However after listening to the presentations and discussion (and a very interesting presentation from Jean Phua : What do secondary school students think about multimedia science computer assisted assessment?) I think I may have been wrong.
I think the point here is that if students can ‘have a go’ at a simulation of an experiment or whatever at the same time as doing an assignment (and then recheck when they receive feedback), learning will be enhanced. So this is a bit like us at the OU requiring students to use a computer-based activity as part of the assessment of a module (incidentally, I have long been arguing that we should have direct links – in both directions – between our assignments and our activities). And if we can make the activities as authentic as possible (e.g. by using ‘interactive screen experiments’ , based on photographs of a real experiment in progress, rather than simulations) so much the better.