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General Frequently Asked Questions about Big Open Online Courses
Q: Are BOOCs free?

A: Yes, they currently are free, $0, zero, nothing, FREE! Thanks to a grant from Google. They are likely to remain free in the future, though it is possible that a small fee may be charged in the future for “officially verified” badges.

Q: What is a BOOC?

A: BOOC stands for Big Open Online Course. A ‘BOOC’ is ‘big’ but not ‘massive’ as in ‘MOOC’. BOOCs are designed for learning things that are too complex and contextualized to be learned in individualized self-paced modules. While the size will vary from one BOOC to the next, registration will normally be capped at 200 to 500 participants.

Q: Do BOOCs involve a lot of reading?

A: While all IU BOOCs assignments will be organized around a textbook chapter and/or an article, participants are not expected to read it straight through. Rather the assignments build on each participants’ own interest and experience to make sense of the reading.

Q: Do BOOCs feature videos?

A: In the past, BOOCs only featured streaming videos from other experts on the topics. New in the 2015 Educational Assessment BOOC, we have an introductory video for the course, a hands-on video showing you how to complete the assignment; for each assignment, we will have a video of Dr. Hickey providing an overview of the topic and adding his insights and opinions.

Q: Do BOOCs involve a lot of writing?

A: Each assignment is organized around writing and discussing a “wikifolio” that can be seen by every other participant and the instructor. Wikifolios are quite informal and the contents are not directly graded. They are not like formal papers that are graded using a rubric. Participants are also required to discuss each other’s wikifolios via threaded comments directly on the wikifolios.

Q: Do BOOCs provide certificates of completion?

A: Yes, BOOCs have tiered levels of participation, which provide distinct levels of proof of completion. Please review the “Levels of Participation in BOOC” table at the bottom of this webpage.

Q: How do I display and share the digital badges that I earn?

A: The badges conform with Mozilla’s Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI). This means that the badges can be stored in your badges “backpack.” Once they are in your backpack you can share them out via email and via social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Q: How do I know that my badges will be valued and trusted?

A: The links in the badges will allow someone else to easily see what you have accomplished and learned. Whether or not that matters to someone else depends on what they care about. While this will vary from BOOC to BOOC, every effort will be made to include a detailed, accessible, and accurate picture of your learning.

Educational Assessment BOOC FAQs
Q: What is the topic of the Educational Assessment BOOC?

A: This course is designed to help educators, administrators, and researchers understand and improve assessment of student learning.

Q: How is the Educational Assessment BOOC organized?

A: It is organized around assessment practices, principles, and policies. Practices concerns the common classroom assessment formats (e.g., multiple-choice, essay, etc.). Principles concern concepts like validity, and reliability. Policies concern things like accountability and testing, with a particular focus on what happens with evidence of learning from assessments.

Q: Does the Educational Assessment BOOC only concern K-12 assessment?

A: No. This knowledge and these skills are useful for any educational setting. This includes other formal contexts like workplaces, professions, universities, and informal contexts like videogames and after-school settings.

Q: I notice that most of your lessons are built around classroom curricular aims. I am an administrator, so I don’t really have lessons to work with. Will it still work for me?

A: The curricular aim is simply a context to make sense of the big ideas of the chapters. You are not creating assessments for use in class. Rather you are using the same curricular aim across assignments to give you a context. This is particularly relevant for the assessment practices units. For the assessment principles and policies, you will specifically learn how the ideas each week are differently relevant for teachers, administrators, and researchers, as well as for K-12 versus college instructors.

Typically, one third of the students in this course are current or future administrators. A central goal of this course is helping administrators, educators, and researchers learn to talk to each other about assessment and accountability.

Q: What digital badges are available in the Educational Assessment BOOC?

A: You can earn three Assessment Knowledge badges for completing the required sections of the three parts of the course (Assessment Practices, Principles, and Policies). If you earn all three badges, you will earn the Educational Assessment badge.

If you complete the optional Expertise section of all the assignments in one part of the course, and score at least 80% on the exam, you will earn the Assessment Expertise badge for that part. If you earn all three Expertise badges and score at least 80% on the final exam, you will earn the Assessment Expert badge.

Finally, if you use the contents of your wikifolios to create a paper that meets Dr. Hickey’s criteria (and is appropriate for you to share with your professional peers), you can earn a customizable Assessment Expert badge that includes the state, country, or context in which you have developed your expertise, and can include a link to the paper and any comments from Dr. Hickey and your peers.

Q: What does it mean to “complete” an assignment in this BOOC?

A: You are required to post a wikifolio each week in which you write a response to several prompts. In particular you are asked to identify which aspects of the reading are most relevant to you and why and to summarize the “big ideas” of the assignment that week. You have to get a classmate to “endorse” your wiki as being complete.

Q: Is a textbook required for the Educational Assessment BOOC?

A: The course is organized around Classroom Assessment: What Teachers Need to Know by James Popham (seventh edition, 2014). It is not required to purchase the text to complete the course for Digital Badges or a Certificate, however it will be difficult to adequately complete the weekly units without it. It will also be extremely difficult to pass the exams and earn the Expertise badges without a textbook. All participants are strongly encouraged to purchase the text, and it is required for the for-credit participants. The sixth edition from 2010 is available but some of the chapters are out of date and you will have to rely on your classmates’ postings for more current info.

7th edition Paperback @ Amazon.com
Kindle version also available!

6th edition Paperback @ Amazon.com

7th Edition Electronic Text @ CourseSmart (180-day E-text Rental)
International Students, please use CourseSmart UK

Courseload (IU Enrolled Student only) through OnCourse

Q: Can I take the Assessment BOOC for credit?

A: Yes. Students who take the course for credit can earn three graduate level credits from Indiana University (P507, Assessment in Schools). For credit, students are required to complete both the required and expertise sections of each assignment, and interact weekly with the teaching assistant, their peers, and Dr. Hickey. Points will be deducted for missing assignments, incomplete assignments, and non-participation. Final grades will be based on points and exam scores.

Q: How do I enroll for Indiana University credit?

To enroll for credit, visit iuconnected.iu.edu and click on Take a Course. Then click on the corresponding semester. Scroll down and find Assessment in Schools (P507) in the Counseling and Educational Psychology department. Follow the links to register for the IUB section. DO NOT REGISTER FOR THE IUPUI SECTION.

Pre-Registration eMail and Username FAQs
Q: I have more than one email address. Which one should I use to log on?

A: Whatever address you use, it must be linked to a Google account. Most @umail.iu.edu accounts are linked, while many @exchange.iu.edu are not. Any email address can be linked to an account. Visit Google’s Sign Up page (will open in a new window). Under “Choose your username” click “I prefer to use my current email address.”

Q: What information do you receive from Google when I log in?

Google tells us your e-mail address and your name. We only use your e-mail address. We ignore Google’s version of your name; it is not accessed or used anywhere in the course.

Q: Do I have to use my real name in this course?

No. When you register, we ask you how you would like to be seen by other students in the course. It may be to your advantage in networking if you use your real name, but it is not required. Some students take the course using only their given names (like “Jane” or “Mahmood”).

Our digital badges include a name. You can use a different (more complete) name for your badge credentials than you use in the course. We do not show your badge to anyone unless you share it. That way, for example, your boss can see that you have earned badges, but the other students will never see your full name.

We care about your privacy, and if you need more accommodations, we will be happy to consider how we can help.

Deadline FAQs
Q: I live in a different time zone. Are my assignments still due at midnight EDT?

A: All deadlines are due 11:59pm, Eastern Daylight Time (find it here), on the designated date.

Q: Saturday/Sunday is the day I spend with my family and attend worship. Why don't you make the deadline during the week?

A: Many students who take online courses work full time and too many of them do their school work on the weekends. Polls of student in this and other similar courses have consistently shown that most students prefer the Sunday deadline. If the deadline is a conflict for you, you will need to plan ahead.

Q: What is the policy on Late Work?

A: Getting behind in this course means you can’t engage with other students in a timely manner. Engaging with peers is a major component of the course and your work as a student. If you complete your assignments late, you will not interact with other students and the instructor, and you will likely find it difficult to get your assignments endorsed as complete.

Q. My brother is getting married on week six and I will be away. What should I do?

A: Plan ahead. We do understand that you could get behind one week in the course. If you get behind a couple of days to a week, please let us know and we will work with you.

Networking and Interaction FAQs
Q: What are 'professional networking groups' and what will be used to structure them?

A: Once students have introduced themselves and completed the first assignment, students will be organized into groups of 10-20 students with similar interests and aspirations. You will primarily interact with students in your networking group but will be asked to interact with students in other groups on occasion

Assignment FAQs
Q: I am a little confused about the curricular aim I am asked to select in the first assignment. What happens if I select the wrong one?

A: This is just a context for you to use to make sense of the more complex ideas in each chapter. The most important thing is that it be meaningful to you. This will help you use it to anchor the abstract ideas and guidelines the chapters. The second most important thing is that the curricular aim be amenable to multiple assessment formats. In the assignments where this matters you actually will be able to change aims if this is a problem.

Q: How long should I expect to spend on assignments each week?

A: At the minimum it will take you at least an hour to complete the required parts of each assignment and another hour to discuss. But that is really the absolute minimum. Most students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week completing the required parts of the assignments well enough to succeed on the exams. Completing the optional Expertise section (required if you are taking the course for credit) should require 8-12 hours per week minimum. You will see that some students who really get engaged and enjoy the course will spend as much as 20 hours some weeks.

Q: What is the deal with relevance and why do we rank the relevance of things like this?

A. This course uses the notion of relevance to provide a basis for understanding and discussing ideas and make them more concrete. The question of relevance is intended to strongly connect the guidelines to your specific context so you also understand them more generally. One thing that makes a guideline particularly relevant to YOU is that it changes your practice in productive ways. Some of the guidelines may seem highly relevant because they are so obvious (like avoiding opaque directions). The things that are most relevant to you are the things that will have the most consequences in your practice (as in your the first reflection question).

Q: What is peer endorsement and why do we have to do it?

A. Each week you are instructed to endorse at least three of your classmates’ wikifolios for being “complete.” It does not have to be perfect, but all of the elements need to be posted. If your classmates complete all of the optional Expertise elements as well, you should click on the second button to indicate that.

Q: What is peer promotion and why do we have to do it?

A. Each week, you are instructed to endorse one and ONLY one of your classmates’ wikifolios for being exemplary, and give an explanation for what you found exemplary. Ideally, this should be because your classmate helped you understand something or see something in a new light. You should be clear, specific, and detailed in your explanation. The student in each networking group who receives the most promotions will receive a “leader” version of their badge, and will have the option of including what their classmates said about their work in that badge. (Classmates’ comments will remain anonymous in the badge evidence that is shared with the public)

Q: Are we required to do the self-checks?

A. The self-checks are questions found in the back of the textbook chapters. You are not required to but you are strongly advised to. After you complete the unit, but before the exam, you are encouraged to complete the self-check. If you can’t answer the item you should go back and review that part of the chapter. There will be similar items on the exam, but you won’t have time to look up the answer.

Q: What are the practice questions and are we really required to complete them?

A. We want to give students the opportunity to test their knowledge before moving on to the next assignment, and to help prepare them for the exam at the end of each part of the course. Your classmates cannot see your answers; the BOOC administrators can, but they won’t grade them. However, they are part of the required part of the assignment, so something must be entered in that section.

Grading FAQs
Q: When and how will we see our grades?

A: Only those enrolled in the course for credit as students at Indiana University Bloomington will be assigned grades. Wikifolios will be reviewed weekly for completeness (one week after the deadline for posting the draft) for completed wikifolios (i.e., include coherent reflections). Points will be posted in the Canvas gradebook. Most should receive full points. After each of the three quizzes (15 points each) students will be individually notified as to their points on the quiz and their total points so far.

Q: I am a little confused about the reflections. Why are they so important?

A: The reflections are part of the optional Expertise section and are required of students taking the course for credit, and for the Expertise/Expert badges. The whole point of these assignments is fostering disciplinary engagement. We are learning about the discipline of educational assessment, as embodied by the big ideas in textbook. The assignments are designed to help you connect the big ideas in the chapter with your past experiences and future practices; discussing those connections with your classmates is a very productive form of disciplinary engagement. Reflecting on that engagement “locks in” that knowledge and provides objective evidence of disciplinary engagement.

Q: What do you mean when you say you only grade the reflections? What happens if somebody posts the reflections only?

A: The reflections are part of the Expertise Section and are required of all “for-credit” students. Other participants may choose whether or not to complete the reflctions. Only “for-credit” students will be assigned grades. Your reflections have to be meaningful and coherent to get full points for the WikiFolio. You cannot write a meaningful reflection on an assignment that was not completed. So no, you won’t get the points. This “indirect” form of grading is intended to protect the interaction around the WikiFolios from the corrosive effects of grading. This way the instructor spends less time arguing with students over points and giving feedback that is not very useful for learning, and more time giving feedback while the learning is taking place.

Q: How many comments do we have to make each week? Will somebody still get their points if they don't make any comments?

A: All BOOC participants are asked to comment on their peers’ posts. You must make some comments in order to be awarded an Expertise Badge, otherwise you will be awarded a Knowledge Badge only. “For-credit” students must reflect on their participation in their weekly reflection. As with the previous question, you can’t post a meaningful and coherent reflection on collaboration that did not occur. Try not to be the student that provides futile evidence. Instead try to be the student who gets singled out by name by multiple students for making helpful comments and providing great examples. The collaboration reflection is intended to motivate students to interact intensively with their classmates in useful and substantive ways. Requiring specific numbers of comments encourages students to comment when they don’t actually have anything to say. That makes for boring and useless thread.

Levels of Participation in BOOC

Level Cost Likely Commitment Credential
Badges FREE At least 3 hours a week.
Complete all required parts of assignments each week.
Four web-enabled digital badges, containing detailed
information about the course and what you had to do to earn
them. A fifth badge is available for turning your weekly
assignments into a term paper.
Instructor-Verified Certificate FREE in 2015, thanks to a grant from Google At least 3 hours a week.
Complete all required parts of assignments each week.
Digital badges and a signed certificate of completion indicating that
the earner completed at least 30 hours of graduate level coursework.
Official Graduate Credit* Three credits of in-state tuition at Indiana University* At least 10 hours per week.
Complete required and optional
parts of all assignments and interact with instructor
Digital badges, certificate of completion, and 3 official graduate-level
credits from Indiana University. This counts for 45 hours of educator
professional development in Indiana and many other states.
*To enroll for credit you will have to complete IU enrollment. Please visit IU ConnectED here. Find “Assessment in Schools,” P507, at the IUB campus, course number 7496. Do not enroll in the IUPUI campus section.