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M. Ellis

Nanyang Technological University (SINGAPORE)
While not completely replacing the traditional classroom, online learning continues to develop as an alternative to face-to-face instruction (Marginson, 2004, Yuen & Ma, 2008). The rapid advancement of technology has resulted in “an impetus to increasingly develop online materials” (Mills, 2005, p.43) and the implementation of online learning has become particularly relevant for pre-service teachers. It is essential that future teachers should be trained “with methods and tools that are similar to those they are supposed to use with their own students” (Delfino & Persico, 2007, p.351). Responding to changes in the global educational landscape and increased use of digital technologies, Singapore has developed several initiatives to prepare students to be global citizens (NIE, 3:3:3 Roadmap, 2007).

The National Institute of Education (NIE) is the provider of teacher education in Singapore and has the responsibility to ensure that teachers are equipped with knowledge of the latest trends in educational contexts. An institution within the Nanyang Technological University, NIE is simultaneously accountable to the Ministry of Education in Singapore.

The Communication Skills for Teachers course (CST) was introduced for all pre-service teachers in July 2005. A catalyst for the development of this course, which focuses on speaking and writing skills, was a perception that the standards of English of Singaporean teachers had declined. A 2008 review of the course resulted in a differentiation to suit participants on Diploma, Degree, Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) Primary and PGDE Secondary Programmes.

A second review of the course was undertaken in 2010. This began the process of providing online modules for post-graduates training to become secondary school teachers. Initiatives described in A Teacher Education Model for the 21st Century, NIE staff perceptions about the programme and students’ changing needs were the three main sources of impetus for this second review.

As the CST course is mandatory for all NIE students (approximately 1000 students per calendar year), both full time and part time tutors teach the course. The two main areas of assessment, an oral presentation and email written online constitute 90 % of the final grade. For purposes of ensuring grading is consistent, standardization meetings are important but not always possible given the tutors’ varied schedules.

This presentation will outline the development and implementation of online standardization for the written assessment component of the CST course using interactive Web 2 tools such as Edmodo, Croc-a-Doc, Google Docs and Blackboard 9, the learning management system used in NIE. Utilizing collaborative tools for standardization saves time and reduces the need for face-to-face meetings for this important aspect of assessment.