3 Useful Online language testing options

Online language testing options

It’s been nearly a year now that my district has been online.  In that time, I’ve tried many different online language testing options.  Some have been great, some not so great.  One of the biggest issues with teaching online is testing – how can you hold students accountable without being too cumbersome on either student or teachers?  How do you keep students from cheating by using Google translate or any other resources?  Which online language testing options are the easiest to grade? I’ve tried giving tests using forms as well as dedicated testing websites.  While none are perfect, some are definitely better than others. 

Here’s my experience with using the different online language testing sites as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

Google Forms This is probably one of the easiest and most accessible online language testing options for teachers and students.  You can add multiple types of questions: short answer, longer answer, multiple choice, checkboxes.  You can add points to each question as well as making an answer key.  One weakness is that you can’t add an audio file for any listening questions. 

However, you can upload audio to Youtube as an mp4 (there are websites that will convert mp3 to mp4 for you) and then embed that youtube video in the form.  This is an extra step, so if you have a lot of audio passages it can be time-consuming.  If you do make an answer key before giving students the test, one downside is that many students know the hack to showing the source code – and the answers.  So it’s better to make the test without an answer key, then adding the key after students have tested.  It will grade the answers they’ve submitted without them being able to view those answers.

Microsoft Forms:  If you’re a Microsoft Teams school, this is pretty easy to use.  It’s very similar to google forms in the types of questions you can ask. The form can be integrated as an assignment within the Teams classroom.  You can then grade the form either within the form itself, or by opening submissions from within the assignments tab.  Again, the audio issue means an extra step for teachers.

GoFormative:  This site allows you to add different types of questions and content to your quizzes, with more options than either Forms system.  You can add video, text, images as prompts as well as essay, M/C, short answer, true or false and other types of questions.  If you choose to pay for the premium version, you can also upload audio as well as asking several other types of questions (audio response, categorize, graphing, mapping, numeric and sequence).  This makes it one of the best online language testing options that I’ve tried.

I have not used the premium, but at $12/month it may be worth your while if you want to use some of these question types.  In addition, the premium version adds anti-cheating tools to detect if students are copying/pasting from other sources.  The thing I really like about this service is the grading side – while the forms are easy enough to grade, GoFormative is even easier and more intuitive.  You can click on a bar that ranges from red to green and it assigns the points to students.  I personally plan to continue using this online language testing site for grading – it will grade the m/c questions and the longer answers that must be manually graded are easiest in GoFormative.

Online language testing options and cheating

And as far as cheating goes, what can we do?  The short answer is really…nothing.  Students who are at home will probably use a translator. Even with a program that detects copy/pasting, the fact is that most of our students have more than one device at their disposal.  They can easily look something up on a phone, then type it in to the computer.  So there’s no real way to keep them from doing it, no matter which online language testing options you choose. 

That doesn’t mean you have to accept these responses – I always explain to my students why they shouldn’t cheat and that it is generally easy for me to catch them when they do – but in the end, students who want to cheat will find a way to do so.  Students who want to learn a new language will do their best, but students who are more concerned with getting points in the gradebook will do whatever it takes to get those points.  It’s a sad fact of life, but we can’t really change human nature.  

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