Archive Version of e-Notes

December 2007 e-Learning Newsletter

Vol. 2, Issue 4, December 2007

Assessment Is Sexy?

by Sue Pieper

What makes assessment sexy? I’m using “sexy” here in the slang sense of the word, meaning “highly appealing,” “interesting,” or “attractive.” Clearly, these are not terms we usually use to describe assessment. Let’s face it. Assessment, for many faculty, staff, and students, is far from appealing. Why? Part of the reason might be all of the different, confusing ways we use the word “assessment.”

I’m sure you’ve heard of at least some of the ways we talk about assessment in higher education. We speak about formative and summative assessment, direct and indirect assessment, local and external assessment, high stakes and low stakes assessment, assessment for accountability, and assessment for improvement. The list goes on and on. To add to the uncertainty, it seems that even experts in the field can’t agree on a basic definition of assessment.

In all of this confusion, however, one common thread exists. Assessment is about student learning or, as a report from the National Research Council put it, “knowing what students know.” Bernard Madison wisely pointed out that faculty have always asked their students, “Do you see? Is that clear?” These are, in essence, assessment questions. Today, we have formalized these questions with an assessment process. The process of designing student learning outcomes, creating opportunities for them to learn these outcomes, measuring the outcomes, and analyzing and interpreting results helps us to improve teaching and learning.

At the e-Learning Center, we can help you incorporate the assessment process into your online, hybrid, or web-enhanced course. We can also show you how you can use technology to enhance the assessment process. As a result, you will know more about what your students know and how well they know it. Our ultimate goal is to help you to improve student learning in your course. What can be sexier than that?

Madison, B. (2001). Assessment: The burden of a name. Retrieved October 1, 2007, from
National Research Council. (2001). Knowing what students know: The science and design of educational assessment. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

What's Happening

New workshops

The e-Learning Center is now offering a variety of new workshops, such as Google Docs, iPod and iTunes, Podcasting, Wireless Internet, Blogs, Digital Photography, and Social Network Software. Visit our training schedule on the website to register.

iPod Mini infront of a google docs window

Last edition of print-based e-Notes

In support of NAU’s goal of Sustainability and Stewardship of Place, the e-Learning Center will be discontinuing the printed version of e-Notes. Future editions of e-Notes will be delivered via NAU email. You may request a printed version of e-Notes via

Tech Buddies Staff Satellite Office in SBS West

The e-Learning Center will now have student technicians, Tech Buddies, available in SBS West. Tech Buddies will be available to help instructors in-person with Bb Vista and other instructional technologies. Schedules for our Tech Buddy programs in the College of Education and SBS West may be viewed on the ELC Support web page.

Director's Note

Don Carter, Director of the e-Learning Center

In preparation for the spring semester, I would like to mention a few things that will help you communicate with your students. Each course will now have a designated class email listserv which is specifically tied to the enrollments in that Bb Vista course section. The advantage of a class listserv is that you will now be able to send a welcome message and essential correspondence to your students outside of Bb Vista. Everyone, including instructors, teaching assistants, other course designers, and students whom have been manually enrolled to satisfy incompletes, will be notified (unlike the current LOUIE mail feature which only notifies enrolled students). In addition, the class preview page is a great way to inform students before your class starts about basic class information (textbooks, contact information, basic schedule, etc.). We look forward to another exciting and engaging semester!

Copy Course Content from past shell to new shell

Each semester, when you set up your Bb Vista class, you have different options on what to do with this new “shell.” If you have taught a class in Bb Vista previously, you can copy that course content into your new class shell.

To learn more about setting up copying course content, visit the tutorials on our website.

What's New

New faces at the e-Learning Center!

Sue Pieper, New Assessment Coordinator

Sue Pieper, New Assessment Coordinator
Dr. Suzanne (Sue) Pieper reported to duty as the e-Learning Center’s Coordinator of Academic Assessment in September. Prior to coming to NAU, Sue served as the Assessment Specialist in Academic Affairs at Truman State University. Sue plans to focus on assessing learning outcomes in online, hybrid, and web-enhanced in-person courses. She will consult and collaborate with faculty who want to develop and implement creative and meaningful assessments in their courses.

John Doherty, New Instructional Designer

John Doherty, New Instructional Designer
Dr. John Doherty joined the e-Learning Center as an Instructional Designer in late November. John’s recent experience as the Resource Specialist Leader for the College of Arts & Letters library team, a recent doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the NAU College of Education, and online and in-person teaching experience will bring great value to the Instructional Design team. John states, “I am excited at the opportunity to learn from the e-Learning Center team, especially as the University has such ambitious plans for its online learning initiative. I look forward to continuing to work with faculty and staff in my new role.”


School of Forestry building

During 2007, Jay Thompson, Support Systems Analyst, Sr., encouraged the use of Class Preview Pages for every course and introduced the use of recorded seminar series using Camtasia in the School of Forestry. Students from the School of Forestry can now view recorded lectures, while prospective students can peruse basic information about School of Forestry courses. The School of Forestry models how technology can better serve current and future students.

e-Learning Tidbits

Class Mailing Lists Now Available

Instructors may now use class mailing lists to contact all students enrolled in a course via NAU email. Instructors may even set up a “welcome message” that will be emailed to new students as they enroll; this might be used to communicate textbook and other basic syllabus information to students before a term begins. The mailing list enrollment is updated automatically and is “one-way” (in other words, students cannot send to it). To activate your Class Mailing List, or for more information, please visit

Course Preview Page

You can create a document or web page and set it as a Course Preview Page to present information about your course, making it available to all current and potential students at NAU. This allows students to find out more about your course before enrolling or starting the class. Students can view the Course Preview Pages at, which captures information about all NAU classes and links to any Course Preview Pages used in Bb Vista classes. To learn more about setting up a Course Preview Page, visit the tutorials on our website.

Upcoming Workshops

Please go to e-Learning's training website to see upcoming workshops.