25 September 2008

3A Software: Accountability, Accreditation, Assessment

Choose Your A. With no clear front runner, the terms accountability, accreditation, and assessment all refer to a class of software competing in the higher ed market. The purpose of said software encompasses all the terms, of course. Institutions seek one or more tools to demonstrate accountability for learning. The tools must operate in a style that is suitable for accreditation purposes and must support multiple forms of assessment. That's a pretty tall order for any software application and I'm naturally suspicious of any company that claims to have it fully developed.

Range of products. The current software options range from complete content management applications to more specialized tools. That means the prices range from hundreds of thousands of dollars (per year) to the more moderate tens of thousands. Some companies package their accountability software with student portfolio software as a low-cost add-on.

TaskStream AMS (stands for Accountability Management System), Blackboard Outcomes, Tk20, and LiveText are well-known platforms that function as tools for accountability, accreditation, and assessment. All of them have faced the challenge of designing software that can be used efficiently by small schools as well as large schools, and customized for local needs.

Considerations in the selection of software:

  • Purpose: to organize the work of on-going systematic assessment OR ALSO to serve as the location of data collection and analysis.
  • Scope: for use by assessment report writers only OR ALSO by the faculty and staff members who are responsible for assessment on the front line.
  • Display: as an internal platform for campus members only OR ALSO as a platform for sharing with accreditors and other stakeholders.
  • Integration: to be linked to other campus systems OR to stand alone.

(My own preference for an assessment system is to maintain a separate platform. I'll blog more about that this fall.)

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, educationy, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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