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By Lynda Weinman | Friday, May 01, 2009

Testing, testing... Do you think lynda.com should have testing?

lyndaRecently we launched Certificates of Completion; a new tracking system that awards certificates to active members who complete a course in our Online Training Library. Each course completed earns a new certificate for that course. The question was bound to come up – will we ever offer tests and “real” certification; something that assesses a member’s actual skill?

At this point we have no plans to offer tests, though I’m curious to hear your opinions on ideas we’ve discussed internally. The easiest type of test to implement would be multiple-choice questions that would test your memorization of the course’s key points. From our end, this type of test would require upfront work to write the questions, but then could be run automatically, just like our current Certificates of Completion. We would probably have to charge for these tests as we would have costs associated with creating them, but the extra fees would nominal.

As a long time educator, I’m not a fan of multiple-choice testing. I think it tests memorization and rote learning skills instead of critical thinking skills, artistic skills, problem solving skills, or communication skills.

If we were to introduce assessment, I’d prefer that it be in the form of active learning assignments that would demonstrate true understanding versus good test-taking skills. One idea is to implement a Certificates of Merit program that could be overseen by industry experts, or we could open up the award process via a community-voting engine. Once the certification becomes performance-based rather than test-taking based, the overhead for us to manage and implement would be higher, and this would likely have to be a much more costly type of add on to our service. But the benefit to you would far outweigh that of the multiple-choice option: Employers and potential clients would have proof that you really know your stuff, I suppose we could even offer each of these options, if there were a demand.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas! Please take a couple minutes to complete our poll, and I invite you to leave your comments.

[poll id="3"]

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