ON DEMAND: An Example of Authentic Assessment: Building career readiness through online professional networks
The connection between a student’s education and their future career is a key for many students because their career is often a motivation for and goal of their education. There are several ways to bolster career readiness in online classes. One is through Mason's Career Services Office, which provides tools to guide students through activities to identify and articulate their career-readiness skills. We implemented another step as an alternative/authentic assessment. In the beginning of the semester, all students create their own LinkedIn page, as is suggested by Mason’s Career Service Office. After that, they also should post the link to the discussion board, and classmates would all use this to form mutual contacts. In this way, the class is building connections between a student and the other classmates, instructor, and students who have finished the class in the past. This strategy has shown itself to be easy to implement. At the same time, it is very successful in enabling students to build a strong online community through online professional networks. This strategy also develops a bridge between students and industry. In one example, a previous student shared a job posting from their company asking whether anyone from the class was interested in internships. Previous students have also shared valuable information about jobs, resumes, the skills desired in the field, and the most common mistake that freshly graduated students usually make when applying for a job. In some instances, former students have shared some of the current industry challenges that their companies are facing, which stimulated current students to analyze and contemplate solutions in their class projects. In internal evaluation of one of the courses which employs this strategy, 75% of students indicated that they believe that it will positively impact their career. Seniors are especially interested in this interaction. The interaction has proven motivating for current students and is not restricted to online classes.
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