Assessment can be made in a myriad of ways and paper and pencil are not the most creative. Students are good at taking surveys, answering questionnaires, producing a project based activity and the like. Online Assessment tools can work in face to face class setting as well. Sometimes as teachers, we get so caught up in the end result, that we forget to look at other talents a student might have that would allow him to arrive at the answers we want.
Assessment cannot be one size fits all, because students learn differently for sure. If we stop relying on that one test,(end of week, chapter, unit or quarter) and start to measure performance based on projects and real life experiences, I now believe we will find that students we thought were hopeless, indeed are learning, just in a different way
Collaborative projects are challenging enough in face to face settings. These same challenges exist in the online classroom, only I think it is even more complicated because it is not easy to see if the team members will fit well together until they start working together. Online surveys and questionnaires may help to pair up teams, but of course this does not guarantee success.
Having a team leader really helps keep the team focused on the tasks assigned as well as making sure that all the tasks are completed in a timely fashion. Team leaders who are understanding of schedules and take into consideration the different time zones students may be in really helps to keep tempers from flaring and patience to be spread a lot thinner.
I don’t necessarily think that the team leader has to be the most knowledgeable, but it does help that they are have a strong yet flexible personality and an ability to get along with others.
Pairing students who have similar interests and even work or study habits probably is a great way to ensure team success. When team members feel that each member is doing their fair share of the work, it builds community among them. Also when the team is able to divide the work so that no one student is carrying the group collaboration is more successful.