Well, not quite new, but a new wrinkle on the old way to assess language skills. When I worked in the Second Language area of my former employer, they did assessments in an interview session where the interviewer could only ask and respond according to a script. I always thought that this could be automated and it was one of the items I was going to push forward this year before my contract was not renewed. Ah well, missed opportunities. It’s nice to see that Desire2Learn’s latest upgrade allows for recording right in the tool – finally. This is something second language learners have been looking for – having used other solutions like the clunky Can8 system – having an audio stream connect directly to the LMS is a great thing. Of course, assessing verbal skills is tricky, and certainly you wouldn’t want to do too much of this sort of assessment at a distance, but business courses could easily say record your 10-second elevator pitch, listen to it, improve it and submit the best version. All in that one assignment you have a reflective component that deepens the learning and builds a practical skill both things lacking in higher education. To build it out further, you could add in a component of what makes a good elevator pitch prior to the assessment, perhaps a video of a good elevator pitch or a demonstration of you giving an elevator pitch.
For me this is a real advancement in LMS’s. We’re not relying on written skills (which have been in decline for the last few decades) as much as one used to because profs are bored with marking papers and students are bored with writing papers. Yes, papers still have a purpose in higher education. Look at the popularity of Michael Wesch, who largely has gained his academic fame from videos on YouTube (not to say that he’s not a highly respected anthropologist, he is the author of many of those papers!). Surely these are markers that education is changing – shouldn’t academics respond?