Tests and open questions
Both open and closed questions can be used in tests. Closed questions state a proposition which the student can only either deny or accept. Tests based on closed questions are easy and fast to check using software. An example of a closed question is "Does WebCT have its own email application?"
To answer an open question the student has to write the answer in her own words. An example of an open question is "When designing a course, why do you have to take into account the learning environment of the students?" Tests based on open questions cannot be checked by software. They take more time, both for the student and the teacher.
How does the learner get feedback?
The discussion forum in the web learning environment makes it more easy to handle the answers given to open questions: If the students give their answers in the discussion forum, also other students and not only the teacher can comment on the answers. Often it is also true that there don't exist wrong or right answers to open questions. In these cases it is enough to sketch and elaborate the answers in the discussion forum. This way also other students benefit from the answers.
At its best answering the open questions will make the students think about the reasons and relationships of facts. This way the student creates new knowledge for herself and not only repeats the things she already knows. When answering closed questions the student might also need to think a lot before being able to give the right answer. However, it is a known fact that only when you are able to explain something in your own words, you can be sure that you master the subject.