Alternative Assessment Formats for Teaching Online

The table below provides some concrete, manageable alternative assessments formats to consider when re-designing your course for online teaching, as well as some additional important considerations. For an overview of adapting your assessments to the remote environment, see our concise document on Shifting your Assessments to the Remote Environment. For more comprehensive information and resources, download our Adapting your Assessments for Remote Teaching and Learning planning guide.

To navigate, please click on the type of currently existing assignment below to go directly to some alternative assessments for that type:


If you currently have:    

You could instead consider:

To assure standards, consider:

Time-constrained traditional exams in invigilated exam rooms; or, in-class tests

“Take-home” exams, in which you set the questions or tasks virtually and ask the students to submit their responses electronically within a set period of time.

As with normal take-home papers, because students have access to materials, you may need to design/reframe the questions to move away from recall-based tasks to questions that require your students to demonstrate how they use information rather than reiterate what they have learned.

In-class presentations where your students deliver to an audience of their peers/others and are assessed not only on the content but also their presentation techniques.

Asking students (individually or in groups) to submit a narrated presentation in electronic form that can then be TA-marked and peer-reviewed.

PowerPoint is familiar to most students, and it offers a slide-by-slide voice-narration recording option.

You could also ask your students to prepare a podcast on the topic to be submitted electronically.

You will need to take account of the fact that, given the recorded presentation format, your students can have multiple opportunities to prepare the item they are submitting, rather than having to cope with the one-off nature of a live presentation.

You will also need to take into account that not every student may have access the appropriate equipment/technology to record audio and/or visuals.

Portfolio, logbook, or assessment notebook

Move hard-copy portfolio submission to e-portfolios or PDF portfolios.

For some of your students without ready Internet access and/or who lack digital confidence, the move to e-portfolios might be quite challenging and intimidating, and they may need extra guidance. The PDF portfolio might be more accessible and not require execution of new, untaught skills to be successful.


Oral exams (i.e., such as in language learning).

These could readily be undertaken by Skype, Zoom, or other electronic remote means (as indeed they already are on occasions when Doctoral examinations are undertaken transnationally).

Your students may need significant support in developing confidence to work virtually where they have no prior experience.


Assessed seminars, group discussions and other similar activities.

It is likely these could be held in an online platform already used within your university such as CourseLink, Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Instructors, TAs, as well as students may need be supported to learn how to use this approach if it isn’t currently part of their normal learning experiences.

Lab work

It may be possible to replicate some aspects of lab work through simulations in which you present your students with data sets and require them to interpret them. Often this means focusing on interpretation of data rather than working in the lab to achieve the results personally.

Simulations can also be used remotely so your students can “see” data produced elsewhere and be asked to comment/interpret.

If you can provide your students with different data sets for personal interpretation, this can mitigate the risk of “over-sharing” or personation.



You can use a digital infographic, mind map, or other visuals that can be submitted via Dropbox tool in CourseLink, for example, or posted in shared spaces, particularly if peer review is required.

To confirm authenticity of the submitter, you may wish to supplement this with a short online oral.


Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) and other test requiring students to demonstrate a range of skills

It may be possible for students to submit digital portfolios containing, for example, videos of themselves performing a range of practical tasks.

This may be problematic in professional disciplines where the achievement of specific capabilities is required at 100% - i.e., drug calculations; etc.

Peer assessments and support

Peers can e-mail each other drafts for comments and/or use a virtual space within CourseLink or use PEAR.

Theatre, dance, and other performances

You could ask individuals and small groups to work off-site to prepare and submit videos of their work, alongside reflective commentaries/accounts.

Group performances may well be complex to organize off-site, and large groups (and even, to some extent, small groups) meeting is not practicing social distancing.

Videos cannot replicate the authentic live performance element, but a video capturing the performance may suffice nonetheless in crisis times.

Studio artwork

You could ask your students to submit a “virtual studio tour” video of their work alongside reflective, commentaries/accounts.

Videos cannot replicate the authentic live engagement with studio artwork, but a video capturing the artist’s voice and movement around their work may suffice nonetheless in crisis times.


Face-to-face feedback

You and TAs can deliver individual and generic group feedback via audio recording (MP3 files) or online means (Skype, Zoom, etc).

Adapted from S. Brown and K. Sambell (2020) “Contingency Planning: Exploring Rapid Alternatives to Face-to-Face Assessment”