November 2020 Newsletter

November 2020 Newsletter
November 2020 Newsletter
November 2020 Newsletter

DCU Launches Technology Enhanced Assessment Resource

DCU EDTL Team Members, Rob Lowney (@lowneyrob) and Suzanne Stone  (@suzielearning), recently coordinated the launch of the crowdsourced open educational resource of technology-enhanced assessment exemplars. Two of our EDTL Student Interns also gave their feedback on what is sure to be an invaluable resource going forward for designing effective assessment in the digital age.

Photo by Avery Evans on Unsplash

An updated version of the open educational resource (OER) of technology-enhanced assessment exemplars was launched in November by DCU partners. This updated resource, aimed at those who teach in higher education, contains further examples of how technology can support and enhance assessment. 

The assessment approaches shared in these examples are usually linked to a particular discipline or subject, and cover both formative and summative assessment, peer assessment, group assessment, eportfolio assessment, and more. The exemplars give an overview of the assessment, the technology involved, practical considerations, grading suggestions, and contact details for further information. It is intended that this information would give an educator sufficient detail to implement one of the assessment approaches themselves.

Although co-ordinated by the DCU EDTL team, the OER itself has been crowd-sourced. Many educators in Ireland, the UK and further afield have contributed to it, sharing details of technology-enhanced assessments they have either implemented or planned to implement. This makes the exemplars authentic and practical, having come straight from the coalface of those who teach.

The need for this OER arose out of EDTL activities with DCU staff, the focus of which is on technology-enhanced assessment. For a lot of participants, their experience of assessment was quite traditional and so found it difficult to conceptualise how technology can support and enhance assessment, particularly in a discipline-specific context. 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The OER was kickstarted at an ‘edit-a-thon’ session at the ALT Online Winter Conference 2019, where participants contributed their examples in real-time to a shared Google Doc. This process has been repeated at other events in 2020.

A first, published version of the OER was launched in March 2020, as the education world got to grips with the Covid crisis and turned to technology to support teaching, learning and assessment. Anecdotal feedback indicates it was well-received.

If you would like to contribute an exemplar yourself, please complete this form. For more information, visit the DCU EDTL webpage.

Student Intern Feedback

Ben Ryan, TCD

The broader programme of online learning:
While it is very important to consider how your module will be converted to an online setting, it is equally important to consider the broader programme/school level approach to online learning. By using the same format/tools/assessment style this can greatly reduce stress for students and allow them to be more organised and on top of their work. 

Planning online assessments and learning activities for different sized groups:
An unexpected increase/decrease in the number of students within a module can often create difficulties in carrying out group projects or assessments. For example, a much larger cohort of students in a module can greatly increase the size of teams within a group project, which means some students may struggle to contribute effectively. Having a flexible rather than set number of groups for a given assignment will help prevent this issue from occurring. 

Getting students involved in the planning of the module:
Getting your students to contribute to the module’s structure can help prevent any logistical issues such as clashing deadlines, as well as engaging the students and getting them more excited about the work they are doing. Working with students to plan assessments and module content is very important, especially given the changing circumstances we are all facing.

Alice Hynes, UL

This T&L page developed by DCU is a fantastic resource that I hope all teaching staff will engage with and take something away from it. A number of points stuck out to me, as a student, that I would hope my own lecturers would consider implementing into their own pedagogies in the future. 

Firstly, the authors’ acknowledged the importance of listening to your students and hearing their concerns. Be understanding if they have a number of assessments or assignments due at the same time. Students want to achieve the best grades possible, so at least give them a fighting chance by allowing enough time between submissions/exams. 

Furthermore, I appreciate that the authors’ ask teaching staff to consider their students time, as this is something I have noticed a lack of this semester. If you are expecting your students to be working on an assignment, as well as covering two lecture topics, readings and some exercises, have you considered how much time learners need for this? Increasingly throughout this semester I have found myself struggling to stay on top of the lecture material as the assignment deadlines draw closer and my time is spent on them instead. 

Finally, I echo the authors’ importance in establishing a clear module schedule that outline exactly when assignments are due and when exams are taking place. This way there can be no confusion over deadlines and students have adequate time to make themselves available for exams.

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