Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Electronic Management of Assessment at the White Rose Learning Technologist meeting in York

On Wednesday 22nd April I attended the White Rose Learning Technologist Forum held at York St John University. The meeting was facilitated by Lisa Gray from Jisc and focused on the Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA). 

As part of the meeting Lisa discussed Jisc's current work on EMA and that they have created 4 projects out of a larger body of work looking at  the electronic management of assessment. The 4 project areas are:

1. EMA Requirements Map
2. Feedback Hub feasibility study
3. EMA Toolkit
4. Reliability of assignment submissions


The first 3 projects are been taken forward by Jisc. The reliability of assignment submission although important to the sector it is something the service providers are working on as a priority and Jisc have paused on this this area while the market leaders make changes.

More information about the different projects and the work done to get to the current position can be seen on EMA blog : http://ema.jiscinvolve.org/wp/.


The session itself started with scene setting by Lisa and then the attendees working in small groups and pairs to identify the challenges of EMA. Using a long list of activities and issues we worked through the list identifying areas common to us all and coming up with our top areas for improvement or challenges in implementing EMA. From my small group the following areas were identified as being barriers to implementation of EMA. 

1. Not having a longitudinal view of the feedback for both staff and students
2. Not being able to make individual amendments to deadlines etc for students with extensions or late submissions. 
3. The software not being flexible enough to handle the wide range of moderation methods at different institutions e.g 2nd markers leaving comments for 1st marker but not the student. 
4. Systems not being integrated, such as Gradecentre into Student records systems.

The views from across the room were very similar in their main issues. It was interesting that staff resistance was not one of the issues particularly identified as it seemed that if the tools supported current processes staff would not be resistant. Also some institutions had provided staff with 2 monitors or an iPad to support the move to online marking and submission. 

The second part of the session we were split into 3 large groups to work on the 3 different Jisc projects and though about what we would want it to be or meant to us and how as a community could contribute to it.

I was in the EMA toolkit group and we looked at how the toolkit would fit around the assessment life cycle that was based on work from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Assessment lifecycle from Jisc http://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/electronic-assessment-management  
As  a group we thought the toolkit should have a number of 'lenses' for different groups of people, including academics, students, learning technologists, administrative staff and senior management. The toolkit would highlight key areas or filter information less relevant depending on which lens you were viewing through. Also we suggested including information on the challenges and the 'pain' people had gone through for certain areas, giving a true reflection of implementing and supporting EMA. The toolkit should also be created under an open licence with institutions able to adapt it to suit local needs by adding policies and case studies from their own area. The community would then feed back into the 'original' toolkit with case studies and links to documents and resources that could be shared with others. 

At the end of the afternoon a number of people shared their ideas and experiences, these included a bespoke assessment handling system, protecting students from systems downtime and the introduction of e-submission policy. 

Overall a really enjoyable afternoon and lots of shared experiences about managing assessment from across the Yorkshire region.