Dr Rob Weale (CELT) has written an extended blog post titled ‘Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – with Technology’ which explores the interface between digital technology and UDL, and presents a mechanism which aims to broker an initial engagement between educators and the use of digital technologies specifically for UDL.
Dr Indrani Lahiri teaches a second year undergraduate Public Relations module and two third year International Public Relations and Global Advertising Practices modules within the Leicester Media School at DMU.
All three of the modules are assessed using multiple methods, one of which is a group presentation that the students are required to deliver in small groups. Due to the nature of the modules, and from experience of teaching similar modules at a different university, in 2015/16 Indrani sought to find a way to easily record the student presentations on the second year Public Relations module. ‘Public Relations’ will involve the graduates being expected to present in front of a panel or larger audience in industry and recording the presentations provides a resource for students to use for reflection and development. The recordings can also be downloaded and with the appropriate consent from peers, students can use their recording as evidence of successful group work after graduation.
Following a conversation with the ELT Project Officer Indrani engaged with the DMU Replay system as it was important to record both a traditional video feed alongside screen content and audio.
In the lab space available, a high definition webcam with microphone was used to record the student’s audio and the video feed alongside the screen of the PC used to present with.
Building this recording element into the 2015/16 presentation assessment component helped the students to practice their presentation skills in this scenario whilst providing a resource to aid Indrani, the moderator and the External Examiner in assessing the students as well as providing an artefact that the students can keep after graduation.
As the presentations are delivered in groups conversations were held around Intellectual Property Rights and individual consent to use the videos for reflective purposes and/or as part of an online CV. The JISC model consent form was adapted and students were asked to sign a copy of the form to give permission for their colleagues to take and use a copy of their respective video.
Only one student took a copy of their group’s recording in 2015/16 and this was found to be because the adapted consent form posed a barrier. Students wanted to have a copy of their recording but it is suggested that signing the form made this ‘official’ and this put them off engaging with this aspect of the initiative.
Indrani, and the External Examiner, have found having the presentation recordings available to be very valuable and Indrani has received positive feedback from the External Examiner on this use of technology in the assessment activities.
Feedback from the students suggests that although the introduction of the recording technology was positively received, they would have appreciated this earlier in the module. Indrani has recognised the need to engage with DMU Replay earlier on and in 2016/17 rolled-out the use of DMU Replay on the two third year International Public Relations and Global Advertising Practices modules.
Since students found this approach to be valuable, in 2016/17 they recorded their individual presentations from their own space for International Public Relations as an evidence of practical work to showcase their competency as a video blogger. Again this became a part of their portfolio submission that they can take with them as evidence of practical work to job interviews.
Indrani also recorded the assessed presentations for Global Advertising Practices in 2016/17.
The plan for 2017/18 is to further expand the use of DMU Replay and make this available for the Global Advertising Practices module. Recording practice presentation runs, blog posts and the assessed presentation will add value for these students who will be briefed to produce an advertising campaign focused on artificial intelligence and robotics that is based on a real brief from industry. Again, having their recording available after graduation will be valuable when seeking employment.
Alongside Indrani’s use of DMU Replay to enable students to reflect and produce video artefacts to support their employability; Indrani is also using DMU Replay to provide video feedback on other written assessment components – the External Examiner is supportive of this approach.
Assessing students using different modes and providing opportunities for students to reflect on their performance by providing feedback using different tools enables a Universal Design for Learning approach. Students are demonstrating their knowledge in different and more creative ways that align to the learning outcomes and they can also watch their presentation and video blog posts back as part of their self-directed reflective activities.
In 2017/18 Indrani is considering opening the student presentations to a wider audience as part of a Public Relations event. This would provide further opportunities for Indrani to provide feedback or even encourage the student cohort to feedback to each other as their presentations build toward the Public Relations event.
Thank you to Dr Indrani Lahiri for enabling this blog post to be created.
ELT Project Officer.
Pamela Hardaker is a part-time lecturer teaching Mobile Robotics in the Faculty of Technology. Pamela began teaching at the beginning of the 2015/16 academic year; her background is that of a Distance Learning Masters student and one of her previous roles was with a national charity that works to change the lives of disabled people by helping them to use digital technology at work, at home or in education.
Given Pamela’s passion for widening participation through the use of technology and her first-hand experience of a fully online Masters course, she decided from the start that she would endeavour to make her third-year Undergraduate module as engaging and accessible as possible.
The Mobile Robotics module has been running for a number of years and Pamela noticed that there was a high instance of students with a Specific Learning Difference in the 2015/16 cohort. This spurred her on further to provide content and materials in as many different formats as possible; an approach that aligns with DMU’s Universal Design for Learning principles.
One of the approaches that Pamela took was to record her lectures for sharing with the students. Early on, Pamela would bring a laptop with webcam to class and rely on a student in the front row to point the camera at the screen and press record. This approach worked to an extent but there was an element of extra work to encode and upload the finished recording and the audio and visual quality was not particularly good due to the recording of a projected image and the audio recording equipment in use.
However, at a Programme Management Board meeting late in 2015 Pamela and the ELT Project Officer working with the Faculty of Technology were introduced; the shared passion for ELT soon became apparent.
In early 2016 as the Multimedia Enhancement project delivered the site-wide availability of Panopto at DMU; Pamela and the ELT Project officer soon arranged a meeting to look at how this technology might support Pamela’s already inclusive practice.
The first trial run with Panopto (instead of the laptop with webcam) was a success and even the students in the lecture theatre could see how much easier this approach is and were relieved to no longer be responsible for pressing record and stop on the recording technology whilst attending lectures.
Pamela continued to record all of her lectures on the Mobile Robotics module in 2016 and students have appreciated having these resources available.
With regard to attendance, classroom recordings were being provided from the start and therefore the move from a laptop with camera to Panopto enhanced the offering rather than providing anything new as such, it just meant that resources looked better for the students and Pamela no longer had to invest time into encoding recordings.
However, there was a drop-off in attendance witnessed but it is assumed that with the nature of the module this would have happened regardless of the lecture recording activities.
In the future, Pamela will be delivering and facilitating labs – potentially alongside lecturing and also managing studying for a PhD.
Through conversations with the ELT Project Officer, Pamela is keen to further explore the practice that the new DMU Replay service can enable and is keen to experiment with recording lab work for students to reflect upon and for assessment.
Pamela is also considering using the 2015/16 recordings as pre-sessional material to help new colleagues teaching on the module to take a different approach in classes to cater for the diverse learning styles that the module seems to attract.
Thank you to Ms Pamela Hardaker for enabling this blog post to be created and shared.
ELT Project Officer
Dr Paul Cropper is the Programme Leader for MSc Energy and Sustainable Building Design in the School of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Faculty of Technology. Paul was an early adopter with regard to using the Multimedia Enhancement solution (Panopto) at DMU and he is an e-champion in the Faculty.
This blog post describes Paul’s early experiences of recording, some of the barriers that he had to overcome and Paul’s plans for the future.
Paul teaches two semester 2 Modules; Ventilation and Daylight Modelling, and Energy and Thermal Performance. Both Modules enrol attending and Distance Learning students with relatively small cohorts (approximately 6) attending and 15 plus Distance Learning students per Module.
In 2014/15 Paul experimented with the Multimedia Enhancement solution when delivering classes that focus on the demonstration of a proprietary piece of software. The software is complex in nature and Paul wanted to record the sessions in which the software is demonstrated to provide the Distance Learning students with an insight into these classroom sessions. With the ELT Project Officer, Paul explored the use of the recording software on the classroom computer to record the screen and he also introduced PowerPoint slides as a mechanism to automatically index the screen recording using the Events function. However, this was not successful as due to the classroom hardware set up it was not possible for Paul to project the computer screen with the complex software demonstration whilst viewing PowerPoint slides on the lectern monitor simultaneously.
Paul would have recorded further sessions in semester 2 2014/15 but he was unfortunately not always timetabled to teach in a space where the recording software was installed but following the project roll-out on January 4th 2016 Paul was able to use the Multimedia Enhancement software in any classroom and he seized this opportunity.
Subsequently, Paul has recorded every class on both Modules during the 2015/16 academic year. As described, Paul’s initial aspiration was to provide the Distance Learning students with a more engaging resource that represents the live classroom environment when demonstrating complex software and the Distance Learning students have provided nothing but positive feedback in this respect. However Paul’s small cohort of attending students have also fed back that they value having the recordings available and Paul has even gone so far as sharing recordings between the two Module cohorts in the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to make the same material available to different cohorts. This approach to recording for everyone and sharing content speaks to DMU’s Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles and ideas in that the resources that were initially created with Distance Learning students in mind benefit all students on the Modules; an aspiration of the DMU Replay service that is currently being implemented at DMU ahead of 2016/17.
Paul talked about UDL and DMU Replay specifically when talking about his use of multimedia in the curriculum as this is a high profile change for DMU and Paul wants to support UDL as well as the Distance Learning students and he sees the use of multimedia as one approach to help satisfy these strategic and pedagogic needs.
Although not linked to the use of recording technology, there were two sessions this year that no students attended. Paul did not make any recordings on these occasions but none of the students raised this as an issue which suggests that the students’ non-attendance on these occasions was due to other factors rather than reliance on a piece of recorded material. Furthermore, as the subject material for all lectures is also provided as formal written lessons (in PDF form) students were not significantly disadvantaged by two sessions not being recorded. This demonstrates another advantage of providing material in more than one form, a principal of UDL.
However, although Paul has not experienced a fall in attendance there is some concern that students may see the recording of classroom activity as an alternative to attending as the DMU Replay policy kicks in and Paul does, and will continue to, re-iterate the need to attend as well as make use of recordings in induction week. Paul is also planning to gather specific student feedback with regard to the use of recorded material and its impact during semester 2 2016/17.
Going back to Paul’s aspirations to record complex software and have Panopto automatically create Events within the resource; Paul tried to create some resources at the desk. However, as has been documented before, recording at the desk can feel very different to recording classes and Paul felt that the content he created in this way was not of a standard he would wish to publish and that is easily achievable when recording in a live teaching environment.
The feeling is that when recording at the desk the student expectation may be heightened by way of production value as they may assume that more time and effort has been put in to an at the desk recording than one that is recorded on the fly as classes are delivered. Paul feels that having more detailed notes or a script when recording at the desk may help and he will try this in 2016/17.
Also, thinking about 2016/17, Paul will continue to record his classes but he is planning make use of the Panopto Editor to manually add Events to provide a resource that is navigable in the student view rather than trying to use PowerPoint where he would not usually to create Events automatically.
Outside of recording classroom sessions Paul has also used the Multimedia Enhancement solution in a variety of different ways to enhance his Modules:
- Paul recorded a visiting lecturer from Loughborough University to ensure that the Distance Learning students could engage with the lecture;
- At the desk, Paul has recorded a presentation based on a Research Project that he is involved in and this has been shared with colleagues in the UK (Loughborough University), the USA (University of California, Berkeley) and India (CEPT University); and
- At the request of the students, Paul has recorded materials to support his cohort to understand the requirements of assignments and with report writing, as the technical report that forms part of the assignment can be challenging and having a video resource available that outlines expectations without providing a full example (that could be plagiarised) supports the students in creating their assignments.
In summary, Paul’s early thoughts around recording specific taught sessions for Distance Learning students have grown into Paul being comfortable enough with the software to record all classes in 2015/16 along with supplementary materials and visiting lecturers (at the desk and in classrooms) that benefit all students within the cohorts with some resources being shared.
This is a great example of how a fundamental use of such technology to record classes, similar to that required by the DMU Replay policy, can organically grow into extended use of multimedia in the curriculum and for other purposes such as Paul’s involvement with and recording for the Research Group.
Paul’s top tips:
- When recording at the desk, produce detailed notes or a script before recording as ‘teaching’ at the desk is harder than it may seem but not impossible with a bit of preparation.
- Keep re-iterating the message that students need to attend and take advantage of the recordings being made available to help make the most of their learning opportunity at DMU.
Thank you to Dr Paul Cropper for enabling this blog post to be produced.
ELT Project Officer.
Since 2007, Dr Sophy Smith (DMU Teacher Fellow, 2015 and HEA Senior Teacher Fellow, 2015) has been taking a fresh approach to assessing students on the MA/MSc Creative Technologies course at DMU.
In essence, Sophy and the team provide an open choice to the students with regard to what they study, how they are assessed and the format that they express themselves in.
At the beginning of the Major Project module, the students will have a conversation with Sophy and they will firstly decide whether they will go for an MA or an MSc in Creative Technologies. Then, based on the student’s aspirations regarding employability a set of learning objectives and the assessment format will be agreed.
The module is 15 weeks in total with 2 hours per week being delivered by Sophy and the other members of the teaching team. There are also workshops and seminars and a project is started around half way through.
The only rigid assessment component is that the students are required to provide a critical commentary regarding their project however the format of this component is also negotiable. Students do often opt to provide a written critical commentary but some students have also opted to provide a collection of blog posts, a film or any other media.
Sophy began taking this approach on two modules in 2007 but this negotiated approach to assessment is now the norm on all of the course specific modules that make up the MA/MSc Creative Technologies.
As part of the course there are shared modules too and students do not have the choice when taking these modules, only MA/MSc specific modules provide the opportunity to follow a tailored path for assessment.
One example of this flexible approach to assessment includes a student who knew that he wanted to work in the games industry producing Machinima style movies and therefore the module was tailored toward this goal for this student and his project title and assessment mechanism was also focused on this goal.
Linking the assessment to the student’s employability aspirations in this way ensures that students build a body of work throughout the life of the course to show prospective employees and this triangulated approach (linking learning objectives to employability goals and enabling a preferred expression format) is believed to be linked to the high employment rates that the graduates of this course demonstrate.
This tailored model also supports the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in that from the beginning the students are engaging in ways that suit them as individuals and they will be assessed in a manner that plays to their strengths.
Students also feel as though they own their learning experience on this course which helps them to feel motivated and to achieve.
When marking, the learning objectives that were agreed at the beginning of the course are made known to the marker and second marker and the student work is marked against these; alongside general marking criteria in line with PG regulations.
The negotiated learning objectives do align with the learning outcomes on each module to ensure parity and quality standards are upheld and Sophy believes that the success of this approach is rooted in the clarity of the learning objectives.
Typically, the MA/MSc Creative Technologies will attract around 15 students per year and the flexible approach to assessment is now standard across all course specific modules on this course.
There is a new MA Digital Arts that is coming on stream in 2016/17 and this good practice has been carried over to the new course where students will again be able to negotiate their learning objectives and assessment style from the beginning based on their employment related goals.
Thank you to Dr Sophy Smith, Reader in Creative Technologies at the Institute of Creative Technologies, DMU for enabling this blog post.
I had the pleasure of attending JISC’s ‘Investigating students’ expectations of the digital environment’ in Leicester with a focus on ‘the digital expectations and experiences of learners in the skills sector’ (14/04/2016). The scope of the study covers work-based learning (including apprenticeships), adult and community learning and offender learning.’ There was mixed group of attendance with some of us from HE. This event gave us an insight into the issues and opportunities affecting learners in the skills sector in respect of the ‘digital environment’; such learners can easily become learners (students) of HE too. In brief research in this area by JISC involved gathering data and having focus groups using ‘experience cards’ which can be used to ‘support conversations about students digital experience’. These cards are great at starting off conversations which can often be tricky at first and hopefully allows students to think about various areas around technology and related services that impact their experience during their course of study. These cards are multi-purpose and can be tweaked to suit the learning context, they can be easily used as a planning or an evaluation tool. By getting the learners ‘doing’ something hopefully allows for a more rounded response and consider the issues at hand.
Understanding the learner experience and expectations of the digital environment is important to channel support and guidance for our diverse cohort of students and inform us about the technology we have invested to use – therefore having an added opportunity for the ‘student voice’ funnel is just as important as in appreciating the lecturer’s learning and teaching objectives for the course who is having to balance how technology can facilitate and support the curriculum. It’s good to know that we incorporate this in the project work that we do.
Technology can facilitate in so many HE academic practices as we know -assessment, teaching content, communications, research and collaboration, such technology and service related technology now is very much extended into the modern workplace and digital literacy is regarded as a key skill for graduate/post graduate employability. We recognise that teaching staff value sharing effective practices in the usage of technology e.g. PGCertHE for their professional development and starting from their academic teaching practices is essential to see the wider uses of applied technology. We know what purpose technology can serve in a course of study and that the responsibility lies in how the lecturer chooses to use it. If we can sift through the essential information and digital skills that students should possess and for this to be more widely available and accessible, this and building digital experiences through the curriculum – we can hopefully ensure that we are equipping our students with the necessary skills set to engage in the wider digital environment.
Our current student ‘digital’ support can be steered collectively to reach out to all our students informed by both student and staff experiences as notably found when I completed the ‘Teaching Systems Review’ project, students valued the technologies we have invested in and have aired where some improvements can be made – by listening and acting we can make a difference and steps are being made towards this.
JISC highlighted a ‘Benchmarking tool – the student digital experience – which could be used to evaluate current practices in this area to plan any work that may be needed, it would be good to evaluate!
The HEA Arts & Humanities conference took place last month in sunny Brighton: there were quite a few interesting ELT-related sessions at the conference which are outlined below plus links to further information.
Jonathan Worth, Newcastle University Open Lab: Synthesising approaches to openness
Excellent keynote by Jonathan Worth from Newcastle University Open Lab: he talked about not just ‘Teaching with‘ the digital, but ‘teaching of the digital.’ Jonathan discussed his #Phonar global photography classes, Phonar Nation, an international initiative enabling young people to take part in their own representation as well as much, much more: hugely inspiring and thought-provoking. You can read more about his work on using the affordances of social media in teaching here.
Christopher Wiley, University of Surrey: How to use electronic voting systems creatively in arts & humanities teaching
Using electronic voting systems in the context of Dance, Drama and Music to enhance critical engagement. 1.2 abstract here – his presentation isn’t available but you can read more about Christopher’s work, including his role as a Turning Technologies Distinguished Educator here.
Christopher Hall, Sheffield Hallam University: Infographics as module guides (Poster Presentation)
Using infographics to capture an entire module guide on one page – used as a front page in Blackboard and as hard copy. You can read the poster presentation abstract here.
Sarah Crowson & Simon Denison, Hereford College of Arts: How to build a less formal online learning space
Students felt more ownership of the informal online learning space created in WordPress, and engaged more with this space compared to the the official VLE. 12.7 abstract here and you can read in more detail about Sarah and Simon’s action research project here.
Mr Luke Attwood leads three modules (ranging levels 5 – 7) in the school of Computer Science and Informatics at DMU. The modules are; Object Oriented Software Design & Development, Object Oriented Programming, and E-Commerce Software.
Each component requires that students submit their software solutions in source code form and Luke uses the Assignment submission tool in DMU’s VLE (Blackboard) with an associated electronic rubric for marking and providing text based feedback.
None of the components are usually marked anonymously, although it is feasible to do this when circumstances require by hiding student identification data.
The rubrics are consistent in that they all involve a set of criteria against which there is a 5 tier scale that Luke has adopted to represent the levels of achievement (0 – 100) with a percentage and description attached; e.g. Significant room for improvement (40%).
Before rolling out the rubrics Luke tested them with colleagues second marking to ensure the rubrics would produce a consistent and accurate result. Luke constantly updates and tests the rubrics to further refine the wording of the criteria but over the last two years minimal changes have been required and the rubrics are performing well by way of consistency and the distribution of marks.
At first, colleagues were sceptical with regard to the rubrics providing enough variation of marks. Although each criteria only has a 5 tier scale (e.g. 0, 40, 60, 80, 100); as there are several different criteria Luke finds that the rubrics still return a granular spread of marks across the cohort. Luke did experiment with fewer criteria (and fewer levels of achievement) but this did result in bunching of marks and too many criteria (or levels of achievement) became unmanageable – Luke would advise a minimum of 3 criteria but 4 or more is better and is appropriate to the nature of the submissions on the modules he teaches. This, in combination with the 5 tier scale has consistently worked well.
When marking, Luke will enable the ‘Show Feedback’ view in Blackboard to enable personalised text feedback to be included alongside any pre-determined feedback that Luke may have pre-prepared as the rubric was produced. Not all of Luke’s rubrics include pre-filled feedback but if he finds that similar comments are being made on a frequent basis Luke will make a note of these for pasting into the relevant feedback section later. Having the Show Feedback view enabled also allows Luke to override the overall grade if necessary and he will always provide a text based comment with a brief explanation regarding any overridden grades.
Luke is confident that using rubrics to mark students work enables him to provide provisional grades and personalised text feedback in a timely manner. Whilst Luke’s students are yet to specifically provide feedback on his use of rubrics there has been no negative feedback from the students.
Luke finds that there are multiple benefits to using rubrics in this way. Rubrics provide the ability to easily mark and write comments in a single location that are then immediately available for students to view rather than having to upload a separate mark sheet, which for a lot of students in itself can be time consuming. The rubric grid also does all of the calculations automatically for Luke so he does not need to worry about this or even have the totals moderated. Furthermore, it provides an elegant way of placing comments directly next to where they are applicable.
Thank you to Luke Attwood for enabling this post to be created. If you wish to explore the use of rubrics in Blackboard further please contact your local ELT Project Officer.
Dr Simon Coupland, School of Computer Science and Informatics, Faculty of Technology started teaching a first year undergraduate C++ programming module in 2014/15. Another first for the module in 2014/15 was that Mathematics students were enrolled for the first time – some of whom may never have engaged with coding before.
The C++ module is an introduction to programming and this module underpins the complex threshold concepts that students are required to understand as they progress into areas such as Games Programming. Therefore it is critical that students are offered various ways to construct knowledge in line with their preferred learning style(s) on this module as it does form part of the foundation of multiple undergraduate programmes.
Historically, students on the C++ module were tasked with producing a piece of code each week as part of their lab sessions and the previous member of teaching staff would mark each piece of code individually between sessions.
However, knowing that the cohort could be quite varied this year, Simon sought to provide alternative methods of assessing the lab work that would involve the students collaborating and learning from each other.
Following conversations with the ELT Project Officer, Simon identified that a peer marking model for the student’s lab work would help the students to learn collaboratively, foster relationships in their first year and alleviate Simon’s marking workload as the module attracts a large (100+) student cohort.
Following a session that focused on the use of TurnItIn’s PeerMark solution, Simon set up the following scenario:
- Each week the students will create and submit a piece of C++ code using a TurnItIn PeerMark link during the lab;
- The following week the students will create a second piece of code and peer mark a colleague’s code; and
- In the third week, further code is submitted and the previous week’s is peer marked but the peer marked submissions from week one are released in order for students to see each other’s comments on their work.
This is then a rolling plan with a new piece of code being generated each week for review and release over the three week cycle.
Following the first week’s lab session, all students created their C++ code and submitted it via the TurnItIn link in Blackboard. The following week, the majority of students’ seemed to engage with the peer marking aspect and offered feedback to a colleague via the TurnItIn PeerMark function.
However, after this initial flurry of interest, although all students’ continued to submit their weekly piece, very few students re-engaged with peer marking and this trend continued for approximately six weeks until Simon removed the peer marking element and reverted to the traditional model as despite encouragement the students’ were no longer peer marking each other’s work.
As this is the first year that Simon has taught the C++ first year module there is no benchmark for Simon regarding the demographic of the 2014/15 student cohort but Simon feels as though the following factors may have played a role in the students not continuing with the peer marking aspect of the module
- Confidence – this is a first year undergraduate module and Simon believes that although the initial novelty of marking each other’s work was appealing, the ongoing peer marking set up may have been daunting for the students who are both confident and not so confident with the subject.
Simon did, in a later lab session, encourage the students to buddy up and talk to each other during informal peer to peer sessions away from the lab but students who tried to engage in this activity found that their contemporaries would let them down by not honouring appointments and this physical buddying/mentoring approach has also ceased now.
- The nature of the cohort – as recorded, this is the first year that Simon has taught the year one C++ module and Simon feels as though the 2014/15 cohort may not have transitioned into HE quite as well as may be required to understand and handle the value and responsibility of a peer marking approach to lab work. However, having not engaged with previous year’s cohorts in this way Simon has no benchmark to help identify whether this cohort is typical or atypical of a first year C++ cohort.
Also, 2014/15 saw the first Mathematics student enrolments on the first year C++ module. Traditionally, only students who would have engaged with coding prior to coming to University and who are heading toward a career path that involves coding would be enrolled on this module but this year, students studying Mathematics were enrolled and they may not have had any experience of writing code prior to week one of the module. This widens the gap between those in the cohort who are already confident with coding and those who are not and it is surmised that with a less spikey profile of coding skills across the cohort, the assumed issues relating to confidence driving an unwillingness to engage in peer marking would be reduced.
- The technology – whilst the technology supported Simon’s approach on the whole Simon would have liked to have seen an automated approach to identifying who had engaged with the peer marking activity on a weekly basis. With this extra functionality, Simon would then have introduced a scenario whereby students who failed to peer mark in any given week would not be eligible to receive colleague’s feedback the following week or until they re-engaged with peer marking. This may have motivated more students to peer mark if their engagement with colleagues in the previous week could be linked to their work being peer marked the following week but this is an assumption and there is no functionality in TurnItIn to support this scenario.
The experiences documented here are valuable for anyone considering a peer marking approach – the key lessons learned can be summarised as:
- Ensure that students are fully bought into and understand the value of the peer marking approach ahead of embarking on this journey;
- Get to know the cohort of students and critically evaluate whether they are at a stage where they will not let each other down (virtually or physically);
- Look for ways to motivate students to peer mark. For example, should the student marking be linked to their assessment this would motivate them to continue to peer mark their colleague’s work; and
- Do not assume that all students will always want to engage in this type of peer assessment and collaboration.
Other colleagues in the Faculty of Technology are also trialling alternative peer marking models in 2014/15 and it will be interesting to see how successful or otherwise colleagues have been in engaging students in this type of activity and whether Simon’s experience is typical or not.
ELT Project Officer
Dr James Russell, Principal Lecturer, Film Studies; currently teaches two modules at first year and third year undergraduate level.
James has approximately eighty students enrolled across the two modules and in the 2014/15 academic year James looked to innovate his assessment technique by engaging with one of the electronic assessment tools that DMU subscribes to.
Students studying in both years are required to submit a final essay of around 1500 words and traditionally James would print these and mark by hand. However, James felt that he had perfected his technique to the point where he could not mark any faster and he was also finding that students were not always forthcoming in picking their feedback up in hard copy.
Therefore James sought to identify a different approach to marking that might be more efficient and also make feedback more readily available to the students.
Given that the students submit their essay via the TurnItIn system, James concluded this would be a good place to start and explored the use of GradeMark for marking electronically whilst online.
James quickly identified that he would be able to create a subset of QuickMarks that are relevant to the subject and he marked the latest cohort’s submissions using a combination of QuickMarks and the free form text feedback function that is available in GradeMark.
During this initial year, James also insisted that his students hand in to provide a contingency position and conversations were had with the internal second marker and the external moderator who in turn have found the use of GradeMark to be quick and easy.
In conversation with James, it is clear that the trial use of GradeMark in 2014/15 has been a success. James is also the Subject Group Leader for Media, Film and Journalism and at a recent Programme Management Board meeting James was almost evangelistic in front of colleagues about electronic online marking – hence this blog post.
The benefits of marking online are linked to the students being able to pick their feedback up immediately once James releases this and James also feels that marking online is faster and more efficient than marking in a traditional paper based manner. GradeMark also works well with the second marker being able to see James’ comments on screen and the external moderator has been positive about the format of the downloaded submissions that are sent for moderation.
James will be continuing to mark in this way and next year he is planning to rely solely on the electronic approach. He is also encouraging colleagues to engage, where appropriate, with this scalable electronic marking technique.
Thank you to Dr James Russell for agreeing to have this practice documented and disseminated.
ELT Project Officer