The objectives of the project were:
• to provide timely and meaningful electronic feedback to the students submitting work electronically,
• to be sensitive to the academic staff’s feelings about introducing technology and change into their working lives whilst ensuring that the student experience was enhanced,
• to ensure that the quality of feedback and assessment was not compromised, and
• to make sure that any staff development needs were addressed so that staff feel confident and empowered when using the technology.
The approach taken was one that built on the existing methods of assessment and moderation and introduced technologies to replicate this for distance learners.
The existing process involved the tutor hand-writing comments on paper assignments, passing this to a colleague to moderate and make further comments and the tutor and moderator talking face to face if needed to resolve any conflicts.
The paper would then be handed back to the student with the comments so that the student could see how the feedback was arrived at.
The key elements of the existing process that needed to remain were:
• the hand-written aspect;
• the ability to talk face to face; and
• the student being able to see how the feedback was generated as this ensures the feedback links directly to their work and makes sure that the feedback is meaningful.
Technology was identified that would allow tutors and moderators to ‘write’ on the submitted work – this was a graphics tablet, used in conjunction with Adobe Acrobat pro’. Software that would facilitate the communication between tutor and moderator was sought – Skype was identified as being appropriate software.