Towards the end of June I attended and presented at the ‘Heads of eLearning Forum’ – HeLF – ‘Electronic Management of Assessment’ (EMA) SIG Event held at the University of Brighton. It was a fascinating gathering, most attendees being senior ‘Learning Technologists’ and ‘Heads of eLearning’ from universities across the UK.
The sessions included:
- an overview of the HeLF EMA survey results – Barbara Newland (University of Brighton)
- EMA at Nottingham Trent University – Carmen Tomas (NTU)
- Online Assessment Feedback in an Art and Design Environment – John Jackson (UAL)
- EMA Workflows – Carolyne Jacobs (University of Portsmouth)
- Policies, mechanisms and systems – Simon Star (Canterbury University)
- EMA Challenges and Solutions (breakout session)
Several themes were reiterated in the presentations and ensuing discussions:
- there is a clear trend towards online submissions of written assignments.
- online *marking* (as opposed to ‘feedback’) is perceived as problematic amongst academics – particularly where there is a perceived trend towards making this mandatory.
- online marking was viewed as particularly problematic where marking is of longer pieces of work – for example dissertations – and higher volumes of work.
- some universities have invested in extra hardware for their tutors where online marking is being piloted – including large screens, tablet devices etc. – and one attendee mentioned their institution has invested in high volume printers for fast printing and distribution of uploaded assignments for subsequent ‘manual’ marking.
- none of the universities represented had marking / feedback systems which communicated direct with their equivalent of QL
- online *feedback* was seen as much less problematic than online marking – and indeed as desirable and popular – the OAT presentation was also well received, with attendees being interested that it was often used to provide online feedback on physical portfolios / artefacts and performances and that it could be used with a variety of VLEs.