“Assessment is central to learning and teaching. What is assessed defines what is taught and how it is learnt. The process of assessment, in turn, shapes institutional practice and affects a learner’s view of the value of engaging in learning.”
Assessment is an important check on learning - have learners understood and can they apply what they have learnt? The traditional view of assessment is rows of students sat in a sports hall completing paper based questions within a given space of time.
But most traditional methods require not just time from the learner to complete, but also from the assessor to mark the work. Many have experienced an ever growing pile of paper assignments to work through, following the relevant marking criteria and providing every student with formative feedback in order for them to improve next time round (all hand written in red ink). It also takes time, in terms of all the additional 'paperwork' required to record the subsequent details following the setting of an assignment eg tracking sheets.
Technology has provided the ability to transform the delivery of assessment from electronic submission through to video and audio feedback and online marking. Advantages include:
- Instant feedback
- Easy individual and group feedback
- Statement banks – minimise effort
- Monitor group process as well as outcomes – eg wikis
- Assessment software – timed release
- Online gradebooks – easy tracking
- Assignments can be confidential or easily shared – peer review
- Easy distribution to markers
- Less time marking
- Increased opportunities for practice and feedback- eg rich media
- Anytime, anywhere
Mobile technology has extended these possibilities with tools to provide quizzes, polls, annotation on screen, submission facilities and methods for students to evidence their learning. and for staff to provide media rich feedback.
The following are examples of how mobile technology aids the assessment process:
Perth College UHI - hairdressing app
Perth College University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) used a tailored app for hairdressing students, created by the college learning technologies centre. This app (android) replaced a paper based process for a fairly complex hair colouring task, which required a great deal of interaction with the practitioner to advise and give feedback.
The app automated this process and gave the students, prompts, advice, and feedback as they progressed through the task. It also pointed out where they went wrong, if mistakes were made.
Anglia Ruskin University - MyKnowledgeMap
MyKnowledgeMap is a commercial app for the electronic completion and assessment of student professional development portfolios (ePDP) via a mobile tablet.
The system, compared to the traditional paper-based alternatives, greatly enhances tutors' ability to monitor student progress while on placement, and on individual and group bases. This enhanced monitoring capability allows the rapid identification of students at risk of failure and facilitates early intervention.
Pembrokeshire College - mCommunity mobile app
Pembrokeshire College uses mCommunity mobile app which provides instant messaging, electronic individual learning plan (eILP) and Moodle-based learning. The app is part of a European funded project developed by TSSG in Ireland.
Now part of an extension programme called mTransition (funded through Leornardo knowledge transfer), the app provides pastoral and academic support through the learner's phone or tablet device. It is open-source and free.
The app is currently used in various contexts across Europe - supporting vocational education and training (VET) learners, EuropeMobility learners, 'at risk' vocational learners in the UK, not in education employment of training (NEETS) and SME's. It helps to:
- Address language and confidence barriers
- Develop and maintain student engagement
- Develop self-management skills
- Take learning outside the classroom
- Maintain continuity and communication, non-formal learning
- Focus learners on their personal development and improve their knowledge and skills.
TEAM Wearside - e-portfolio and Google Docs
TEAM Wearside uses Learning Assistant as an e-portfolio with Google Docs. The organisation has also invested heavily in purchasing android tablets to be used with assessors - the portability of the device enables learners to log on whilst at work and home to submit evidence.
The Learning Assistant app can be used both online and offline which allows flexibility for both learner and assessor. The Google Doc app enables assessors to use the tablet like a laptop and upload or send content to their work email.
TEAM Wearside is also looking at other apps that complement Learning Assistant in the long term.
Newcastle University - recording student presentations
Newcastle University staff use the Panopto recorder with an iPhone and an external microphone to record student presentations in third year undergraduate politics seminars. They then annotate the recordings from a desktop PC using the notes function to provide formative feedback to the student concerned. Students then access the recordings and feedback via the VLE (Blackboard).
Dr Nick Randall says:
“The formative feedback provided to students using these technologies has a number of advantages.
Traditionally, if I wanted to provide feedback to students on presentations, I would have provided written feedback, typically via a pro-forma, or verbal feedback during or after a class. Each has significant drawbacks. Written feedback is either hastily scribbled down during the presentation or written after the class is finished when the details of the presentation have begun to fade. Either option is detrimental to the quality of the feedback that I can present.
Verbal feedback to the student immediately after the presentation is another option, but given that such feedback is inevitably presented in front of the entire class there are again constraints on the feedback that can be presented. Verbal feedback directly after the class is not always possible and subject to the same difficulty of the details fading.
Using Panopto allows me to address these difficulties. I have a recording, which I can replay at a time of my choosing and I am able to give frank and constructive feedback directly to the student. The system has a number of other advantages. The student can review the feedback on repeated occasions. The feedback directly matches the timeline of the video such that comments are directly related to the relevant part of the presentation, another significant advantage over other methods.
Given that a video recording is the basis of the feedback allows a richer range of feedback to be presented. So, for example, distracting gestures or a failure to look up and engage the audience can be drawn to the student's attention.”
Lewisham and Southwark College - supporting the assessment process
The college use a range of apps to support the assessment process. The benefits they have seen are as follows:
- Enables teachers to engage and assess their students through the use of real time questioning on tablets, laptops and smartphones
- Feedback is immediate as student results populate the teachers screen as they submit answers giving in the moment understanding of how a lesson is going
- Teachers can create a bank of questions (in advance) to see if lesson objectives have been reached
- Saves teachers time so the class can further collaborate, discuss, extend and grow as a community of learners
- Variety of report types are available: whole class overview, student specific results or question by question breakdown. These can be viewed online, downloaded, emailed or delivered to Google Drive and used to inform and plan future sessions
- Socrative is available for all web-browsers, and as an app for various mobile devices, making it accessible for a variety of settings.
- Recording dance and drama performances allows for immediate review and feedback
- It is used for reflection by students which is then uploaded to YouTube/blog
- iMovie is a very versatile app which is also used for content creation, presentation and building evidence.
QuickClass (used to link to Google Classroom)
- Teachers can create and collect assignments, monitor work completion and provide direct, real-time feedback and grades
- Students can keep track of what’s due on the assignments page
- Teachers can make use of time-saving features ie automatically make a copy of a Google Doc for each student
- It also creates Google Drive folders for each assignment and for each student to help keep everyone organised
- All class materials are automatically filed into folders in Google Drive.
Hull College - helping construction students revise
Mike Abel, curriculum leader, uses Appgeyser, to support his construction students. He says:
“It has helped me create a revision app for my construction students (no programming skills needed) where they can revise any place, any time and on the go and no need for wifi once it is downloaded to their phone. I created images on Google SketchUp to add a more visual aspect and I made the terminology of the questions more like they will get asked in the real unit end test.
I have uploaded the app to the college Moodle system so the students can scan the QR code for the app. They then can install it to their android devices. The good thing about the app is the student can assess their own performance and by interactive learning can progress.”
University of Glasgow - Socrative
The university uses Socrative with international students on an in-sessional course to support the development of academic study skills.
They have also used it to formatively assess the students’ knowledge at a given point during the class, as well as gather feedback at the end of it. For example, students anonymously answered open-ended questions about main learning points such as referencing conventions. This helped them reinforce their learning and allowed the tutor to check their understanding and offer remedial explanation in case of inaccuracies in their answers.
At the end of the class, students are often asked to use Socrative to share questions about aspects of the content covered. The tutor later responds using the VLE or in the following class.
“Using the app this way empowers the student to reflect on their learning as it gives them an opportunity to articulate their understanding of the learning gains as well as questions about points they are not clear about. In face-to-face whole class discussion shier and less confident voices may remain unarticulated and/or unheard.
By collating all the responses into a spreadsheet, the app effectively and conveniently provides me with a good picture of what the students have taken up from the activities done in class and whether I need to follow up with any additional explanation. It lets me reflect on the effectiveness of my teaching too and address any misunderstanding right there and then or later using the virtual learning environment.”
Anna Rolinska, English for academic purposes (EAP) tutor