Open course on Assessment in HE

Dog eating paper by -Meryl- on Flickr

This blog may have gone quiet, but there is still quite a lot of work happening with the TRAFFIC project. We have been consolidating our findings into assessment policy and procedures which should improve both experiences of staff and students, getting these procedures through committee processes, and then disseminating information about them with staff development sessions and webinars.

The next stage for the project is evaluation of all of this, and that will be taking place during the first half of 2014.

With a big nudge from @chrissinerantzi, we are also developing an open online course on Assessment in HE and would like to invite potential collaborators and participants to get in touch. The course will follow a similar model to the flexible, open and distance learning course (FDOL) which Chrissi and colleagues have been running for a while.

We have run an accredited module on Assessment in HE for about five years now for MMU staff, who can take this as part of a PGC or MA in Academic Practice, or just for professional development. The next iteration of the module is due to start on 28 April and it was already going to be online. We’d like to open it up more widely and get the benefit of perspectives from elsewhere, as well as sharing the outcomes of the TRAFFIC project.

The module specification document is here. I have taught this version once in face-to-face mode, and it seemed to go ok (evaluation will follow after the assignments are marked).  The only thing I definitely need to change, for those taking the module for accreditation, is  to put more time into explaining the notion of choice around the assignment tasks, which proved problematic. Other than that, I don’t think there will be much difficulty in adapting the content – it is currently very MMU specific, but a stronger shift to experiential or problem-based learning should take care of that.

The structure of the course is simple, as it’s based on the assessment lifecycle model. That should make it easier to set up and manage.

Assessment lifecycle: specifiying, setting, supporting, submitting, marking, recording marks, returning grades, reflecting on feedback

There are a few issues around mixing an accredited module with an open model, of course. So far I’ve thought about:

  1. differing motivations making group work difficult
  2. maintaining motivation, particularly for those seeking credit
  3. access to peer-reviewed journals for level 7 work
  4. preserving quality of experience for those taking the course for credit if teaching resource is spread thin

I’m sure there are many others, but these seem reasonably manageable. I ran my first accredited online course in 1997 (‘An Introduction to Open and Distance Learning’, running off a WebCT 1.6 server sitting under my desk) and we had similar issues then. I think it’s different now, because we have a much bigger and more accessible community interested in talking about these topics, and much better software, which should mitigate some of the difficulties. On the flip side, we have more constraints in connection with managing assessment (quite rightly) which can make us less flexible in responding to participants. Offering flexible enrolments or extensions to distance learning participants in the 1990s was pretty simple, even if the latter mostly just postponed the moment of disaster for over-stretched students.

Let me know if you’re interested in participating in the course.

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One Response to Open course on Assessment in HE

  1. Pingback: QAA Scotland Focus On Assessment and Feedback Workshop | Sharing and learning

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