Mobile assessment: MCQs on Android

Mobile learning and mobile assessment are recurring topics of interest, and with the huge popularity of smart phones capable of highly sophisticated technical innovations they’re increasingly viable.  Both the Google App Inventor and Apple’s iOS Dev Center enable non-experts to create applications for these platforms, enabling the delivery of highly focused activities that can nevertheless be easily shared and adapted for different circumstances.

One example of this can be seen in Liam Green-Hughes RefSignals Android app which assesses users’ knowledge of the meaning of various signals and gestures used by ice hockey referees to indicate penalties.  It’s a fully-formed MCQ test: introductory rubric, a series of questions with feedback on incorrect answers and score keeping, and a final score display.  And, as he says, all produced without writing a line of code.

The source code for the app is available from the link above, allowing the test system to be adapted to any subject or purpose, although given the philosophy of simplicity Google designed into their app inventor teachers – and learners – can easily create a similar tool themselves should they wish.  And being Android, there are no app store oddities to present a barrier to sharing and exchange of such simple but potentially invaluable developments :)

Many thanks to my (iPhone using) colleague John Robertson for the tip.

Under development: Peer Evaluation in Education Review (PEER)

The Peer Evaluation in Education Review (PEER) project based here at the University of Strathclyde is one of five projects funded in the JISC Learning and Teaching Innovation Grants programme round 5.  Running from 1 June 2010 to 30 June 2011, the project explores a range of issues around the implementation and delivery of peer assessment within higher education.

PEER is led by David Nicol and Catherine Milligan, building on the highly influential Re-engineering Assessment Practices in Higher Education (REAP) project.  The interplay between the two projects is clear from the extensive information available through the umbrella site that links the two, offering a wealth of information and resources around assessment, peer assessment and feedback.  The website is constantly under development, so is well worth regular revisiting to see the latest developments.

The project’s first phase involves the development of a framework for peer review and a detailed evaluation of existing peer review software.  A range of tools was evaluated in relation to a list of desirable features, and outcomes from this exercise are being added to the website for future reference.  Stage two involves a series of small scale pilots in a range of subject areas and institutions: the project team are also very interested in hearing from others piloting peer review software for potential inclusion within this research activity.  The final phase will see the development of a number of resources including guidelines on implementing peer review within a course of study and a literature review.

Unlike some LTIG projects, technical development activities are limited to those necessary to integrate those systems chosen for the pilot phase with the institutional LMS, Moodle.  Both the PeerMark functionality within Turnitin, and Aropa, developed by the University of Auckland, New Zealand, will be tested during the pilots.

LTIG Round 6 call for funding now out (edited 21/2/11)

The JISC Learning and Teaching Innovation Grants programme funds a small number of projects each year to explore and support innovative approaches to teaching and learning.  These projects cover a vast range of subject areas, technologies and activities, from poetry to chemistry, LaTeX to Twitter, QR codes to the Wii, virtual worlds to augmented reality.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about a number of these projects, the innovative activities they’ve undertaken and the very wide range of technologies in use within this programme.

JISC have just released a call for the latest round of funding available within this programme.  The application process is designed to encourage speculative and innovative ideas, the first stage consisting of submission of an outline proposal rather than the traditional full bid.

The deadline for submission of proposals for the current call is noon on Monday 21 March 2011.  There’s also a briefing event being held at 2pm on Tuesday 22 February in Elluminate which potential applicants are strongly encouraged to attend.

Best of luck to all applicants!

Edit (21 Feb 11): Martin Hawksey offers some excellent tips on bidding through his JISC RSE Scotland North & East blog.

Assessment and Feedback event review

Last week saw a large audience of education professionals head to the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow to attend an event on Assessment and Feedback jointly hosted by JISC CETIS and the Making Assessment Count project led by the University of Westminster.  Over the course of a lively and fascinating day we saw a range of presentations on different issues around assessment and feedback, heard from a panel of wonderfully eloquent and enthusiastic students about their own experiences, and had the opportunity to discuss this vital area with a broad range of practitioners and experts.

The day opened with an introduction to some of the principals of effective assessment and feedback led by Mark Clements of the MAC project.  Delegates were asked to consider their own priorities and opinions, which led to a very enjoyable discussion around the topic.

The first full session of the day looked at eFeedback, eMarking and automated feedback.  Phil Denton of Liverpool John Moores University discussed Assignment Handler and Gradetime, a tool which allows automated but highly customisable feedback to be added to documents.  In the second presentation of this session, John Kleeman of Questionmark discussed some of the outcomes of recent US research on assessment and feedback, which sparked a lively discussion with the audience.

Session 2 looked at alternative forms of feedback, with Peter Hartley of the University of Bradford discussing a range of approaches to providing feedback and rediscovering the ‘feedback loop’.  I-Chant Chiang of Aberystwyth University then discussed audio feedback in greater detail, examining three projects that used various approaches around this method and her own experience of this in her teaching practice.  Two of I-Chant’s students attended the event and were able to add their own, very positive, insights into this method.

Session 3 was something new for us, but a session that our attendees (and I) particularly enjoyed: a panel of students discussing their own experiences of and opinions on assessment and feedback.  The students, Sophia Cullen, Koval Smith and Tom Edge from the University of Westminster, Saffron Passam and Melissa Croxon from Aberystwyth University and Graeme Allan from the University of Strathclyde and Vice-President for Education and Representation at the University of Strathclyde’s Student Association, spoke about a range of topics, reflecting on their experiences of traditional and more innovative assessment practices and their impact on their academic performance.  They also took part in a very lively and stimulating question and answer session that really explored the issues raised.

The final session of the day looked at ways of effecting change in assessment and feedback.  Sarah Davies of JISC had kindly agreed to join the event via Connect, but unfortunately technology (ironically) let us down; she did however make her slides available to the meeting.  The meeting closed with Mark Kerrigan-Holt’s detailed look at the Making Assessment Count project and the e-Reflect tool it developed, again very usefully complemented with insights from Westminster students who have successfully used the system and found it highly beneficial.

Overall, it was a really interesting and enjoyable event, and I have to thank Mark Clements and the team at Westminster for all their work in making this such a great day.  Presentations from the day, together with links to blog post mentions and tweets from the day are all available on our site.

ALT-J renames and goes open access

ALT have announced that, from January 2012, Research in Learning Technology (formerly ALT-J), will be going open access, a move that should significantly increase its readership and availability to an international audience.  Although back issues over eighteen months old are already freely available through the ALT repository, providing unrestricted access to the most up-to-date issues won’t just benefit non-member scholars but also the visibility and online presence of ALT itself.

(Spotted via Grainne Conole)