Monday, 29 September 2008

the improvement of student assessment

Recommendations for the improvement of student assessment. QAA - IQER update.

QAA publish their latest reccomendations concerning the improvement of assessment for HE delivery in FE Colleges. This is a result of a series of pilots.

  • improve and make available appropriate, accurate and complete programme and assessment information to current and potential students, for example in programme handbooks or on the college website
  • ensure that information about assessment is appropriate to student needs, and that there is consistency and rigour in the mechanisms for the approval of information
  • ensure that all students receive sufficient, high quality and timely feedback on assessed work in order to improve their performance and facilitate their progression
  • increase opportunities for staff to gain benefit from professional development and scholarly activity in assessment
  • ensure that appropriate monitoring and annual review arrangements are in place to secure consistent application of assessment policies and procedures
  • promote and extend the awareness of the Academic Infrastructure and ensure that it is used appropriately as an external reference point, particularly Sections 4 and 6 relating to external examining and assessment."
Read the full report on line :

No mention of using/ pushing Computer Aided Assessment methods to improve the personalisation, differentiation, efficacy, and engagament of assessment then? The Government's 2003 White Paper 'The Future of Higher Education' highlighted the need for 'more flexibility in courses, to meet the needs of a more diverse student body'.... Read more on the HEFCE website >>

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Active [e]learning?

A few weeks ago I was asked to present at a local FE College staff development day. The title was "Active elearning".
As I broadly researched theis topic of "active learning" it became quite evident that most of the underlying pedagogy involved in the plethora of (games'ish based) tasks involved active collaboration with peers. My presentation is now up on, for you to download. Within the prestentation I also discussed the use of Moodle and Wikis to promote active collaboration online. There are a number of links within the presentation regarding effective practice and worked exemplars.

I also located this excellent little website (URL below) full of short videos explaning how lecturers are transforming their previously didactic pedagogy towards a more student centred (and collaborative) approach using the techniques they had learned. Geoff Petty ( a renowned consultant) and other experienced trainers provide the underpinnnig theory and clarifies the active aspect of learning which helps students to embed principles and relate these experiences to new situations.

Access them here :

Active learning means:

  • involving learners
  • enabling them to learn important skills
  • allowing them to apply new knowledge

And don't forget that the QIA exellence gateway also has some case studies on effective practice. This site is constanty updated, so please take a while to browse the case studies.

Active Learning
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: elearning web2.0)

Thursday, 18 September 2008

info on E-portfolios

"You may like to know that two new JISC resources on e-portfolios have been launched at ALT-C in Leeds. The first is a new guide in the JISC Effective Practice series, Effective Practice with e-Portfolios, which explores examples of effective practice in the use of e-portfolios throughout a lifetime of learning. The guide complements a new infoKit on e-portfolios from JISC infoNet which offers a comprehensive synopsis of the main drivers, purposes, processes, perspectives and issues around e-portfolio use. The infoKit can be viewed at Alternative formats of the guide are available from

I would also like to inform you of a forthcoming (Jan / Mar 09 ~ ish) series of regional workshops linked to the JISC Effective Practice with e-Portfolios guide and e-Portfolios infoKit. The workshops will provide guidance on e-portfolios from Netskills and explore issues and benefits relating to e-portfolio use with representatives from case study institutions. Please register your interest at, where details of the venues and programme will be available shortly. Early booking is strongly recommended."


I also assisted with this publication, infokit & the workshops. So I'm biased against its obvious level of excellence. And, there are lots of case studies and references to effective practice in our very own West Midlands organisations. Again Julie Hughes and Emma Purnell talk about their excellent work in this area. I also found working with Lisa Gray, Ros Smith, Jacquie Kelly, Emma Purnell, Dr Elizabeth Hartnoll Young, CETIS, CRA, Rob Englebright + more , to be a very worthwhile experience. So as you can see, I was very lucky and honoured to be asked to help steer this publication, with the above experts also in consultation.

Open Source – Mahara

You may be aware of a couple of recent posts covering the announcement of the ULCC official partnership of the ever popular Mahara e-portfolio tool. Earlier than that, I posted about a local company (The Development Manager Ltd. who have helped us out in the past. The owner of that company is a very knowledgeable man called Derrin Kent. He is well into the Open Source software use, and of course it's exploitation to engage and enhance the learning process. Which is why we like Derrin, we both sing from the same hymn sheet – as it were. Anyhoo, I bumped into Derrin @ ALT-C last week who gleefully informed me that he was the second OFFICIAL UK PARNER FOR MAHARA. So this is good news for Derrin and for all potential & existing Mahara users in the UK. We have a very keen, experienced local company to help us set up and use Mahara. Don't forget you can plug Mahara in Moodle, but you can also run Mahara as a standalone web based e-portfolio tool. BTW, Mahara is also up for an award in for excellence in Open Source applications in NZ.

Have a play with Mahara here :

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Web2.0 for active learning

At a recent presentation I was asked to comment upon web 2.0 tools and their usefulness to promote active learning. I've posted before on web 2.0 & mashups and even co-written an article for the Escalate subject centre, but this post is a bit more concise, and should give you some ideas on promoting active learning/ student centred learning.

The tableidea below is adapted from the JISC document entitled Web 2.0 and social software (September 2007)

An introduction:

How to these tools to encourage student centered learning: (use these free guides)

  • Access my presentation on Active Learning with Web 2.0 and Moodle here:

  • Want to see someone actually using all of this stuff? Well, I stumbled across this blog to day. It really is quite something to see a school kid getting to grips with linking and embedding many different web 2.0 tools together. It puts my blog to shame :o( . If you wanted tangible evidence of the digitally aware generation. Look here >>

The Web 2.0 principle:




The web as a platform

Allowing applications to be delivered and used through a web browser.

Online word processing such as Google Docs or , which can edit photos and link to flickr a huge database of shared images. This is a slideshow I made with flickr :

As an alternative to Picnik you could use the new Adobe Express web application to edit images online:

Photoexpress also links to your Flickr account allowing you to open and edit and re-save back your own Flickr account - which can be shared with the world. Don't forget the
flickrCC website that allows you search for images that can be used
copyright free for education, etc.

Another tool is the online mind mapping software , which you can embed in a blog. Or the excellent Zoho creator which allows you to build applications online.

An architecture of participation

Systems that have been designed to

encourage and support users in contributing to them.

Blogs and wikis form the backbone of this group of tools. My old blog + esnips or my new
blog + slideshare or my old blog + my videos on vimeo give you an idea of just how versatile blogging as a platform can be. Reflection, peer review, collaborate, mash up, comment, link to others, etc. Most eportfolios are not far removed from blogs. blogs are available free for UK academics.

some wikis : basic principles of making a wiki work in education, or some recent pointers

Photo sharing such as , which can add geotags to images (together with the new iphone). New mapping tools allow active collaboration also allows you to share your bookmarks.

Data consumption and remixing

Often these are referred to as mash-ups, where content is often sourced from third parties via an API (Application Programming

Interface). Essentially making a new web application from two unrelated web tools.

One of the best I've seen is , others can be found here

One of the new web 2.0 tools to hit the web is Twitter. This mirco-blogging tool is often mashed with other web applications, one of the best examples is :

A rich, interactive, user-friendly interface

Many of the tools, websites and applications are developed with user consultation, leading to developments based on user

needs and wants.

One of the best ideas I've seen recently that covers this is . This concept is explained further here:

Personalisation is key in the use of online media. The iGoogle homepage allows users to create their own look and feel, and access material from a wide range of sources . You can do a similar thing with

that aggregates RSS feeds or . RSS feeds can be combined to push the web to you, here's an example I have created from a feed of my blog, my bookmarks and my wiki all together

Elements of social networking

Whilst not necessarily a requisite, the social elements of these technologies are important in generating the engagement

and user data.

Two new free social networking tools that "we've" used are &, both of these are a bit like Facebook or Myspace, but with less distractions and are also closed communities.

Google groups provide a simple solution, that you can add Google docs and Google sites onto to create a modular platform and network.
I know some people who have experimented with ecto :

A slightly more elaborate (Open Source) solution might make use of is the
platform, which is a social network of blogs.

Brighton University have their own social network :

West Suffolk College have used these tools to create a platform :
& http://newlearning.wor