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Here my colleague Anne Quinney reflects on the recent webinar we ran…

During the Covid-19 pandemic many of you will have experienced academic conferences being cancelled, postponed or hosted on-line.

Prof Debbie Holley and I (Anne Quinney) were scheduled to present at the Association of Learning Developers in Higher Education conference (ALDinHE) to be held at Northampton University but found ourselves presenting remotely last week.

The conference had moved online, using Google Hangouts. We had to change the focus of the paper for the online environment as the workshop format would not be possible. Our online conference presentation proved very memorable – in unexpected ways.  Our first challenge was the unfamiliarity of the format. We participated in some other sessions to get a sense of what it might look and feel like, updated our material and worked out how we would approach this new experience.  We uploaded the slides to slideshare, so we could share more widely with the audience, and shared them with session Chair –  a good idea as unexpected technology glitches happen to all of us working online and this created another layer of ‘back-up’.

Assessment and Feedback is our favourite topic! We talked about the principles of assessment underpinning the revision of the Bournemouth University Assessment Design strategy and policy, drawing on the work of Professors Dai Hounsell (ongoing) and Kay Sambell (2011) for enhancing assessment and feedback practices. We used slides interwoven with questions to encourage participant chat. We shared the BU Assessment and Feedback Toolkit; talked about the options for moving assessments online with a specific focus on examinations. We discussed the student perspective, and the opportunities and challenges online assessment can raise.

The chat questions came thick and fast, and the Chair was really helpful in summarising.

We did have some technology glitches;  at the start my camera switched off and I couldn’t configure the screen to see both the slides and my co-presenter. I quickly turned the computer off and started again….still only the slides in view but the camera light was back on!  Quickly improvising we decided that as Debbie’s screen was working as expected we would manage with whatever screen view we each had! We carried on, with self-deprecating humour, commenting that this was a real-life, live and improvised experience of the unfamiliar challenges that so many of us, staff and students, are dealing with. 

It felt strange not to talk with participants informally afterwards, not to  be able to ‘read’ the audience from their body language and facial expressions. Questions and responses came in very fast in the chat box and it was not possible to give time to them all.  At the end of the screen time, it was helpful to facetime each other to reflect on the experience, as we would have done if we were physically at the conference.

Whilst we didn’t have to travel upcountry to Northampton, sleep in an unfamiliar bed and eat communal meals at pre-set times, we missed the camaraderie of informally meeting with other delegates, the stimulation of two days focussing only on the conference themes and the opportunity to visit another university. The learning with and from one another that comes from the shared experience of co-presenting was still possible, and we certainly learnt more about improvising with the technology and equipment, about adjusting to a live but distant audience, and to ‘keep going and keep smiling’.

Quinney A and Holley D. 2020. Moving assessment online; resources to support staff in an unexpected distance learning scenario. May 6th. ALDinHE.

Links to our session:

Slides are here:

Video is here:

http://aldinhe.ac.uk/aldinhe-events-resources/

Resources:

Sally Brown’s blog (UK). See the piece by Sally Brown and Kay Sambell as a response to Covid-19.

https://sally-brown.net

BU Technology Enhanced Learning Toolkit

https://www.cemp.ac.uk/projects/AFT/index.php

Transforming Assessment (Australia)

https://transformingassessment.com

Assessment Design Decisions (Australia)

www.assessmentdecisions.org


and this weeks finale – we launched our assessment and feedback toolkit at the ALDinHE conference 2019. Here is the link to the webpage and last years presentations Direct link to the Assessment and Feedback toolkit

Informed by the conclusion of Ball et al (2012 p8) that assessment practice in most universities has not kept pace with other far-reaching changes in HE and that “a radical rethink of assessment practices and regulations” and a “holistic and proactive approach” is required, the Centre for Excellence in Learning at BU (now FLIE) implemented an evidence-based vision involving radical change to institution-wide assessment policy. By using a collaborative and partnership approach the development of key resources in the form of an Assessment & Feedback Toolkit was made possible. The principles-based and evidence-based strategy focused on a rebalancing of summative and formative assessment tasks; a broader menu of assessment types; and the promotion of technology-enhanced learning strategies facilitated by a new VLE. The CEL team drew on leadership strategies set out in Quinney et al (2017) and invited large-scale engagement through Faculty Fiestas and external events (Quinney et al 2018) to critically inform the process.

Building on the success of the TEL Toolkit (Biggins et al 2017) an online Assessment & Feedback Toolkit was developed to support the changes. We will share critical reflections on our approach to enable others to undertake a similar institution-wide approach to bring about clear benefits for staff and students. The Toolkit includes resources for formative assessment activities; assessment literacy strategies and has help, guidance and suggestions for planning assessments.

The development team:
Professor Debbie Holley, (former head of CEL) Anne Quinney (assessment and Feedback Theme leader (pictured); Learning Technologist Vince Clark, sincere thanks to BU Visiting Professor Dai Hounsell for his advice and guidance.


Students have not had an easy year, with recruitment fears as they joined our Universities over the impact of Brexit; staff taking industrial action on an unprecedented level, and now Universities closing down, changing study patterns as the Covid-19 virus sweeps through. Responsible educators now need to plan ahead, ensuring that our students have robust, transparent and equitable assessment processes that enable successful progression and exit qualifications. 

Corona Virus as being modelled in one of our lectures

The challenge is:

How can our rapidly approaching assessments be fair and equitable to all, yet maintaining the quality of our degrees, and meeting the standards demanded by professional bodies and future employers?

Those of us advocating strongly for the ‘digital approach’, will already have the  skills to move learning online, to embrace and encompass digital making, align our courses with online digital pedagogies and can work with our learners to motivate and even inspire those we lead through their brave new learning journeys.  Institutions need to start realising the huge potential of our Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), and move from transmissive ways of working – the VLE as repository, to the VLE of inspirational and critical pedagogy. read more in my article in WONKHE today…


Informed by the conclusion of Ball et al (2012 p8) that assessment practice in most universities has not kept pace with other far-reaching changes in HE and that “a radical rethink of assessment practices and regulations” and a “holistic and proactive approach” is required, the Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL) at Bournemouth University bravely took up this large-scale challenge. Presenting at the Southampton Solent Community Teaching Conference last year, we thank the participants in our workshop for their insights.

Implementing this vision involved addressing both global and local dimensions of assessment in higher education (Hounsell & Zou 2017). The approach combined radical change to institution-wide assessment policy based on assessment for learning principles (Sambell 2011), and emphased partnership and collaboration in the developing the Toolkit as an Open Educational Resource. The principles-based and evidence-based strategy focused on rebalancing summative and formative assessment tasks; a broader menu of assessment types; and promoting technology-enhanced learning strategies facilitated by a new VLE.  The team drew on tested leadership strategies  (Quinney et al 2017) and invited large-scale engagement through internal and external events to critically inform the process, supported by the expertise of Dai Hounsell, Visiting Professor.   We shared critical reflections on our approach and discuss considerations for toolkit design and construction.

l-r Dr Curie Scott, Prof Dai Hounsell, Anne Quinney, Prof Debbie Holley

Ball et al 2012. A marked improvement: transforming assessment in higher education. York: HEA

Hounsell D and Zou T. 2017. Surfacing and sharing advances in assessment: a communities of practice approach. In: Carless C, Bridges SM, Chan CKY and Glofcheski R (eds) Scaling up assessment for learning in higher education. Singapore: Springer . pp33-48

Quinney A, Lamont C, Biggins D and Holley D. 2017. Optimising disruptive approaches: extending academic roles and identities in higher education. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education Issue 10

Sambell K. 2011.Rethinking feedback in higher education: an assessment for learning perspective. Escalate. University of Bristol.

Above: The BU team at Solent: Dr Curie Scott,Prof Dai Hounsell, Anne Quinney and Professor Debbie Holley


thanks to Dr David Biggins, former TEL theme leader for the original post

As part of internal peer review, Bournemouth University looked at assessment and feedback practices across the University. The work, presented at the ALDinHE conference, looked at the responses to the Iinnovate initiative to demonstrate how staff are innovating in assessment and feedback.  Extracting relevant data from the innovate programme, the presentation highlighted practical steps that staff can consider for adoption.

These are the key slides where online tools, group practices and understanding assessment are key to engaging students with the processes

https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/cel/ 8
Assessment
Impact Innovation
8 Work-based learning. “Making the assignment mor...
https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/cel/ 9
Feedback
Impact Innovation
8 Padlet. “This worked well in teamwork collaborati...


https://www.slideshare.net/DavidBiggins3/promoting-academic-staff-innovation-at-bournemouth-university