E-Assessment Scotland 2012
This was the first time I’d attended this conference and I have to admit I had a preconception the conference might be too narrowly focussed to be interesting. Fortunately I was proved wrong and found a great variety of workshops and seminars and lots of thought provoking discussion.
Held at the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee, E-Assessment Scotland 2012 was very well attended and the programme featured dozens of keynotes, workshop and seminars.
I was presenting a seminar myself in the morning, so only managed to attend seminars in the afternoon.
The opening keynote by Professor David Boud of the University of Technology Sydney focussed on feedback given to students. He challenged the way that feedback is used by teachers and presented 3 models of using feedback that showed how feedback was most often used and how it could be used more effectively. This keynote set a tone for the rest of the day and many of the later presenters picked up on Professor Boud’s thought-provoking studies.
I spoke with the Professor afterwards and we discussed some recent teaching and learning topics such as MOOCs, the flipped classroom and technology. I asked what his next area of research might be and thought that while it was good to look for new innovations, sometimes it was good to look at things that are ‘right under our noses’ and take for granted – such as feedback. He reckoned that there was still a lot of research to be done on feedback, so that would be his continuing focus. It was also good to hear from the Professor that he still has pre-conference nerves (something I think most presenters suffer from), and always wonders if sharing his research at a conference will present the audience with something worthwhile, or if it will just be ‘stating the blindingly obvious’! I can reassure him that wasn’t the case and his research definitely had an impact on how I viewed feedback.
I shared a seminar slot with Dr. Keith Smyth, Julia Fotheringham and Karen Strickland, Edinburgh Napier University who presented Structuring Online Assessment to Support Progression in Professional Practice. I confess that I didn’t hear much of their presentation as I was preparing for my own, but their research must have been good as they received one of this year’s E-Assessment Awards.
My own presentation, Investigating MOOCs, examined the fairly recent phenomenon of Massive Open Online Courses. The session was well attended and provoked a lot of questions and conversation about the validity of MOOCs and whether they posed a serious challenge to more traditional education pathways.
During lunch I was invited to speak on EduTalk who were livestreaming from the conference. During the session Sheila MacNeill, Assistant Director of JISC Cetis and I chatted with John Johnston about the conference and about the theme of feedback and its importance to learners. The Edutalk site contains a list of recordings from the conference – tagged eas12.
I had a real ‘face-palm’ moment during Russell Stannard’s afternoon keynote, Changing the Way We Provide Feedback. He was demonstrating his use of screen capture technology to provide feedback on assessments. Although he was using it for written assessments – highlighting problem areas and suggesting solutions, I immediately saw it as a useful tool for analysing photographs. I’ve been using screen capture tools such as www.screenr.com for years, and I had never considered using it in this way with my photography students. This is certainly an area of practice I’ll change in the coming year, however I may not be able to use it extensively as it is always difficult to find a suitable place at work to do recordings without background noise and interruptions. Coincidentally, just as I was having my face-palm moment, my pal Ian Guest tweeted the following:
Part two to follow…