Tel Tales

Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: online assessment

Chromebooks

Mandy Harcup

Have you ever wanted to incorporate some online activity into your session, but don’t have the facility to do so?  Here, in the TEL department we have 30 Chromebooks which are available for morning and afternoon sessions or can be booked for the entire day.

So how do Chromebooks work?
The Chromebooks have two preset profiles that can be assigned through the admin panel. The first is defined as “Classroom mode”, the second is “Exam Mode”.

In Classroom mode the Chromebooks loads a Google login box where the users university details are added. Chrome OS then loads and allows the user to access their work Chrome profile, this will include access to email, drive and any other documents within their Google profile.

Exam mode is much more stringent, and automatically logs into the device and displays the exam landing page. The student would then choose the exam they are expected to take, at which point they are then asked to sign into Moodle with their credentials. They are taken to the title screen of that exam which will display start time, end time (if set) and duration of the exam.

Should there be another requirement for a different Chromebook profile then through discussion with IS it may be possible to create one that would suit the potential need. As an example: Science made a request for exam mode to be enabled with access to a shared Google Drive document that still limited any other web access. This took over a month of testing and development between Science and IS to get the framework working and in place to use. Some requests that have been made however, were not possible and subsequently implementation was not possible.

Unlike standard Chromebooks or laptops, the TEL Chromebooks require a University of Portsmouth Google account as they’re subject to authentication  by Google.  So if you’re thinking of borrowing the Chromebooks to use with external participants, IS will need at least 72 hours notice to give them time to create dedicated accounts. If you required a large number of external accounts you would need to contact IS directly: servicedesk@port.ac.uk

Booking the Chromebooks
If you would like to borrow the Chromebooks we would require you to complete the TEL Chromebook Booking, Enquiry Form

This form asks:

  • How many Chromebooks do you require?
  • Which mode do you require?
  • Session Date
  • Session Start Time
  • Session End Time
  • Session Name
  • Session Location

You’ll need to complete an individual form for each session that you require the Chromebooks for. To make sure that the Chromebooks are in the correct mode we require a minimum of 72 hours from your initial booking to when you require the devices. Chromebooks are transported in wheel-able flight cases (15 Chromebooks per case), therefore it would be your responsibility to get them transferred to where you need them.  We’ll make sure that they’re ready at least 30 minutes before your session starts, for you come to collect them.

If you’re interested in borrowing the Chromebooks, but not sure in what capacity and would like further explanation or demonstration then please contact elearn by either telephoning extension 3355 or email us at elearn@port.ac.uk and we can provide some advice on how they have been used before around the University.

 

Assessed Videos

Jerry Collingwood

Assessed Videos is a solution developed by the TEL Team to simplify the administration processes of recording a student (or group of students) for assessment. Recordings are shared privately between the assessor and the student just as a written assignment would be. The process is so simple it has been used in class whilst students have given short presentations one after the other with the recording available to the student for review before the end of the session.

Utilising our TechSmith Relay Server (formerly Camtasia Relay) and the TechSmith Fuse mobile app (available on Android, iOS and Windows devices), a video is taken by the mobile device and uploaded to the central server where metadata such as the student’s ID number and details about the recording are stored in a database and used to assign viewing rights. As a lecturer on a really basic level, all you need to do to use this service is start a recording, stop a recording, select the appropriate profile from a dropdown list when uploading the recording and enter the student’s ID number in the description field. After five minutes (longer for high definition video, longer recordings and at peak times) the recording is available for both you and your student to view at http://relay.port.ac.uk/assessed/ where you can both log in using your standard UoP details. All of your videos will be available from one simple navigation page, so no need to remember lots of URLs or save numerous emails.

Whilst working closely with early adopters of this technology/solution, it has become clear that sometimes we can save you even more time by batch processing some of the metadata for you. For example between X and Y dates you might like all of your recordings to have similar titles .e.g ‘U12345 Assessment 1 – student number’. This can be arranged for you so that all you need to do is enter the student number in the description field as described above, rather than completing the title field each time in addition. We can also ensure that all of your recordings are shared with a colleague and vice versa – particularly useful if you team teach. Have an external examiner? No problem, we can create an account for them and share either all or just a selection of your recordings with them.

For each recording, the owner (and any markers) have space to enter a numerical grade out of 100 and also complete a comments box, but that is no reason to limit yourself with the type of feedback you could be providing. Why not film yourself talking to the camera? Simply enter the ID number for the student you are providing feedback to in the description field. Or if you are a little camera shy you could use Relay on your computer to record your screen, perhaps allowing you to add an audio comment alongside a marking grid that you might be completing for the student? If you make a number of recordings throughout the year, you can even set a written reflection exercise with your students who can reference each recording with the direct URL – their recording is still private between you and them as nobody else can view that URL without permissions.

There is both a ‘quickstart’ and a more detailed user-guide available to download from http://relay.port.ac.uk/assessed/ but if you have any questions or would like a demonstration of the system please contact the TEL team at elearn@port.ac.uk for assistance.

 

MoodleMoot 2017

Tom Langston

MoodleMoot UK & Ireland is held each year; it is the main Moodle conference in the UK which focuses on collaboration and sharing best practice. This year MoodleMoot ran for three days between the 10th and the 12th April, I attended the two days that make up the main conference and missed the “hackfest” on the first day which is typically more developer-led.

The choice of sessions available to attend were diverse and interesting. I was able to visit a number of sessions that have some great ideas, which I can hopefully introduce to the team.

I’ll will try to highlight some of the most relevant or interesting information from the sessions that I attended. However I would recommend searching Twitter for the hashtag #MootIEUK17 as many people were tweeting notes, comments and observations from each session. It really enhanced the first day of the conference for me (until my phone with the Twitter account died, but that’s another story!).

The first session I saw was from the University of London. They reviewed Moodle from both staff and student perspectives, specifically looking at navigation and how to improve the user experience. An example they used was how it’s difficult getting feedback to the student when the gradebook only displays a grade and no indication of feedback. From the academic point of view they discussed how it wasn’t clear if work was marked, or whether the student could or couldn’t see it. They reviewed the new themes being developed at Moodle and the problems they may face rolling them out before they were ready.

Janice Button from Plymouth University implemented the grid format which is a Moodle plugin that hides all the topics and creates a grid view of icons. When they are clicked the relevant section of content is then displayed.

The next session I attended was presented by Lewis Carr. He demonstrated how well developed badges increase engagement, creating more gamified interactions, this was interesting at Portsmouth we have looked at creating badges within Moodle and a few in academics within the University are using them. Properly thought out achievements and goals can also improve how the student progresses through a course. It was pointed out by Janice Button that from entry courses to level 5 (second year courses) the amount of content increased dramatically, this made the progress bar more daunting and the revisiting of quizzes and similar interactions dropped off as the amount of work to be done increased. Lewis also highlighted the need of social interaction and engaging the students before, during and after the course to develop and build the learning experience.

The morning sessions were interesting and informative and gave us plenty to discuss over lunch. After we’d eaten, there were pico presentations (short and snappy when compared the the morning talks) which opened the afternoon sessions and were a great way to continue. Two sessions stood out: our own Mike Wilson spoke about Assessment Enhancement and the customisations that have been developed for our Moodle installation, and Rebecca Barrington put the “oo” back into Moodle by looking at how to keep academics on-board with the development of sites, explaining how embedding resources within Moodle is a great way to enhance and develop what you already have.

My turn to present was nearing, now, I am not normally a nervous presenter but the thought of presenting on a stage with the glare of lights and a massive screen behind me contributed to the nerves this time around! Whilst I got through it with positive feedback and managed to handle a few questions reasonably well, I felt I could have been better and should I be lucky enough to do another talk will endeavour to get those nerves in check and slow down!

Looking back, there certainly wasn’t a need to be nervous, the whole day was incredibly relaxed and just a creative hub for people who are keen educators, all looking at how we can approach our teaching, training and Moodle usage in a interesting way.

A panel discussion on getting rid of the desktop and turning to only a mobile solution ended the day. This was a very open discussion with questions from the audience and a range of views. A point that resonated with me, was the idea that we should always look at what we do for those end users on a mobile as the number of active mobile users is rising. The other side of this argument however, is that development from a mobile is not really practical. Whatever we develop should allow us to be flexible though, ensuring that our end users having the easiest and most simple experience of Moodle. The new themes and tools that are being added to the newer versions of Moodle show that this is also a concern for the ‘core’ Moodle team.

Day two of the conference saw my phone die, which meant that tweeting from the @TelPortsmouth account was curbed! The sessions I would like to draw on from the second day happened just before lunch as the second day was more sedate due to the evening festivities of the reception dinner the night before.

Mary Cooch, who is known amongst the Moodle community as the ‘Moodle Fairy’, did two sessions and I attended one entitled “10 user experience improvements since Moodle 3.1” of which I had heard of most updates. It was useful to see but essentially if you go through a versions release notes they will be highlighted there (I am sure many people don’t!)

The second session and my pick of the second day was “Competency based education a look at the features in Moodle 3.1 / 3.2”. This session was interesting, informative and above all confusing! Competencies are used to “describe the level of understanding or proficiency of a learner in certain subject-related skills”. Competencies are a new and growing feature of Moodle. TEL are researching Competencies so that members of staff in the University can possibly make use of them in the future.

MoodleMoot is a fantastic event that I would suggest to anyone involved with any aspect of Moodle. It was engaging, with a great range of subjects and everything from back end/admin level sessions to those designed to be understandable for the average user. It was also a great place to ask anyone a question, everyone was approachable and for the reception dinner, a great place to hijack the Moodle stage display and use it for photos!

 

Making online exams work for you

Mike Wilson

When it comes to online exams there are a number of questions that cause headaches for support staff and academics. Where am I going to find the time to create all the questions? How do I make sense of all these settings in a Moodle Quiz? How can I keep an eye on so many students during the exam itself?

The simple answer to all these questions is normally to speak to the right people. The first port of call, if you’re interested in getting started with online assessment, it’s your friendly Faculty Online Course Developer (or the central eLearn team), who will be happy to advise or point you in the right direction.

Moodle is of course not the only tool for conducting online exams, but it is very good at handling large groups of students who are attempting many questions all at the same time. These questions generally have a right or wrong answer, most of which can be automatically marked. Essay questions can also be posed, but these will require manual grading. (Many students these days have difficulty in writing by hand  for three hours, so if your exam is heavily essay-based you might want to investigate a tool such as DigiExam, which  allows students to type their answers (contact the eLearn team for more information about DigiExam).

A tremendous amount of question-writing effort has already been made at UoP by staff across faculties. There are close to a million questions already in Moodle, most created directly by staff but with a significant percentage having been imported from existing Word documents, shared by colleagues in other departments or institutions, purchased from commercial suppliers or imported from older systems. You don’t always have to start from scratch, as many academics already have treasure troves of questions that can be adapted or imported.

Once you have the questions you wish to pose, your next step will be setting up the quiz that will be used to deliver the questions. This annotated pdf of typical Moodle exam settings walks you through the various quiz settings (many of which are set to the optimum setting by default). Your Faculty Online Course Developer will be able to help out here, and also assist with the important job of testing the quiz or exam.

By this point you’ll have a working, thoroughly tested Moodle quiz that you could use for a summative assessment. As a member of staff you’ll have gone through a process of familiarisation. It’s important that you allow your students the same familiarisation with the online exam process (what to expect on exam day, how the software works and so on), not to mention any administrative staff and moderators who will be involved. It’s advisable to schedule some mock exam sessions well in advance of your first exam so your students are fully prepared when it comes to the real thing. Although it’s by no means compulsory, Safe Exam Browser (SEB) can be leveraged here. SEB is a web browser, available on all student PCs, which locks students down to a single Moodle quiz and prevents them from accessing other web sites or resources. SEB will help you keep an eye on large groups of students and be certain they are concentrating on the task at hand. Take a look at this Safe Exam Browser FAQs if it’s something you might be interested in. DCQE also have a set of 30 Chromebooks which can be locked down into exam mode potentially turning any wifi enabled room into an exam room. More information along with the Chromebook booking form can be found here.

Hopefully this blog post has sparked your enthusiasm for giving online exams a go. The keys to success are (i) getting in touch with your faculty online course developer who can help you at various points along the way, and (ii) starting with non-critical familiarisation exercises which give room for finding the edges of online assessment. It’s fair to say that you will have to dedicate a bit of time to start with creating quiz questions, but the downstream benefits of online assessment can be significant.

Some useful resources

eAssessment at the University of Portsmouth

Quiz support materials for staff

Quiz questions examples and templates

DigiExam

Image credits: https://pixabay.com/p-1828268/?no_redirect