Thursday, 11 September 2014

TELFest - Day Four

We're in our fourth day and still going strong!

Thursday at TELFest began with an introductory practical session led by Zaf Ali on MOLE Assignment, allowing a hands-on look at electronic submission via the University's VLE. This was followed by Ros Walker leading a session on the suite of software available by Echo. This included the Echo360 lecture capture system, MyEcho personal capture, and a demonstration of Lecture Tools, an system for interactive lectures currently being trialed by the University.

Today's panel discussion was on Assessment and Feedback. It was chaired by Duco vo Oostrom, of the School of English, and featured System Engineering's Anthony Rossiter, Ollie Johnson of Academic & Learning Service's Flexible and Formative Feedback Project, and Nicki Newman and Andrea Ward of the Management School.

The panel began by discussing what they regard as good assessment, with answers including being clearly aligned with learning outcomes, clear links with lectures and tutorials, consistency, and good communication of what assessment entails. However it was identified that these are ideals that cannot always be afforded with practical considerations such as modularisation and large class sizes. Technology was discussed as a way to solve such as these problems, such as time-saving caused by discussion groups over emails, and electronic marking being an agency for consistency among different markers.

On feedback, it was seen that students do not take full responsibility for their own part. Anthony Rossiter led with comments that all emphasis was with staff, and feedback doesn't even become feedback until something's done with it by the student. Ollie Johnson agreed in th sense that the National Student Survey, which had led to much pressure to improve feedback, saw feedback as too much of a product, but there should be further support to help students engage with it. A general theme on the panel was challenges of student engagement with feedback, and being interested mainly with marks, with Andrea Ward giving an example of statistics that show relatively few students actually read feedback at all. This led to a suggestion of introducing a system where marks were only released to students once feedback has been read, although it was noted this may inconvenience and annoy students finding the information they need if not implemented correctly. Also it's academics' responsibility to elevate feedback above mere justification for grades, and points about engaging with feedback being a developmental need for entering work were raised.

This was a lively and interesting discussion on a topic close to all academics' hearts, with some great interaction from the audience.

Finally, Thursday ended with another practical session, this time Grazyna Whalley and Zaf Ali led a beginner's session on using Google Apps for Productivity, Learning and Teaching.

The week's flown, and it all ends tomorrow! Friday's sessions include talks on web conferencing, mobile learning, innovative practice and multimedia. Hopefully we'll see some of you down there.

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