Our use of online assessments is through etivities which are designed to leverage meaningful and evidence-based online interactions via in-depth discussion boards and collaborative Wikis amongst many other technologies, the design of which are all rooted in social-constructivist theories of teaching and learning. These intentionally elicit ‘double-loop’ interaction between peers, critical engagement and facilitate a sense of community and peer support within the cohort, critical to an optimal level of learner engagement, whilst building a collaborative intelligence within each cohort, yet acknowledging the constraints and enablers of the individual professional context of each learner. Team working, collaborative tasks and social interaction all enhance the process of cognitive development and often result in greater evidence of the achievement of learning outcomes, as this allows for deeper engagement with concepts as multiple perspectives challenge existing assumptions.
A good example may be found in our In Company “Live” Project which all learners complete at the end of their first year on our 2 year part-time fully online MSc in Project and Programme Management. The project is delivered in 5 stages as illustrated below.
This project is run over 7 weeks and during each stage learners are required to conduct peer reviews and provide constructive formative feedback through collaborative wiki spaces. The extract example below illustrates the etivity design and the type of interaction that takes place during stage 1.
This approach is repeated in each of the 5 stages and ultimately leads towards the final submission report and presentation – which is the main piece of assessment for the module (65%). The etivities themselves account for 10% of the module.
The MA in Technical Communication and E-Learning, has both an online and an on-campus delivery mode and won the Grad Ireland Higher Education Awards 2018 Course of the Year Awards (Arts and Humanities). We use various types of online assessment techniques, including peer review, graded discussions, and e-tvities (see Darina Slattery 5-minute teaching talk about e-tivities in the Conversations in the Consortium series). Our students also undertake a virtual team assignment, in collaboration with technical communication students from the University of Central Florida, and translation students from Université Paris VII.
As part of the module ME4523 Thermodynamics 1 Module in October 2017, we ran a first group assignment for 146 students (29 Groups). A second one is now open for module ME4526 Introduction to Heat Transfer.
The objective of the assignment was to develop a greater understanding of the second law of thermodynamics and the flow of energy by studying a video clip of the groups choice that is being played in reverse. The assignment had multiple steps each with a specific deadline. Students accessed a Moodle Wiki top see what group they were assigned to. The first deliverable by each group was to draw up a Group Charter, exemplars and format was provided. Each member of the group submitted their Group Charter to Sulis (through an assignment link on Moodle). Then, they had to select or make a video-clip of choice (not longer than 10-20 seconds) which is played in reverse (it can played forwards also). The objective of this group assignment is to analyse and form consensus why these processes cannot happen according to the second law of thermodynamics. The next phase consisted in a critical friend approach by each group in providing formal feedback on another groups video and 5 page draft report in each groups wiki page. In stage 5 each group had to produce a final report which critically reflected on the feedback they received and what they learned from engaging in both the collaborative group work and what they learned from engaging and providing feedback to their peers work. Each member of the group upload a copy of the their groups final report in Sulis through an assignment link on Moodle. 146 Assignments received on time!
Our module BR4001 Social and Civil Engagement, intends to promote students’ development of key graduate attributes through self-directed collaborative projects in issues related to social and civil engagement. In groups, they are required to design, run and present a campaign in a social and civil engagement issue. The module is assessed through an e-portfolio based on Wordpress which serves as a campaign website (40% in total), which includes explanation of the objective of their campaign, pictures, videos, marketing materials, a public presentation, and links to social media used for the campaign (usually Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat). They also need to include a group reflection mapping the experience to the Graduate Attributes, which complements individual blogging reflections submitted week on week during the process.
Antonio’s innovative approach to teaching and assessment, which he has branded as #CoolPE, is focused on preparing pre-service teachers for the inclusive classroom in a digital era. The module aims to prepare pre-service teachers to examine sociological concepts of teaching and learning in physical education (gender, obesity, religion, nomophobia, etc). Every lecture starts with a though provoking ‘clip of the week’. Following the video, in teams of four, pre-service teachers reflect on the thoughts of the student from the video and proposed ideas to help. Every lecture includes also an article of the week: teams had to answer different questions linked with the video and the article, which was projected in the class screen simulating a game show. The approach of assessment consists of:
The assessment, which included a good element of self-evaluation, was managed through social media tools and Whatsapp. This innovation was awarded the Jennifer Burke Award for Innovation in Teaching & Learning in 2017, through this video.