100 ways to use a VLE – #9 Peer Assessment

June 18, 2010

We are often fearful of getting our peers to judge us, is that because we fear they are incompetent at assessing us, or that they are so much like us that they will do it honestly and openly and notice all our hidden flaws?

Probably for the latter reason peer assessment by learners of learner is such a valuable method of assessment. Learners giving each other formative or summative feedback to each other can be a very positive activity, even if it is (to the learners) somewhat daunting.

There are many advantages to peer assessment. It can enhance learning through learners having to not convince you that they understand a topic, but also ensure that their peers understand the topic too. It allows for a greater depth of self-reflection by learners on the learning process. Peer assessment is daunting, but as a result can increase the confidence of learners as they need to work with each other. This working together builds social interaction across a group of learners and a support mechanism.

There are some issues and fears in regard to peer assessment. It can be an administrative nightmare. It is dependent on learners all taking part and not all will want to, some may not want to give the same level of effort as others. Conflict and arguments can arise, unlikely to happen with other forms of assessment, and will the learners have the skills and the confidence to resolve these conflicts. Some staff think that it will be challenging to do and that “exam boards” may object. Even some learners may object as they see the assessment process as an end and not as a learning process in itself.

One of the key features of peer assessment is communication and though e-mail and SMS is one way, the VLE allows for the communication to be more easily aggregated, sorted and assessed.

Any piece of peer assessed work, like any other piece of assessed work, needs a detailed briefing, time to discuss, both face to face and online, and guidelines and rules need to be in place. Once more the VLE is an idea vehicle to provide the online space for the briefing, online discussions, guidelines and rules. Providing a dedicated space on the VLE for the assessment will make it easier for learners to compartmentalise the assessment from other parts of the course.

Using the VLE allows learners to undertake parts of the peer assessment at a time and place to suit them; in college, at home, in the workplace or drinking coffee!

Peer assessment offers a different process of assessment that engages learners, builds relationships and improves learning. By undertaking that peer assessment through the VLE ensures that it is easier for learners to work together, discuss, share and refer to in the future.

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100 ways to use a VLE – #8 Assessment Feedback

April 9, 2010

In a previous entry in this series I wrote about how the VLE can be used for assignment submission and setting an assessment.

You can of course use the VLE to provide feedback on those submitted assignments or assessments.

Feedback is important to learners, it allows them to reflect on their work, to improve the current future work and improve their potential to finish and succeed on the course, module or programme of study.

Traditionally feedback was written onto the handwritten scripts that the learner submitted.

We have moved along a little since then, it is now, as already mentioned, very easy to set an assessment on the VLE and for the learner to submit their work on the VLE. It closes the circle if the feedback on the assessment is also on the VLE.

Though some practitioners like to write on scripts, this can be challenging if the submitted work is electronic, I know you can say print it off, but what about if the submitted work is a poster, a website, a presentation, a video, an audio recording… quite challenging to write feedback on an audio recording!

It makes much more sense to place this feedback where the learner can access it. Of course feedback needn’t always be textual, and using audio, video or screencasted feedback means the ideal home for this feedback is on the VLE. It needn’t get lost in the pile of papers that most learners carry or in the hundreds of e-mails if it was e-mailed. Most institutional e-mails have a limit on the size of the mailbox and this can cause issues not just for the learner who receives the e-mail but also the practitioner who sends feedback (and they will send it to a whole class).

Remember they may need to access it more than once, especially if they have to resubmit for example. Feedback is not a one off process it can be useful for reflective learners to re-read feedback on not just their latest piece of work, but also past pieces of work so that they can enhance and improve future pieces of work; demonstrate that they do understand and can apply the substance of the course.

Feedback is important, it doesn’t have to be on or live on the VLE, but the VLE can be a useful place to deliver and store feedback on assessments for learners.

Picture source.


100 ways to use a VLE – #95 Setting an Assessment

January 29, 2010

Assessment is an important check on learning, have the learners understood what they have learnt and can they apply what they have learnt.

Assessment can take many forms, most require not just time from the learner to complete, but also from the assessor in marking the work. It also takes time for all the “paperwork” related to submitting assignments.

Though a VLE can not be used to set and mark all assessments it can be used to make life easier for the assessor in maintaining the “paperwork” of assessment. Have all the learners received the assessment? Have all the learners submitted their assignment? Which learners have submitted on time? Has the assessor graded every assignment? Has the assessor given every learner feedback on their assignment?

The assignment module on Moodle (VLE) can allow for all this making life much easier for assessors to ensure that all the relevant “paperwork” and grading for assignments is done. Learners know that they have submitted and they can use the VLE to access their grade and feedback; they can also re-submit via the VLE too.

The submission process can be undertaken by the learner at a time and place to suit the learner; likewise the assessor can collect in and mark the assignments when and where they want to.

Using a VLE to set an assignment, to ensure that learners submit their assignment, grade and provide feedback can make life easier and better for learners and save time for assessors.

Photo source.


Using video assessment

November 7, 2009

Rob Whitehouse describes how he used video assessment to improve retention and achievement with his learners. He explores with other curriculum staff in the college their experiences of using video.


Personalisation of Assessment

November 21, 2008

Traditional assessment models in education often not only clarify the learning outcomes from the assessment, but also the mode of assessment.

For example

Write an essay on the impact of shrinking consumer income on supermarkets.

The learning outcome is quite clearly demonstrate your understanding of how falling consumer incomes will impact on the supermarket business.

But why does it have to be supermarkets?

But why does it have to be an essay?

Couldn’t the learner choose and be actively involved in designing their own assessment and therefore their own learning.

One learner may for example want to produce a radio show (podcast) which demonstrates that they understand how falling consumer incomes will impact on radio stations.

Another learner may want to have an online discussion with others on the impact of falling incomes on the places where they work.

Of course this may make assessment more challenging for the assessor, so how do we deal with that?