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Month: April 2020


Beginning Assessment

Reading Time: 2 minutes

What is the purpose of assessment?

I had not thought of it this way, but there are two different purposes to academic assesment:

  1. Organisational Assurance: do the students know what we think they should know, and do they know it at a ‘masterful’ level?
  2. Student-Centred Assessment: do the students themselves know what they do and don’t know?

These two aims may sometimes conflict and need to be balanced. An over-emphasis on organisational assurance could negatively impact on transactional distance, while an over-emphasis on the student-centred learning, might detract from engaged learning communities and engaged online teaching.

On the other hand, good digital assessments can have a positive effect on student motivation, achievement, and engagement, by encouraging the students to develop more robust self-regulatory approaches to learning.

We are reminded that The Manifesto for Teaching Online tells us,

“A digital assignment can live on. It can be iterative, public, risky, and multi-voiced,”

and so we are encouraged to create assessment practices that bring to life the regulations of the university (2019) in innovative ways (what?).

In practice, that means we should be creating assessments that:

  • are beneficial to both the student and the programme
  • actively foster learning
  • are fair, reliable and valid
  • are secure and transparent
  • are linked to an authentic context

Authenticity in Assessment

Authentic assessments would be task-based, requiring students to demonstrate practices, behaviours, and skills that are relevant to professional practitioners in their intended fields.

For example, authentic assessments could include practice-based projects to apply domain specific concepts, organisational scenarios, and even mock consultancies for organisations.

References and Links

  • Bettley, A., & Horrocks, I. (2018). Emergent Versus Planned Assessment and Tuition Strategies for Online Postgraduate Teaching of Technology and Innovation Management at the Open University, UK. In On the Line (pp. 55-73). Springer, Cham.
  • Hatziapostoulou T. & Paraskakis I. (2010). Enhancing the impact of formative feedback on student learning through an online feedback system. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 8, 11–122.
  • Ibabe I., & Jauregizar J. (2010). Online self-assessment with feedback and metacognitive knowledge. Higher Education, 59, 243–258. doi:10.1007/s10734-009-9245-6.
  • Moore, M. G. (2013). The Theory of Transactional Distance. In Handbook of distance education (84-103). London: Routledge.
  • University of Edinburgh (2019). Taught Assessment Regulations Academic Year 2018/19. Available:
  • The Manifesto for Teaching Online
Keyboard with a key that says Accessibility

Writing Accessibility Statements

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Website accessibility

Website Accessibility
Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

Today I attended a very interesting training session on Accessibility Statement Writing, run by some of the Disability Officers.

One point they stressed several times was to get an accessibility statement started and published, which could then be improved upon. They suggested using automated tools as a good place to start, although they wouldn’t catch every potential issue.

Useful links for reference:

Robots and humans

Video Reflections on Automation in Teaching

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Researchers from the Near Future Teaching Project interviewed students to get their thoughts on automation in teaching, and they had some interesting thoughts:

Woodcut illustration of a teacher and students

Teachers, Bots, and the Teacher Function Online

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Is it good when times keep changing?

Would automation of teaching bring us enhanced efficiency with ‘teacher-light’ tuition, or should it be resisted as damaging to teacher professionalism and the humanistic values of education?

With Teacherbot, an experiment in automated teaching, Professor of Digital Education, Sian Bayne (2015) asked,

What about the spaces in between teaching? What if “the ‘teacher function’ might become less a question of living teacher presence and more a posthuman mash-up of video, algorithm and automated process?” Could that both broaden and improve the student and teaching experience of what it means to be at university online?

Feedback and speech bubbles

Discussion: Assessment and feedback

Reading Time: 5 minutes

  1. What concerns would you imagine people having with feedback and assessment online who were new to this form of teaching? (for example, uncertainty about how much time to spend giving feedback).
  2. Imagine you are an online student. How much feedback would you want? How many times per course would you want to be assessed?

Formative vs Summative Assessment

Different types of feedback

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Different types of feedback


The reason for feedforward is that feedback received on a final assignment isn’t actionable within the course itself. Instead, we can provide feedforward from an earlier activity that is directly related to the final assignment, so that this demonstrates to the students what they need to do.

Peer-based feedback

Although feedback from a tutor results in greater learning gains, both giving and receiving constructive feedback between peers are critical skills that can be incorporated into a course design to help encourage an engaged learning community.

I found this useful list of types of questions on Wikimedia Commons:

Types of questions and Activities

Types of Questions and Activities: Public domain image by M chap, via Wikimedia Commons



“When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative assessment; when the customer tastes the soup, that’s summative assessment.” ~ Paul Black, frequently cited as a forefather of formative assessment research

Feedback Sketchnote

What makes for effective feedback?

Reading Time: < 1 minute

(Header image: Feedback Sketchnote, by Luigi Mengato, via Flickr. Licence: CC-BY-20. These sketchnotes are a very interesting find that I definitely want to check out later!)

What makes for effective feedback?

Feedback diagram

Feedback should be actionable, timely and relevant


Actionable means that the feedback gives the student some practical advice they can act on to improve their future work.


Timely means that the feedback is provided as soon as possible after the activity. In some cases, this could be synchronous, for example when a teacher takes and observer role and provides feedback during the course of an activity. Automated marking processes can also provide instant feedback. In other cases, assignments should be marked and feedback provided as soon as possible after they are submitted.


Feedback should be relevant to the particular learning activity, the academic discipline being studied, and the professional practice that the students are preparing for.

Graphic representing evaluation and feedback

Video Reflections on Feedback and Assessment

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Here are some thoughts on feedback and assessment from around the University:

Feedback survey

Beginning Module 4: Feedback and Assessment

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Feedback and Assessment is a very relevant module for me now, as we are currently working on preparing for the remote exams that are now required because of the coronavirus pandemic. I am very thankful to have this module available!

These are the learning objectives:

Module 4 Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this module, I will:

  • Understand the key concepts of online feedback and assessment.
  • Evaluate and redefine our own feedback and assessment practices for application online.
  • Reflect on the impact of feedback and feedback on subsequent assessment design and student performance.

Feedback and assessment are key to the development of engaged learning communities and engaged online teaching practices. We need to learn how best to construct them.

Photo of a Qi Gong pose

Using Flow with Teams, part 2

Reading Time: 19 minutes


This is a follow on from my previous post, ‘Using Microsoft Flow to update a Teams group with SharePoint activity‘. Flow is also known as Power Automate, and it is a Microsoft method for connecting apps so that outputs from one app can become inputs to another app, and events that happen in one app can trigger procedures in another app.

In my previous post, I added Flow to a Microsoft Teams group, and set up conditional testing to post a message in one of two Teams channels, depending on the value chosen in a metadata column when a file was uploaded to a SharePoint library belonging to the Team.

The Plan

The next steps to improve on this Flow will be:

  1. Changing the SharePoint column name to ‘Relevance’ and the option labels, Teams channel names and Flow conditions to say ‘Urgent’ and ‘FYI’ rather than ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Never’. This morphed into the far more complicated problem of waiting for the SharePoint column value to change before continuing the Flow.
    Jump to this section.
  2. In the message that’s posted to Teams, change the text displaying the uploaded file’s URL to a working link to the file.
    Jump to this section.
  3. Post the message in Teams using the name of the person who uploaded the file to SharePoint.
    Jump to this section.
  4. Another thing I would like to do is to add the updates as cards in ‘To Do’ columns in the Teams group Trello board.
    Jump to this section.
  5. Summary: Bringing the last few things together. Jump to summary section
  6. Jump to links

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