Comparability in assessment

It was a week for assessment events - the e-Assessment Association Glasgow seminar, and a joint Assessment meets Enterprise meets Portfolio CETIS meeting. While the eAA is perhaps more focused on schools and colleges, and CETIS relates more strongly to HE, there was still some interesting links between the two events.

Helen Ashton and Cliff Beevers gave a presentation at the eAA that covered some of the history, current status and future of e-Assessment. This wasn't just the technology though, Helen talked us through the pros and cons, referring to the three stages of generational change proposed by Randy Bennett in his forecast on the future of large-scale educational assessment, published in 1998. Even ten years on, we are some way off Bennett's "Generation 'R' Tests (Reinvention)". Yes, assessment is being "administered at a distance" and it does "use complex simulations, including virtual reality". But, can we really say that assessment is "integrated with instruction (teaching)" and "designed according to cognitive principles"?

Helen went on to talk us through how paper-based assessment questions had been converted for delivery online. There were quite a few examples from maths (she is a mathematician afterall!) but it all served to demonstrate that we need to remember to look at comparability, and Helen gave an overview of various comparison studies. Cliff and Helen's presentation is available as a pdf.

The first presentation at the CETIS event concerned forthcoming calls for studies from JISC. One of these was described as a mixed methods study regarding the 'Quality of e-Assessment'. It was suggested that it is intended to address some of the "deep-rooted concerns" regarding quality amongst those sceptical of e-Assessment. It sounds as those members of the eAA are already working in this area.

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Engaging with your "clients" in health and education

I've just come across two interesting news items - one about the use of Web2.0 in the Health sector and another about using online games to encourage children to respond to a consultation about play spaces.

Although the full text is not available without paying a hefty sum, the Executive Summary of the E-health 2.0 report is available. The report offers an overview of twenty "leading e-health 2.0 providers", and discusses a number of themes that emerge from this overview, including: Transparency in the health system; Rebalancing the doctor-patient relationship; Consumer empowerment; Empowerment through connectivity; and Mobilisation of data. According to Public Technology.net "The profiles provide a snapshot of innovation across healthcare: from organisations providing online communities for patients with specific conditions, tools for chronic disease management, sites that enable patients to rate the quality of care they receive, together with tools to enable clinicians to better search for and share research data."

The second story I saw came from the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The Playspace consultation tool is a neat online tool which is aimed at 8-13 year olds to try and get them involved with a national consultation on the development of play spaces. In a Sims type game it allows kids to create their ideal playspace, and they earn credits to buy cool things (like skate ramps, swings, etc) for their playspace by answering child-friendly questions based around the consultation.

I suppose what struck me most about these is the way in which technology is changing the relationship between organisations and their 'clients'. Whether that's through finding interesting and fun ways to engage children and therefore enable them to contribute to developments in their world, or encouraging greater interaction, support and freedom of choice through the use of social networking in the health sector.

It's encouraging engagement, interaction, involvement and ownership of these issues and with increasing familiarity and access to technology it seems likely to become more prevalent in every part of our lives.

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Is the world open?

This short extract in elearning papers from an article by Richard Straub discusses how "The idea of 'openness' is emerging as a dominant attribute of key developments in our economic and social fabric" and how with the emergence and increasing dominance of Web 2.0, we now have "the infrastructure and tools to operate in new ways in open systems".

Yet collaborative, open souce, open access is not yet the norm (understandably as it often forces a complete u-turn in business strategy). However, this trend for 'openness' is likely to continue to grow, particularly as more of the big names join in. Google have recently announced that they will join Myspace and Facebook in enabling users to move their personal profiles and applications to other websites, further facilitating the social (and open) aspects of online life.

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Online conferencing and learning in other worlds

I've just come across an interesting post from Rowin Young of CETIS about using World of Warcraft (WoW) for online conferencing. It is an interesting idea and follows on from work looking at using virtual worlds in an education context (for example see the video Rowin points out about the use of WoW, or check out a recent article in Escalate news by Sian Bayne and Fiona Littleton about the use of Virtual worlds (specifically Second Life) in Education).

It's great to see these innovative approaches being investigated (a recent Elearning Alliance event to discuss the use of Second Life held at Edinburgh University demonstrated the high level of interest), but beyond the draw of "intrigue" as Hamish Macleod (Ed University) put it, the added value - if any - still needs to be assessed in more depth. Further discussion of the possibilities of Second Life, and some reflections from the team at Edinburgh can also be found in this recent Guardian article, and current uses on the Second Life in Education wiki (which I came across thanks to ScotFEICT).

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From washing machines to Web 2.0

Just been dipping into the Eduserve symposium on 'Inside Out: What do current Web trends tell us about the future of ICT provision for learners and researchers?' It's all streamed, which is nice for those of us who couldn't make it to London in person, especially with the linked live chat. I particularly like the way the chat is set up alongside the video stream - sounds obvious and simple, but has probably taken someone a lot of head scratching on the technical front. Shame we can't see who is in the live chat, but you can't have everything. There is a efsym2008 social network tho.

The first presentation was from Larry Johnson of the New Media Consortium. (NMC is the organisation that along with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative produces the Horizon report.) Larry talked through some of the history of innovation and the impact of inventions (like washing machines!) drawing on "When old technologies were new. Thinking about electric communication in the late 19th century". He moved onto the Horizon report which "charts the landscape of emerging technologies" especially as they expand the "boundaries of teaching, learning and creative expression by creatively applying new tools in new contexts". The report is in its fifth year, and part of his talk included a meta-analysis of the last five years. It was striking how despite changing membership of the panel who produce the report, there was a shared vision over the years.

Larry's presentation was delivered via his avatar in Secondlife, which was a neat idea, but not so easy to see his slides over the video stream. Although Kate has just pointed out in the chat that if Larry shares the location, anyone can explore the presentation later and chat together there, "which would be a much richer experience than just looking at his slides somewhere online".

I'll just have to read the report direct, which is probably a good thing!

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