Week 4 – Supporting learners through assessment and feedback using TEL

This week we will look at how learners can be supported through assessment and feedback, and how technology can help. This follows on from week 3, which had a focus on materials, technologies and platforms. We are still thinking about “how” things are done in Technology Enhanced Learning and after a bit of breathing space during the last week, reading week, we hope you are ready for the second part of the course. Now to this week’s topic: assessment and feedback.The purpose of assessment can be to deepen understanding (formative) or to test and measure levels of knowledge (summative).  The purpose of feedback, either from dedicated tutors or informally from peers, is to help learners progress with their learning. Self-assessment and reflection are also important aspects of learning in both formal and informal educational contexts. Throughout this week you will be encouraged to draw on, and reflect upon, your own experiences of assessment and feedback, either as a tutor, as a designer or supporter of student learning, or as a learner yourself. Here are some of the challenges that we hope this module will help you tackle:

  • How do I provide timely, effective assessment and feedback to learners?
  • How can technology help to guide, prompt and challenge learners?
  • What types of technology will be most appropriate for my learners?
  • Where can I find out more about the options available?

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This week’s aims

We expect that by participating this week, you’ll be more ready to:

  • critique models and theories of assessment, feedback and learner support;
  • design e-assessment and feedback activities that suit your learning context and meet learner needs;
  • create an environment that is conducive to supporting self-directed learning, peer support and networking;
  • understand a range of models of learner support with TEL and their implications for teaching staff.

If you only do one thing

On your blog or via Twitter (using #ocTEL tag), on this forum topic, or via the JiscMail list, post a message about your experiences or expectations of e-assessment and e-feedback to support student learning. For example,

  • Why did/would you choose a particular type of e-assessment? Describe why you think it is effective and how it can help deepen knowledge and understanding.
  • In your experience, what type of approach creates an environment conducive to self-directed learning, peer support and collaborative learning? How might technology help?
  • What opportunities and challenges does this approach present to tutors?

If you are new to designing and implementing e-assessment and e-feedback, you may find it useful to begin by reading pages 1-17 of the Jisc publication Effective Assessment in a Digital Age (pdf). You are also encouraged to draw on your own experiences, either as a tutor or as a learner, or both.

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Come and join the live webinar

Date/Time: Wednesday, 4th June May , 2014, 1:00pm BST (timezone conversion | iCal)

The webinar this week will give you insight into recent work in the area of using TEL for assessment and feedback. The webinar will take place on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at midday and will be led by Lisa Gray from Jisc together with colleagues from across the Technology Enhanced Assessment programme. The webinar will give you the chance to explore examples of current practice and research and a chance to meet up with other ocTEL participants virtually. Participate in the live session using

Blackboard Collaborate: http://go.alt.ac.uk/octel2014-week4-webinar
Watch live stream of Blackboard Collaborate session on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXgR0HG5PvI

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Activities for this week

Activity 4.1: Reading and reflection

(1 hour) Read Effective Assessment in a Digital Age (JISC, 2010). Choose either one of the case studies listed on pages 26-29 or an example of assessment design from your own experience and –

  • consider how the case study or design relates to the teaching and learning perspectives on page 11,
  • examine how it reflects the REAP (Re-Engineering Assessment Practices) principles of effective formative and feedback on page 15,
  • propose an alternative form of online assessment which could achieve the same learning goals.

Please post your thoughts on your blog or via Twitter (using #ocTEL tag), on this forum topic, or via the JiscMail list.

Activity 4.2: Designing learner support

(1 hour)

For this activity you may choose to focus on tutor support, peer support or a combination of both.  Drawing on the list of resources provided below and your own previous experience,

  • describe how you, as a tutor or supporter of student learning, would implement one or more kinds of support to meet the needs of your learners;
  • suggest which types of technologies would be most appropriate to support this and why.

Please post your thoughts on your blog or via Twitter (using #ocTEL tag), on this forum topic, or via the JiscMail list.

Activity 4.3: Discussion

(1 hour)

On your blog or via Twitter (using #ocTEL tag), on this forum topic, or via the JiscMail list, please share your thoughts on the following.

  • How have you found the support you have received as a learner in this online course from tutors and peers in terms of constructive feedback and interaction?
  • How do you think it could be enhanced?


  • Post your reflection on the online assessment method of your choice  #ocTEL
  • Come and hear Lisa Gray speak at the live webinar on Wednesday
  • Read, watch or listen to two or three of the recommended resources for this week’s topic
  • Write a post answering one or more of the key questions this week and comment on others #ocTEL
  • Have a browse through the course reader to have a look at what else is going on
  • Have a look at the new archive of the Daily Newsletter

Resources and more to watch, read and research

Videos, blogs and wikis

Books, Papers and Reports

Practical Resources and case studies

Be a TEL Explorer

Explorer Activity 4.4: The practice of peer review

(1 hour) Peer review the posts of two fellow participants on Activity 4.2 – whether it’s as a comment on their blog, a reply on the forum or on the JiscMail list – about how they would implement learner support in their own course and, taking account of any personal reflections they have already provided, consider:

  • if the design / approach or mix of approaches is appropriate for the given context;
  • aspects of the design you think work particularly well;
  • at least one suggestion for improving the design;
  • resources they might refer to in order to improve or extend the design.

Note: in this activity it’s the giving not the receiving of peer review that matters most. So don’t worry if you don’t receive a review. To ensure as many participants as possible receive a peer review, you may wish to review someone who has not yet received one.

Explorer Activity 4.5: Reflecting on peer feedback

(30 mins) Having reviewed a peer’s contribution, reflect on:

  • Did the experience of reviewing someone else’s learner support design, help you to consider aspects of your own design? What skills could peer review help you to develop as an online learner?
  • Consider your own learner support design, and articulate what changes you would make to your own design as a result of having reviewed someone else’s
  • If you have received a review of your own design, reflect on the review and articulate what changes you would make as a result of the review

Post your thoughts on your blog or via Twitter (using #ocTEL tag), on this forum topic, or via the JiscMail list.

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Notes and commentary

During this week we explore different ways in which technology can support assessment and feedback, both in the classroom and online, and share experiences of how some of us have approached this in our own educational context. We look at some of the theories and frameworks that have been developed, and consider how principles can underpin development. ALT’s Technology-Supported Assessment wiki, part of theWhat research has to say to practice series, is a good place to start. As well as summative assessment and tutor feedback, we also consider self- and peer- assessment, and how students can be encouraged to recognise and act on feedback in different forms. There are many ways of supporting learning in TEL, and almost as many ways of categorising them. The practice of supporting learners is very different when mediated by technology, compared with being in a classroom. Learners learn — as you are doing now — at their own pace and the way they go about their learning activities is driven by their own interests, as well as by the ‘programming’ of the learning materials and by the activity and feedback of their peers. The role of the tutor is more to support, channel and enrich these activities than simply to relate or direct them. Alongside the support learners might receive from their tutor or peer, is the support that can come from personal learning networks (PLNs), which learners create themselves, often supported by the use of social media. Significant amounts of funding have been invested in developing new approaches to assessment and feedback in recent years and many of the resources which you are encouraged to look at this week are the outcomes of projects funded by Jisc and the Higher Education Academy in the UK.

6 responses to Week 4 – Supporting learners through assessment and feedback using TEL

  1. Was trying to marry up readlist summary from @kerr63 with reading list links shown above.

    Only just realised URL for Sally Jordon’s given above is general ref to blog, rather than specific post, so not sure now if there was something specific in march that was really good (like the interesting take on learning analytics at http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/SallyJordan/?m=201403) or whether it’s just a pointer of something to dip into.

  2. Quick comment – not sure if longer one got lost.

    Would be good to know if pointer to Sally Jordan’s blog is general ref or whether there was something particular in march.

    I found the post on learning analytics (in the context of formative tests at http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/SallyJordan/?m=201403) particularly interesting.

    Btw, this post was inspired by trying to engage with readlists and noticing that content didn’t match what I expected.

  3. I think it was a link to her blog in general than a specific item. @LindaCreanor may be able to confirm

  4. Help locating a (week 4) resource?
    Yesterday I found a great doc that classified feedback, e.g. P1 ‘giving praise’ type feedback, but also gave more guidance such as ‘this sort of feedback (P1) shouldn’t be overused…’
    It’s either a JISC, Institute of Education London (IOE), or Dundee document, PDF report I think…
    Here is a little of it in Slide 6-7 in http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearningpedagogy/elpconference12/~/media/JISC/programmes/elearningpedagogy/jiscel2012/a_presentations/aw07_session7_presentation.ashx
    Anyone help me…?

    • I’d imagine it is one of the documents listed here http://assessmentcareers.jiscinvolve.org/wp/about/

      • Many thanks, Martin, I will give the resources a thorough look over tomorrow. A quick look just now shows that several of the docs listed refer to what I was looking for, in the form of tabled summaries or forms, or longer explanations, but I haven’t yet isolated the particular ref that tables both the feedback categories and some of the reasoning. It’s not a big issue, as the assessment careers site you refer to provides quite comprehensive coverage. Thanks again, Meg

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