During the lunch break I was able to have a quick chat with Mark Stubbs from the TRAFFIC project (follow this link to his famous poem) about data and analytical methodologies so it was great to make that connect. I came away feeling relieved that we weren’t drowning in quite the volume of data that they have! Very impressive work indeed.
Neil Ringan from Manchester Met U kicked off after lunch talking about the TRAFFIC project. The life cycle that they have built really is a great structure and is something that I know a lot of others in the room found incredibly useful. They had strategically left paper copies of the life cycle for people to take home with them at the end of the day and many delegates were grabbing them with enthusiasm as they left in the afternoon. It has strong resonances with our own work-flow but makes the cyclical nature of it much more apparent in its pedagogical as well as its administrative function. The whole time I was whispering to Brian from Sheffield Hallam U (who was seated to my right) about the synergies between their and our respective research into feedback and feedforward. We both agreed that a follow up HEA event on those specifical issues was worth pursuing. This is the area which the TRAFFIC folks acknowledge is the area which needs the most development and Brian and I are both thinking that the analytics/analysis work that we’re pursuing might fill that gap.
Matt Newcombe from Exeter U presented on the Building block that they have constructed to embed Grademark within Moodle. Basically what they’ve done (although it’s much more complicated than this) is build a double marking structure to sit around Grademark/Turnitin. It really does solve those problems that UK HEIs face and those institutions which are on Moodle will no doubt find this very useful indeed. Matt’s presentation did alleviate some of my concerns about the wisdom of going for an institutional tool-based solution. The fact that Grademark is really offering a kind of ‘engine room’ at the core of it makes a lot of sense as they are not going to have to wear the sustainability costs for that.
The action planning discussion we had was with colleagues from various institutions and there was a significant discrepancy in experience and (for want of a better word) institutional maturity of eSubmission in the group I was in. But we had some interesting discussions. One thing we decided on was that the ‘rough and ready’ data that HELF is able to generate each year (as presented by Barbara at the start of the day) is sufficient for our needs and we don’t necessarily need to go to the expense of making it more granular at this stage. Also – using opportunities like the HEA Change Academy to support these kinds of processes is a good strategy to pursue.
I made a little pitch at the end of the day for us to consider our TLA (Three Letter Acronym) EAM as a catch all term for what we are working on. There seemed to be general consensus that this was helpful.
Final reflections: the most beneficial thing for me in attending was getting a clearer sense of where we sit in relation to other institutions. Barbara used the metaphor of a wave to describe the results of the survey (and she did admit that it didn’t entirely fit what she was trying to say). I think the work we’re evaluating in EBEAM is very much the foam on the edge of the wave and it’s comforting to know how far advanced we are on this matter.
The issue of anonymous marking and the various complexities of double/external marking at other institutions is a reminder that there is never going to be an adequate one-size-fits-all solution to our needs. What we need, however, are more tools we can use to suit our needs and construct workarounds.