Tag Archives: eas11

Shane Sutherland- Personalising the Assessment Experience: PebblePad⤴

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I like PebblePad. Why? Institutionally provided, personally controlled.
Shane Sutherland’s seminar on @PebblePad was extremely informative; and amusing for those of us paying close enough attention to spot his play on ‘student’ names, Atrick, Jerry, was my personal favourite. Composing myself enough that I didn’t share this humour with my best friend during his presentation, I was soon fully engaged in PebblePad and the wonders it holds.
My favourite aspect of the PebblePad ePortfolio was its adaptability. At the very start of the seminar, Shane commented that at all times you must know your audience, PebblePad allows you to pick and choose who you share information with, ensuring that certain things remain private between student and tutor, or can go public across the entire web, or you can simply save work for your own personal viewing; sending it on only when you are happy with it. In this sense PebblePad is almost like a personal PC on the web, hugely beneficial with information being able to be picked up, edited, saved and shared anywhere. The really great thing about controlling the content of your PebblePad is that it can potentially be used in all aspects of your life; personal, educational and professional.
In terms of eAssessment, PebblePad allows a student to submit a ‘working progress’ for feedback and advice from tutors; this not only enhancing the students learning curve, it allows the tutor to assess based on personal development. Feedback is instantaneous and the student can reply to the feedback for additional support, clarification, or to simply say ‘thanks’. These may all sound like fairly simply tools, but, as a recent graduate, I can assure you these simple forms of communication between tutor and student make a huge difference to a person’s learning experience; it’s nice just knowing that support is there.
I am also a huge fan of the fact that assessments are sent to tutors via links rather than PDF. This allows students to correct stupid errors that were missed when the assignment was first handed in without having to send the ‘Please ignore the first submission…’ e-mail; the link simply takes the tutor to the most recently saved piece of work! I did however wonder if the updates recorded date and time; I can imagine a lot of students would like to think they could get away with slyly updating a piece of work after the deadline…

Pamela Kato- “No Sweat” Simulating Stress for Young Doctors⤴

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As a researcher for technology relating specifically to Primary and Secondary education, Pamela Kato’s (@pamkato) keynote was, I confess, one that I considered skipping. But, coffee in hand, I found myself sitting second row… and after about 20 seconds the coffee was all but forgotten. Like all the keynote speakers of the day Dr. Kato was vibrant and exciting; and ever so slightly terrifying with her comparison of deaths resulting from medical errors, in the US alone, being the equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every day of the year- on the plus side I think she cured my fear of flying!
Dr Kato is, for all intents and purposes, a psychologist. Being intrigued by the above statistic, as many would be I am sure, she investigated the root causes of such medical errors, and while at times knowledge is a factor, the overwhelming factor is stress. Solution? Computer games!
My foray into the medical world doesn’t extend past the board game Operation, but I remember the stress well. Hands shaking, brow sweating, the pressure mounting to get that rubber band (do you remember the rubber band? It was the worst!) out without the earth shatter beeeeeeep that meant you had hit the metal wall…. consider that in real life; no longer 5, sitting in the comfort of your own home, playing with friends, but in the operating room with an actual life in your hands. Yeah, I can imagine there would be oodles of pressure. Enter Air Medic Sky 1, the grown-up, more serious Operation.
The interaction that the game allows amazed me. I loved that there was still fantasy, rather than a mega serious hospital mode, Air Medic Sky 1, is, surprisingly enough, set in the sky. The game face is beautiful and as realistic as I can imagine a computer game being. As Dr. Kato said, if the game isn’t fun, no one will play it and no one will learn. She expressed awe that institutions wanted to use this game for assessment purposes; I found no shock in this request, the game is the perfect learning tool and assessment platform. It promotes no stress learning; trial and error without consequences. This can only ever be a good thing; no an amazing thing! If students- from any academic area- can learn and be assessed without stress they will undoubtedly be more confident when they face the situation in the real world. I would never suggest that the virtual world should completely take over the real world for learning environments (especially in the medical profession! I like to know my doctor has treated an actual human before) but a combination of the virtual and real world, I believe, is the perfect concoction.
As a Law student, I was lucky enough to volunteer for the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux; the experience was invaluable, but I was dealing with real people and real problems. My first day (and my second and third…) was terrifying. However, I was also very fortunate to have a forward thinking, unique, creative lecturer who for two years in a row had us take on the role of a United Nations country and fight out their case in a mock Security Council setting. Not exactly virtual, but still I had the real life, without fear or repercussion (apart from a bad grade) experience. This type of learning and assessment is crucial for everything from preparation for the real world, confidence building, to successful learning (I received my best grade in this class).
I loved Pamela Kato’s keynote; it invited questions and ideas that I could never have imagined… and a desire to play computer games that I never had before….

Positive Learning⤴

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eAssessment Scotland was definitely a successful first conference. I left exhausted but excited and inspired; we really could make a difference. I came away with hundreds of questions that only continued to multiply- the sure sign of lessons learned. From everything I absorbed one word stands out like a Times Square billboard: Feedback.
Every aspect of the conference, whether intentional or not, spoke of the importance of feedback. Specifically positive feedback. Children are taught that failing is failing, rather than being encouraged that everything is a learning curve, failing is always learning. In the adult world mistakes will almost always have consequences, sometimes grave ones, but at the end of the day it’s how we deal with these mistakes that defines us, it’s the lessons taken from the errors that count. If we keep saying WRONG WRONG INCORRECT INCORRECT children will never learn.
I have been taking my Yorkshire Terrier puppy to training classes, and the first thing we learned was never shout at the puppy, never tell it off for doing something wrong. Why? Because it doesn’t understand; shouting at your puppy only has the effect of scaring it and builds negative connotations towards you, the owner. The second thing we learned was praise. Every time the puppy does something well you give it a treat, if it does something wrong you encourage it, very enthusiastically, to do the correct action; positive feedback. Gradually my puppy is learning, he understands the treat process and enjoys the praise to the point he now follows me around the house to perform tricks for me. People do this with their animals every day.  I have an extremely hard time understanding why schools are incapable of doing the same for their students. Negative feedback makes no sense to a child other than I’m in trouble, but more than that, nothing a child does in the classroom should be considered wrong, they are in school to learn, to make errors in a controlled environment and learn how to turn a mistake around.
‘Fail’ should be removed from educators’ vocabulary- better yet all vocabulary. It’s an ugly word and it teaches nothing; except failure.

Becka Colley – Please Sir, May I Have More Exams?⤴

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The second keynote of the morning blended perfectly into where Steve had left off. In keeping with the light-hearted nature of first keynote, Becka was funny and easy to warm to; but still there was an in-depth passion to her presentation and fire in her eyes. Put simply she can only be described as an avid campaigner for assessment evolution; exam and assessment environments need to change for student progression.
Aiming high for a future of exams taken on a Smartphone while doing the shopping, I instantly liked Becka’s angle; 21st Century learning, something we currently lack in the worst way.

Citing studies that prove students need real life learning situations, Becka deplored regimental exams (I will forever have a fear of rickety wooden table filed rooms) and begged for continuous assessment that focuses on the skills students are meant to gain from school- something they are currently missing the point of. In school you are expected to perform well, so you study, you cram and you get the grades, but there is always the nag of why are we doing this? This needs to change. Students need to be briefed on why they are being examined, how they should prepare, and what they should take away from the experience, otherwise learning becomes short-term. Continuous assessment, based on the day to day performance and improvement of students is the only way to move forward.

Why does the current exam and assessment method not work? Because it ignores improvement, creativity, effort, individualism, thought process, opinion… the list could go on and on. The current mode of assessment fails to see the person sitting the paper. This is why that person is failing. Not because they do not understand, but because the examiner, the educator, has failed to understand.

The skills gained at school are essential. The knowledge is important, but the skills to find that knowledge will follow you through life; they are what should be assessed. Because anyone could memorise a textbook; that doesn’t mean they can apply the information to a real life situation.   

eAssessment Scotland. Friday 26th August. Dundee. My first ever conference.⤴

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New suit on- tags only removed that morning- briefcase complete with multiple pens, highlighters, notebooks and laptop, and handbag full to the brim with just-in-case essentials; water, tissues, snacks, filofax, smartphone, more pens… I was over prepared. But it was my first conference. I had no idea what to expect. The free coffee on tap was a welcome surprise.

The first half hour was… daunting. The words small fish in a big pond had never meant more to me. I picked up some leaflets to fill the third bag I had accumulated on arrival. I made a mental note of those I wanted to speak with when my confidence finally kicked in and I made sure I knew where I was going before I had to go there.

09.30; show time. I must admit I was excited. Giddy, you might say; a child thrown from University into the adult world. Entering Lecture Theatre 3 was like being embrace in a safety blanket, lecture theatres were my turf. I did have to endure the odd “You must be the youngest person in the room” and yes I was intimidated by the professionals surrounding me, until Steve Wheeler started to speak. I was enthralled instantly, having loved the eloquence and wit of his Blog I was thrilled to see the same shine through in his presentation. When he asked the room if they had heard of Cathy Davidson’s new book, Now You See It, I knew I had earned my seat, while most around me had furrowed brows that could only mean ‘no’, I raised my hand timidly, smiling proudly, that not only had I heard of the book I had done a great deal of research on it and its author. Confidence was building, doubt was easing.

11.00; Lego time! I had signed up to the Lego NXT Robot workshop, and I was very excited about it. Living Marc Prensky’s Digital Immigrants I was quickly put to IT shame by the 10 year old helpers within the group. My robot would do nothing I wanted it to; my helper had it moving in a perfect square and declaring “Good job” in no time. The curriculum possibilities that these robots allowed for amazed me just as much as the children who programmed them.

12.30. After having my Lego robot prised from my unwilling hands it was time for lunch. As everyone mingled I knew I had to ignore the fear and discover. Working my way around the stalls, PebblePad, Televic Education, Question Mark (headline sponsor), eCom Scotland etc etc, I talked, I perused, I learned, I made contacts. Then I ate; lunch was really good!

13.30; back to the lecture theatre. Pamela Kato’s keynote was the highlight of the conference for me (topped only by her following me on Twitter!). Her presentation was funny, engaging and surprising. Never would I have thought that Serious Games for student doctors could relate so much to the needs of primary and secondary education in Scotland.

14.10; ePortfolios. Disappointed that I never secured a spot in the App App and Away workshop I went into the afternoon seminars with little expectation. I came out buzzing with hundreds of new ideas and the opportunities that ePortfolios offer. Shane Sutherland, PebblePad, and Gordon McLeod, Mahara, offered enthusiastic, informative presentations.

Unfortunately at 15.30 I had to leave; train to catch. I left the conference exhausted but highly enthused. My brand new suit was well worn in, the jacket long abandoned and stuffed in one of my many bags; I was strongly regretting taking my laptop (and several other contents of my bags) but still I was smiling. I got on the train looking a little worse for wear but the notebook was straight back out and the ideas were flowing….
Detailed Blogs of all events to follow.