Author Archives: hollysmith

JISC Experts Meeting

On 23 April I attended the JISC Learning and Teaching Practice Experts Group meeting in Birmingham, an opportunity for those involved in JISC projects past and present to get together and share experiences.

There were many contributions but I was particularly interested in the Assessment and Feedback Strand B project ‘The Evaluation of Assessment Diaries and Grademark’ which Alice Lao spoke about. The survey of 250 students and 18 staff interviews following 4 years of implementation seemed to illustrate many of the issues with how technology does or doesn’t work with established practices.

So for example the Assessment Diary software sometimes disrupted existing practice, in a good way, by prompting reflection at a programme team level on the phenomenon of ‘assessment bunching’. Conversely, where staff see it as yet another administrative chore and don’t complete it fully or on time, and didn’t induct students on how to use the functions for accessing their online feedback the whole thing fell down.

So more on this at their project blog and the final report is available from JISC But my personal conclusion was that humans are the key to all technology!

tools to support assessment careers

Today I attended the webinar hosted by the  JISC Assessment and feedback project at Glamorgan

I was particularly interested in their evaluation of the Grademark tool for feedback, which is part of Turnitin. There are some nice video of tutors using the tool and reflecting on how they found the experience at

I had come away from the 17/18  Oct JISC events in Birmingham feeling that our Assessment Careers project was part of a wider shift in emphasis in the sector towards longitudinal feedback. I speculate that 15 years ago there was a big drive for writing clear learning outcomes for programmes, for modularisation and breaking down programmes in order to increase transparency for students. Now these aims have largely been achieved, but it feels like there is some disquiet about what may have been lost, in terms of the holistic and developmental nature of programmes. So, maybe now the pendulum has swung back and many of us want to enable a developmental trajectory for students through their programme of study, rather than taking a smorgasbord of modules.

In Birmingham I found many JISC projects were also looking at how students can take feedback from one module forward into the next, to develop their ‘assessment careers’,  so this has given us a shopping list of tools to investigate:

1. The InterACT project at Dundee is doing exactly what we want to do; every piece of feedback students receive over a programme is in one place with prompts for reflection on it. They used Moodle wiki’s as blogs are not programme specific, but it works well so we thought this was really worth looking at.

2. Assessment Diaries includes an evaluation of Grademark as part of Turnitin (Glamorgan)

3. Open Coursework Management (Exeter)

4. Lightwork

5. Portfolio software like Mahara