Taking tea with e-assessment strategists

I spent yesterday in central London at a joint meeting between JISC and the Higher Education Academy. The aim of the event was to explore ways in which the two bodies, who both have responsibilities for differing aspects of Higher Education, could collaborate strategically. The discussions focused on e-assessment: the process of using more automated and computer-based methods for measuring student attainment, progress and testing. Of interest to me were the debates around the use of new technologies in these areas and in particular discussion of the potential for Web 2.0 and social software.

This throws up interesting issues, for example, if a class works together on a wiki about a subject, how can the marks be divided up fairly? One speaker pointed out that different subjects have different views on the use and uptake of automated assessment, explaining that, for example, Philosophy lecturers have not, to date, seen the benefit of using such methods as they rely so heavily on the essay as a form of assessment. Other speakers took up this theme and argued that although this was an issue it was at least partly because too many academics see e-assessment as being all about the use of what is called in the jargon MCQ (or ‘multiple choice’ to you and I).

The venue for the event was the magnificent, neo-classical, One Great George Street, just a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament (although stone throwing is not actually allowed, for obvious reasons). The venue is partly home to the Institute of Civil Engineers and they had laid on a reasonable lunch including roast vegetable frittatas and chocolate fudge cake. However, I was most impressed by an exquisite range of herbal teas from the Mighty Tea Leaf Company which came in an interesting range of flavours and each in a large muslin pouch (rather than a mere paper bag) which contributed to an enhanced brew. As far as I can see from their website they are not fair traded, so I won’t be able to justify buying them, but if you ever come across them at functions or tea shops I can recommend the green tea.

I have to say that I was rather surprised and pleased to find such attention to tea detail at the Institute of Civil Engineers, as, generally speaking, civil engineers are not renown for their appreciation of fine tea. Is this a sign of changing times?


3 Responses to “Taking tea with e-assessment strategists”

  1. Alan Carter-Davies Says:

    Nice description of the tea and the architecture but where was the lunch menu?
    Are the panel trialing different takes on e-assessment to see if they actually differ greatly?
    Enough questions already

  2. pdanderson Says:

    Good question. I believe there is a lot of work going on with higher education on looking at different forms of assessment. There is much, much more detail at JISC’s e-assessment pages (www.jisc.ac.uk/assessment.html).

  3. David Anderson Says:

    Actually its the Institution of Civil Engineers!

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