A New Year for WISEflow and its Users

AYING FAREWELL TO 2018

A GOOD ENDING MAKES A GREAT BEGINNING

It’s 2019, the start of an entire new year, and many exciting events await for UNIwise, WISEflow and its users.

But before we direct our gaze towards the year ahead, let’s take a look back at 2018. The past year was an eventful one as well, with many new educational institutions added to the list of WISEflow users, much new and improved functionality and global bewilderment on what GDPR actually meant.

New WISEflow users in 2018

In 2018, we broke our record once again, with 1.5 million exams conducted in WISEflow – a 36% increase compared to 2017. Both summer and winter exams set a new record for daily users, exceeding 30.000 concurrent users on peak exam days.

We also made a lot of headway with new users of WISEflow.

In Sweden, we closed 2018 by winning three new tenders: the University of Borås, the University of Linköping and Kammarkollegiet (the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency in Sweden). We look forward to a good working relationship and making more Swedish friends in the future.

On our home turf, we re-won the tender for the Danish University Colleges, extending our partnership for another four years. With this agreement in place, UNIwise continues to deliver to more than 80% of higher education institutions in Denmark.

We also secured contracts with the Danish National Academy of Music, the Rhythmic Music Conservatory, the vocational and technical school EUC Nordvestsjælland and Marstal Maritime Academy.

In Norway, Kristiania University College chose to switch to WISEflow. This decision followed a one-year comparative project between WISEflow and their former exam and assessment solution, in which WISEflow was chosen as the superior platform. Kristiania University College emphasised that WISEflow was more secure, had better support and service, provided greater flexibility and had more functionality, better suited for the needs of higher education.

Furthermore, we added University College of Norwegian Correctional Service and the technical college Tinius Olsen to the list of WISEflow users.

To the west, we experienced a significant rise in the interest in WISEflow. In a mix of won tenders and pilot programmes, we have initiated working relationships with a further five UK-based universities: Sheffield Hallam University, Imperial College London, Newcastle University, University of Northampton and University of Surrey. We also added the first UK boarding school, St. John’s School Leatherhead.

Improved support for your workflow

Functionality is a vital part of the WISEflow user experience, and 2018 was dedicated to making that experience even better.

Our developers had a very productive year, releasing some exciting functionality in 2018 that can enhance exams and assessment for exam administrators, assessors and students.

To support our goal of increasing the transparency of exams and the possibility of providing better feedback to students, we released Rubrics in the spring of 2018. Rubrics is a great educational asset for both assessors and students, formalising assessment criteria in an easily decipherable assessment matrix. By using Rubrics, educational institutions can improve the transparency, consistency and alignment of their exam and assessment process, while also providing a basis for structured feedback.

We took our first major steps towards expanding digital on-site exams to include third party resources and online services. With the Whitelisting functionality, educational institutions can new conduct secure digital on-site exams while still providing access to necessary applications, such as online code editors or advanced calculator or spreadsheet applications. Whitelisting allows for new uses of WISEflow in several different kinds of exams, including computer science, maths and economics, while keeping the integrity of the secure protocols of the exam intact.

We also made significant advances regarding integration, as we improved the integration possibilities for BlackBoard, Canvas, Moodle and others through Question Import.

Communication is an essential activity in exams and assessment, which is why we developed a new message center with more opportunity for customisation for the individual educational institutions.

With Copy Flow, we have made management much easier for exam administrators. As an exam administrator, you can copy your flows and flows where you have been added as a manager.

These were only some of the many new additions to WISEflow during the two major releases of 2018. With all the new functionalities, WISEflow has been made even more workflow-supportive. We hope our users enjoys these changes in their daily work.

2018 was also the year of GDPR and the compliance to this regulatory framework was the subject line of most emails sent around May. For the WISEflow platform, changes were few to none, as WISEflow has been developed according to the principle of ‘privacy by design’ since its inception, and always uses anonymised data and does not use PII (Personal Identifiable Information).

Looking forward: What does 2019 have in store for WISEflow?

With the rise in interest from the UK, we expect to start an independent office and R&D-center in the UK in the first half of 2019. The purpose of this is to have better and closer contact and support to the growing number of UK institutions using WISEflow. The new UK office also permits our Scandinavian offices to provide more undivided attention to our Scandinavian and German users.

2019 will also be the last year of our research and development project OMAP (Online Massive Assess

ment Platform). In collaboration with Korean WeDu Communications and Centre for Teaching and Learning, Aarhus University, the project has aimed to create high end authentication and learning analytics functionality for WISEflow. The result of this project will among others be:

• Facial Recognition: In the future, facial recognition technology will be instituted in WISEflow, making authentication both incredibly fast and easy and additionally secure. This way it becomes even easier to conduct secure on-site digital exams for a massive number of students.

• Research-based Learning Analytics: Student exam activity generates a large amount of data and we have been working hard on how to utilise this information to the greatest benefit of students and educational institutions. One of the approaches we have undertaken is to look into learning strategies and their relevance for exam. Based on data regarding student study habits and preparations before exams, used exam forms and achieved results of exams, we are currently investigating the relevance of such data for individual and institution, as well as the proper feedback this can instigate. This is done together with Centre for Teaching and Learning, Aarhus University.

Mark your calendars for September 2019

As a final reveal, we will be hosting a major event in September: WISECON 2019.

WISECON 2019 will be an international WISEflow user conference for our customers and partners, taking place on the 4th and 5th of September 2019.

We are currently hard at work creating an exciting two-day program for our guests. We will not reveal the location just yet, but it is a quite unusual venue – its number of bricks is considerably higher than other buildings…

Thank you for an inspiring year

2018 was the most exciting year yet for UNIwise, and we would like to say thank you to all of our users.

We look forward to another year, breaking even more records and providing our users with an even better work and learning experience.

We also look forward to a year of new friends, new offices, new functionality and most of all: seeing you all to WISECON in September.

 

Best wishes for 2019,

Steffen Skovfoged and Rasmus Blok,

Founders and Executive Directors at UNIwise

[Link]
https://uniwise.dk/2019/01/14/a-new-year-for-wiseflow-and-its-users-2/

Digital Assessment: The Difference Between WISEflow and LMS/VLE

EMA. Onscreen marking. Digital assessments. E-submission, e-exams and e-marking.

The list could easily go on.

There is an abundance of words and abbreviations to describe a digital exam and assessment platform like WISEflow. Some words cover singular functionalities within the platform, while others – like EMA (Electronic Management of Assessments) – describe the broader scope of what WISEflow can do for your educational institution.

There are also words that are inadequate or incorrect in describing what a digital exam and assessment platform actually is. Examples of these are LMS (Learning Management System) and VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). Despite of this, we often hear them used to describe WISEflow.

 

What Is an LMS/VLE?

LMSs and VLEs are terms that are used interchangeably to describe software solutions that allow you to manage and deliver learning resources and online training to the end users (students, in an educational setting).

The main purpose is to track learning objectives with the point of demonstrating a compliance or mastery of a given skillset or within a specific area of knowledge. This sort of platform has found favour in several industries other than education, especially in larger companies, as a way to onboard and continually train employees within a defined frame of knowledge or knowhow.

Some LMSs/VLEs apply more pedagogical approaches, such as collaboration, dialogue and/or participation, user-generated wikis, blogs and RSS, all with the overall purpose of facilitating learning, but at many educational institutions, LMSs and VLEs are often used as ‘post offices’, simply to distribute reading material and curricula to students.

LMSs and VLEs can be used in many ways, depending on the institution that uses them, the point of the use and the capabilities of those implementing them. But however you use these tools, they are not geared towards assessment. While some LMSs and VLEs are built with the technical framework to offer exam-like quizzes in an online setting, they often possess serious security vulnerabilities and stability issues for exams – not to mention the lack in functionalities that support the exam and assessment processes as a whole.

 

How Are They Different from WISEflow?

WISEflow is an easy-to-use assessment platform with advanced capabilities. The focus of WISEflow is not just to manage and distribute content, but to successfully manage and support the entire process of online assessment for every stakeholder involved.

Still wondering about the difference? Here are six to start you out with:

 

1: Assessments for Higher Education Standards

Some VLEs or LMSs allow educators to create quizzes based on the uploaded learning resources. And while this can be a great tool to monitor progress or approach to learning in a different manner than usual, it does not meet the standards of an exam in a higher education setting. For example, while a VLE-quiz can test the recall of students, testing their understanding and capabilities necessitates more complex formats.

With WISEflow, student learning can be facilitated in many different formats and for many different academic requirements, such as academic disciplines with a practical dimension, i.e. arts-based courses, where students’ craftmanship, performance or creation is the focal point of assessment.

For musical performances, for example, the exam can be streamed as a live performance, simulating the circumstances of a traditional musical performance exam, with all the digital benefits added in the assessment process.

For science-based exams, WISEflow’s question templates can contain graphs, charts, chemical symbols and formulae and math questions that can be answered with LaTeX and MathML

Meanwhile, WISEflow is still able to perform recall exams with multiple choice for both open book and locked down exams, or other knowledge retention tests, such as ‘fill in the blank’ with either missing text, images, graphs, formulae or sound clips.

 

2: Important Security Measures for Exams and Assessments

Other than the limited scope of possibilities to test students in different academic disciplines, a simple quiz also lacks the framework to uphold the security measures that a higher education exam warrants.

Look at it this way: the currency of institutions of higher education is their exams, as they are the way to a bachelor’s or master’s degree; it is the way to earn the credentials of this particular educational institution. It is important that these degrees have been earned in a controlled environment, lest the validity of this currency is harmed, or it suffers inflation or devaluation.

WISEflow offers thorough security measures to uphold the integrity of exams in higher education. As a proactive measure we use a lockdown browser for closed book exams, rendering any other webpages and locally stored desktop files or programs inaccessible for the duration of the exam. Online resources deemed necessary by the exam creator can be whitelisted, meaning they are the only web resource accessible during the exam.

For reactive measures we employ a plagiarism checker, scanning all exam submissions for plagiarised sections or sentiments before they are forwarded to the assigned assessor, who gets the exam paper along with a plagiarism report, indicating whether further investigation is advised. Exam submissions are scanned against internet resources, academic articles and previously submitted material.

 

3: The Necessary Stability for High Stakes Activities

Other than security, the exam and assessment procedures are dependent upon stability. The loss of student work is a worst-case scenario, which means fail-safes are a must.

If you try to conduct any sort of exam in an LMS or a VLE, you run the risk of losing vital exam material produced by the student, as these portals are not necessarily geared towards managing this function with the appropriate reliability, should any mishaps occur.

Contrary to a traditional local server setup, the safety and stability of WISEflow is ensured with cloud-hosting. By storing all data in the cloud, your exams are handled by a three-point redundancy setup, making sure all information is kept safe at all times, no matter what disaster might occur.

During the exam itself, some exam and assessment platforms rely on a completely offline setup to make sure no material is lost. In WISEflow, the exam takes place online, but our platform still maintains that same level of stability as offline exams. Should the wi-fi suddenly cut out during the exam, the document is automatically backed up locally on the student’s own computer. Once wi-fi connection is re-established, all data produced after the loss of connection will back up to the cloud once again.

This setup allows us to provide functionalities that can enhance the exam for all roles, such as access to online resources and a seamless transition to the administrative aftermath, while still saving you any worry about “what if”.

 

4: Specific User Roles

WISEflow also approaches the exam and assessment process from an academic point of view, rather than a purely administrative one. Among other things, this is reflected in the different user roles on the platform, where each and every link in the assessment process is being assigned a role with the tools that best suit it. This too sets WISEflow apart from LMSs and VLEs.

Whether you are a student, sitting your exams, or an educator responsible for either creating or assessing exams (or both), WISEflow has modules with the right roles and the tailored tools to support your specific task. 

With more than 50 templates, WISEflow provides a great starting point for exam creators to author any form of exam. Use the customisable templates to quickly set up exams in a broad range of subjects exactly the way you want them. And every time you set up an exam, you are helping yourself towards a faster and easier process next time, as our content bank allows you to reuse elements from previous exams and customise them to fit a new curriculum, creating your own customised templates.

For assessors, WISEflow provides an assortment of tools and functionalities to ease the task and improve the feedback. When exams arrive, they have already been scanned for plagiarism and arrive with a report pointing out potential instances for further scrutiny.

Besides automated marking for exams with multiple-choice and short answer questions, WISEflow also offers features that enhance manual assessment. In the Annotate module for educators given the assessor role, you can highlight, underline, draw and comment as usual, and even search for specific words or terms in the exam. For commenting, you can add comments towards the student, towards co-assessors or add your own private comments.

WISEflow supports a customisable anonymity, which enables both blind and double-blind marking. The exam administration can keep close tabs on exam submissions and assessment progress, while students and assessors remain anonymous towards each other.

Assessment and feedback on their academic performance and progress is often one of the things students crave the most, but not receiving as satisfactorily as other areas of their education, according to the 2017 NSS. While assessors strive to provide proper feedback to the students, the traditional assessment process is very time-consuming. By digitising your exams, you are equipping your assessors with exactly the resource they lack most to provide students with more feedback: time.

Besides automatic scoring and plagiarism checkers other time-related advantages apply. With WISEflow, no time is spent shuffling papers and deciphering the illegible scribbles of students, whose handwriting has greatly deteriorated (Cambridge University has considered ending 800 years of handwritten exams due to the poor state of student penmanship, favouring typed exams in the future). Instead, as an assessor you get more time to actually comment on the students’ performances and provide thorough feedback for students to monitor and improve their own learning.

 

5: External Assessment, Anonymity and Student Grouping for Assessments

One thing LMSs/VLEs have struggled with is external assessment.

Keeping student information safe and guarding it from unnecessary exchanges is a very important task for educational institutions. At the same time, assessments often require assessors from outside of the educational institution to mark and grade exams, and this requires access to the students’ relevant exam material. There is a fine balance between these necessities, and this is one thing LMSs/VLEs have struggled with through time – especially if used in exam-conditions.

Providing access to external assessors is necessary but should happen on the educational institution’s own terms. This requires specific roles with specific functions and limitations, so a clear line is drawn between assessment and assisting distribution of information (which is the basic function of LMSs/VLEs).

And the core function of LMSs/VLEs adds other issues to an assessment process – such as the need for anonymity. This has also been troublesome for these systems to provide adequately, as they often segment students in classes. This sort of grouping relates well to the relevant functionalities within the system, such as distributing relevant reading material, assignments or quizzes to specific classes/courses, but does not support anonymity as ably.

The issue at hand becomes much the same is the external assessor-business. LMSs/VLEs have often been lacking the roles and functionalities to nuance between distributing information as freely as possible and restricting information relating to specific exam-segments of students. Anonymous assessment is often required as a means to either secure an unbiased assessment, free from influence from student history and/or previous submissions. It can also be necessary the other way around, so that assessors are anonymous to students – or even both ways.

Both issues are still relevant in higher education today. The safekeeping of student data is more important than ever, and anonymity will always be a necessary part of assessment. And while some LMSs/VLEs have found a solution by offering external modules with a larger focus on assessment, thereby both separating the role of external assessor and providing a better starting point for anonymity, this solution adds to the existing costs of running an LMS/VLE.

There are other reasons the sorting and segmentation of students in classes does not translate well for assessment purposes. For example, there is not necessarily a correlation between a class of students and the group of students taking a specific exam. A single exam can have students from multiple years, as some might be retaking the course, some might be taking it at different times in their education, while others yet are taking it at the point planned in their course catalogue. This means that students – while being in the same course or class – can be taking very different exams or meeting different criteria for the exam in question.

For an assessment platform like WISEflow, the grouping of students works the other way around, as the assessment is the focal point, meaning students are segmented by their exams and the exam flows they are connected to. This allows for a streamlined exam and assessment administration, no matter how intricate the composition of students sitting their exams is.

Assessments being the core task of WISEflow also means that roles and functionalities that support anonymous marking and grading are given a much more granulated approach. In WISEflow, you have the opportunity to tailor anonymity to suit the specific requirements of your exam.

 

6: Rubrics: Measuring Learning Outcomes

While an electronic portal that allows educators to deliver learning resources to students is a great tool to support learning and learning outcomes, it is beyond most VLEs or LMSs to actually measure the success of these outcomes.

With WISEflow, it becomes much easier for learning outcomes to be aligned with the course’s final exam. Rubrics in WISEflow allows you to create an assessment matrix; a grid with detailed explanations of which criteria the student must comply with in the exam, the weight of these criteria and to what value the criteria has been met by the student’s performance. Once filled out by the assessor, the score is calculated automatically and converted to a final grade.

With this tool in your digital assessment setup, it becomes straightforward to ensure greater transparency, more consistency and a better alignment in your exams.

And alignment is paramount, when it comes to digitisation in education. When students use internet resources and applications, obtain knowledge through a multitude of formats and even have their courses managed digitally by said LMSs/VLEs, student learning is heavily impacted by these digital advances and the methods they use in their studies change according to this advance.

If student learning is undergoing change, change is also necessary for the learning outcomes and the means to measure their success. Digital learning and analogue testing are not compatible.

 

It Is Still Administrative – Just More than That

There are a lot of differences between the functionalities and overall purpose of LMSs/VLEs and an assessment platform such as WISEflow, the above being only some of them. But one overlapping area exists, and it might be this one that contributes to the confusion between the systems. Because WISEflow does have an administrative function and exam administrators have a large role within the use of WISEflow.

Overall, the role of the exam administration does not change by implementing a digital assessment platform. Of course, there will be new skills that need to be learned and some adapting is required, as is with any change, but the area of responsibility remains largely the same: the primary work of exam administrators is before and after the exam itself, as they are responsible for setting up the exam flows (the framework for individual exams) and managing the grading process post-submission, to make sure everything goes smoothly.

LMSs and VLEs have very specific purposes in the multitude of digital systems that exist in modern higher education and WISEflow is not a replacement of or competitor to your existing LMS/VLE. It is a completely different platform that eases the administration and enhances and supports the academic content within one specific area: exams and assessments. WISEflow integrates seamlessly with your LMS/VLE through our API, which means you do not need to incorporate further administrative steps to transfer documentation.

So yes, we do make administration easier and provide more functionality within that area of education, just as an LMS or a VLE. But we are also much more than that.

 

Focus on Academia and the Facilitation of Learning

As an assessment platform, WISEflow is heavily influenced by the academic environment and the different groups it consists of. For us as providers of a digital exam and assessment platform, this requires a development focus of something other than administration alone.

This is why we include pedagogy, approaches to learn, communication and feedback to ensure the best possible experience for the different academic user groups. And we know a thing or two about academic best-practices, as it is a part of our DNA; we originated from higher education ourselves. We have held the positions in each and every academic grouping involved in the exam and assessment process, and we apply that insight to the continuous development of WISEflow.

We view the exam and assessment process as a circular motion with one central academic end goal: to have a positive impact on student learning. And while this assessment cycle is simple in its own right, going through assessment, feedback, reflection and improvement, it becomes much more abstract when applied to real life, as the assessment process is influenced by a multitude of factors.

To ensure this positive impact and provide the best possible support for an effective assessment cycle, WISEflow offers a number of functionalities. Aside from tools to effectuate a faster assessment and the assessment matrix Rubrics to ensure transparency

and consistency for both the student and the assessors, it focuses on providing a platform for proper feedback. The communication between student and assessor, with the student’s exam submission at the centre, can to a much higher degree be made dialogical using modern means of communication, rather than the traditional unidirectional feedback. This ensures that the assessment cycle runs smoother and with a greater output in improving student learning.

By employing a platform designated to exams and assessments, a greater informational output on these activities also becomes available to the educational institution. An immense amount of data is produced during exams and assessments and these analytics can provide valuable insight into teaching methods and their effectiveness and serve as a tool to reflect on and improve the existing exam and assessment practices, while also providing a realtime view of how students are performing during exams.

 

“Do We Really Need Another IT-System?”

Educational institutions already have many different systems beside LMSs and VLEs, such as Student Administrations Systems or CRMs. So, you might wonder why you need to incorporate yet another system in the IT jungle.

First and foremost, because Electronic Management of Assessment offers something very different than your existing systems.

In summation: assessment platforms such as WISEflow can:

  • Support and enhance student learning within the assessment process.
  • Provide the quality, complexity, security and stability that is needed to perform exams to the academic standards of higher education.
  • Support every stake-holder in the exam and assessment process – including the exam administrators
  • Measure and evidence learning outcomes

And incorporating electronic assessment does not need to add more layers of tedious processes between systems. Through our API, WISEflow can integrate seamlessly with most administration systems, VLEs and LMSs used within higher education, reducing manual work processes between administration and assessment, as they can pull data directly from WISEflow.

[Link]
https://uniwise.dk/2019/01/17/wiseflow-is-not-lms-2/

Digital Literacy Is Key in Modern Higher Education

Literacy has through most of history had a pretty forward definition: the ability to read and write. And while the term has met attempts at redefinition from multiple angles, pointing out that communicating and creating meaning can be accomplished through other means than decrypting constellations of letters and performing exercises in penmanship, the traditional definition still stands strong – at least in an analog context.

Because even though the definition of literacy in a traditional sense is somewhat unyielding, the digital age is forcing an expansion of the term: digital literacy. The nature of communication, the way in which we find, manage and express information, is changing and so are the instruments with which we do it. And digital literacy is not a skill reserved for a small elite of the population. It is not about possessing IT expertise but simply being able to function – to live and work – in an increasingly digitised society. And digital literacy is also about being able to learn within the framework of modern education.

Many digital tools and methods are already a staple at educational institutions and interwoven within many  processes in higher education; from the delivery of course materials to the way we conduct research, technology resources play a pivotal part. Virtual learning environments, e-portfolio platforms, student portals etc. are all standard equipment at most higher education institutions, and it is necessary for students to consult most of these on a weekly basis.

In short, students are already exposed to and expected to engage with technology from the moment they set foot on university grounds, which places digital literacy at the forefront of indispensable skills in higher education. But how digitally literate are students really?

 

The Myth of the Digital Native

The term ‘digital native’ (coined by Marc Prensky in 2001) has been a popular label for people born sometime after the mid-eighties, ascribing this age bracket with a familiarity with and fluency in using digital tools. The expression has little empirical proof to lean on but has none the less gained much traction within the public debate, as this particular demographic have been the ones entering higher education within the past decade.

There is no doubt that digital exposure is more widespread in the younger generation, but the notion that children know how to use technology by instinct is unsupported by both science and common logic: putting fingers on an Ipad to play Minecraft might be both entertaining and educative in some way but it is hardly indicative of the ability to understand and fluently navigate the digital landscape in its entirety.

The theory of digital natives possessing inherent digital capabilities and a far better ability to multitask has been debunked repeatedly. Paul A. Kirschner and Pedro De Bruyckere’s article “The myths of the digital native and the multitasker” neatly anthologises a wide variety of scientific publications on the subject and base their conclusion on these: “As has been shown, there is quite a large body of evidence showing that the digital native does not exist nor that people, regardless of their age, can multitask” (Kirschner & De Bruyckere, 2017).

As that leaves us with increasing digitisation and a student body that might possess less evolved digital capabilities than popularly expected, developing and strengthening a digital literacy becomes a necessary part of being a student within modern education. Digital literacy is also a benefit to the educational institutions themselves, as digital developments have a monumental impact on them and the academic tradition.

 

1: A Change in Information Search Strategies

The classic movie montage-moment of a student researching something by frantically leafing through piles of dusty books in the library might be the generic image of higher education studies, but those days are past. A more fitting montage today would replace books with a laptop and a stream of Google-searches following one another.

This change in information-searching has spawned an abundance of new sources where students can seek answers, and not only to simple questions, but even answers to composite problems with a high complexity. And while this can create fantastic opportunities for students to access vast amounts of information, not all of these sources are equally valid. By simply typing a question into a search machine, they are exposed to a plethora of possible answers and sources of information, with little clue how to distinguish between what is relevant and what is not.

For many students, the search for information might overtake the process of actually understanding it, thereby impeding their learning process. The act of Googling alone does not facilitate learning in students, as they are not necessarily approaching the subject with the same critical mindset they are taught to use otherwise, and critical thinking is an invaluable skill in higher education and a necessity for higher order thinking. Taking the solo taxonomy of John Biggs as an example, it would be impossible to move from a uni-/multistructural state to the relational state (and further again) of the taxonomy without being able to objectively approach, analyse and evaluate a given issue.

But discerning between valid and invalid sources and using critical thinking online requires digital literacy: “User awareness in making these decisions largely determines the quality of the conclusions, positions, opinions, or models constructed from the information. In the absence of effective mechanisms for information evaluation, how can learners decide which of the infinite and conflicting bits of information to choose, and which to doubt?” (Eshet, 2004). Knowing how to tell viable academic sources apart from biased authors, such as private blogs, marketing articles or user-generated wikis is a necessary skill for modern students, as well as discerning how updated information is and how many other sources find it credible through linking.

With the increasing amount of ‘fake news’ currently spreading across the web, the competency to sort through the mess is incredibly valuable for students. A helpful tool in this endeavour is the aptly named ‘CRAP test’, citing currency, reliability, authority and purpose as key markers when trying to establish the credibility of a source.

The increasing amount of educational activities that take place online or involve students using devices with internet access at some point in the process also necessitates a change in strategy for the educational institutions, especially when it comes toacademic integrity during exams. Today, tools like lockdown browsers and plagiarism detectors are some of the preventative measures taken against academic misconduct in online exams.

 

2: The Possibility of Improving Learning Technology

While 2019 is the year of 1982’s dystopian tech-noir, Bladerunner, real-world technology has not yet caught up to that point of technological advancement (fortunately, I might add, as murderous bioengineered androids seem to be an altogether awful idea). But in some places, we are getting there, as last year made a leap towards AI-powered personal helpers with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, lab-grown meat went from theoretically feasible to actual business plans and researchers at the University of Cambridge created artificial embryos from stem cells.

Advanced technology has also made its entry into the halls of higher education. Augmented analytics, AI, blockchain technology, AR/VR etc. are just some of the innovations said to make an impact on education in the very near future. But just as in other areas, much of the technology intended for education is still being researched and many of the existing platforms and solutions are in continual development. This means that academics and educational institutions that wish to inspire, innovate and have an impact on this technological development are in many instances able to help shape educational technology in cooperation with its developers.

But this as well requires that the educational practitioners who are willing to participate and leave their mark on digital education are digitally literate. The pedagogical and practical contributions of educational practitioners can be invaluable to edtech companies, but to use these insights, they need to be made from practitioners who are able to see the learning potential in technology and how to actually use it in courses.

An example is our OMAP project (Online Massive Assessment Platform), which we have worked on with Centre for Teaching and Learning at Aarhus University and Korean WeDu Communications. The project has aimed to create high end authentication and learning analytics functionality for WISEflow, helping educational institutions create safer exams and get more actionable insight from student exam activity. The result of this project will among others be:

 

  • Facial Recognition: In the future, facial recognition technology will be instituted in WISEflow, making authentication both incredibly fast and easy and additionally secure. This way it becomes even easier to conduct secure on-site digital exams for a massive number of students.
  • Research-based Learning Analytics: Student exam activity generates a large amount of data and we have been working hard on how to utilise this information to the greatest benefit of students and educational institutions. One of the approaches we have undertaken is to look into learning strategies and their relevance for exam. Based on data regarding student study habits and preparations before exams, used exam forms and achieved results of exams, we are currently investigating the relevance of such data for individual and institution, as well as the proper feedback this can instigate. This is done together with Centre for Teaching and Learning, Aarhus University.

 

3: Better Employment Outcomes for Graduates

When graduates go into industry, they have a vast number of areas they can work within, but while a university graduate might not be hired for programming jobs or perform other technically complicated tasks, IT is still bound to play a large part in their professional lives. According to the European Commission report “ICT for Work: Digital Skills in the Workplace”, 93% of European work places use computers, 98% of work places require basic digital skills from their management and 90% also require these skills from professionals within the fields of science, engineering, health, teaching, business and administration, information and communications technology, legal, social or culture, which encompasses the majority of work fields that graduates are heading towards.

For graduate jobs in both the private and public sector, digital tools are used in some form or other for almost any task imaginable:

  • Company materials are typically stored and shared through document sharing services like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive.
  • Internal communication is often managed through chat functions in online collaboration tools, while external communication is managed through email clients, social media etc.
  • Production tools are found on the computer, such as the Office Suite tools for tasks like making presentations, spreadsheets or word processing.

The importance of digital literacy in relation to graduate employment also poses a social dimension. We record a massive amount of information about our personal lives on social media, which for many of us is openly accessible to the public. Learning to manage your online persona and being aware of how your online behaviour reflects on you is especially important, as recruiters are known to be using social media to vet potential applicants without informing them. And while the practice is acted against in much of the world, for example in several US states, where legislation specific to social media checking has been passed, and in Europe through the privacy compliance framework GDPR, the practice is still taking place: according to a study by CareerBuilder, 70% of employers used social media during the hiring process, with 48% of employers using social media to check up on current employees.

 

Bridging the Gap: Authentic Assessment for Digital Students

Several educational institutions already have digital literacy policies, projects or courses in place, and multiple frameworks forunderstanding, promoting and teaching digital literacy exist, making it easier for the institutions to approach digital literacy.

This can benefit a lot of students who will perform the majority of their work in a digital environment. Whether they end up working as engineers, computer scientists or lawyers, computers will be the tool of their trade. But before these digitally literate students enter a digital job market, many of them have to overcome an obstacle within the move towards employment.

During their courses, they have plenty of opportunity to flex their academic muscles within a learning environment that supports their specific skillset. Computer scientists can design, code and test different types of software to develop solutions to problems and mechanical engineering students can use CAD software to create and validate designs, but when time comes to put their prowess to the test, many educational institutions lack the possibility of replicating these learning scenarios adequately within their exam and assessment process, as this process is still based on pen and paper.

To counteract the academic contrast between digital learning and analogue exams, a digital assessment platform can provide a more authentic exam and assessment scenario that allows students to perform tasks that mirror real-world application of their theoretical knowledge and skillset. For the above examples, this would mean giving the students an exam platform where they can use the same tools and methods to solve tasks that they would use during their course or if they were working in industry: computer, CAD software, a code editor, advanced calculators and other subject-specific software.

To counteract the academic contrast between digital learning and analogue exams, a digital assessment platform can provide a more authentic exam and assessment scenario that allows students to perform tasks that mirror real-world application of their theoretical knowledge and skillset. For the above examples, this would mean giving the students an exam platform where they can use the same tools and methods to solve tasks that they would use during their course or if they were working in industry: computer, CAD software, a code editor, advanced calculators and other subject-specific software.


Dr Simon Kent, Director of Learning and Teaching at Brunel University London, on authentic exams

Authentic assessment allows educational institutions to measure that their students not only have the knowledge necessary to solve actual critical issues in the world, they are also able to put that knowledge to practical use.

[Sources]
Eshet, Yoram. “Digital literacy: A conceptual framework for survival skills in the digital era.” Journal of educational multimedia and hypermedia 13.1 (2004): 93-106. Kirschner, Paul A., De Bruyckere, Pedro. ”The myths of the digital native and the multitasker.” Teacher and Teacher Education 67 (2017): 135-142.

[Link]
https://uniwise.dk/2019/02/07/digital-literacy-higher-education-2/

Procuring a Digital Assessment Platform Easily: The G-Cloud 10 Framework

UNIwise is approved and accredited by the G-Cloud 10 framework. This means that educational institutions in the UK can purchase WISEflow and begin digitizing their exam and assessment process very quickly.

Using G-Cloud 10 means not having to worry about writing tenders: the G-Cloud 10 purchasing framework has preapproved vendors, where educational institutions can purchase cloud-based technology. This allows those responsible for procurement decisions to choose educational technology without the need for tenders, as all vendors within the digital market place are already approved within the standards of the framework. For the G-Cloud 10 Framework, vendors applying must meet a set of minimum standards to become approved and accredited G-Cloud suppliers.

Buying cloud-based services through this framework is much faster and cheaper than negotiating individual procurement contracts for the services. If you are looking to procure a specific cloud-based service, input a search (e.g. ‘assessment’), weigh the results against the criteria you have for the needed solution and contact them. Through the framework, a 24-month call-off contract can be made to deliver the solution to your institution, which is great for early stages of testing and implementing educational technology at a HEI.

 

Getting the best start to digital exams

Of course, changing processes within a working educational institution is not just done on a whim. It must be done with great consideration to the format of their current academic practices, the impending change in overall work routines and the different groups of stakeholders within the exam and assessment process. To help with this transition, we have developed a three-step pilot programme to help educational institutions get the best possible beginning with digital exams

 

First step – The Start-up

The first thing we focus on immediately after a contract on a pilot is signed, is securing a start-up meeting with our client. This meeting will take place well before the pilot begins to ensure plenty of time to prepare any required licences and integrations you need.

At the first meeting, we will discuss your wishes, needs and ambitions for the project. We will also assign roles within the process and decide and plan which tasks are to be carried out by you and your educational institution and which tasks are to be handled by us.

After the initial start-up meeting, we take some time to let you familiarize yourselves with our software and introduce you to the modular structure of the system. This ensures that you can thoroughly test the system before the following workshops.

 

Second step – The Pilot

The second phase of implementation involves status meetings, workshops, and a final planning meeting.

During status meetings, we will plan your customized on-site workshops and continuously follow your pilot progress closely. The workshops focus on training super users in the system, so the creation and conduction of digital exams and assessment will flow smoothly during the pilot.

The final part of the second phase is the planning-meeting, where we (you and fellow project partners from your educational institution in unison with UNIwise representatives) map the entire process for your exams: every single exam that needs to be prepared, conducted and assessed in the system will be set up. Lastly, a template of the exam is created.

After this, you will be ready to run your first digital exams.

 

Third step – Evaluation

This final phase takes place after the pilot has run its course and your exam process is done.

In unison, we will evaluate the process and the results and agree on what the next step in our cooperation should be.

If you are interested in seeing what our platform is capable of doing for you, book a free demo or visit our listing on G-Cloud 10.

The G-Cloud framework is in continuous development and version 11 is set to launch in early July.

[Link]
https://uniwise.dk/2019/05/16/procuring-digital-assessment-platform-g-cloud-10-framework/