Thursday, 30 June 2011

TRACK D: iPadagogy: Using Apple iPads within the Assessment and Feedback process

Hosted by: Agi Ryder, David Westwood

Agi and David hosted a lively and informative session, in two parts; an introduction and brief report back presentations from project participants, followed by Q&A and discussion to share wider experiences of using iPads. As Agi explained, funding was secured to purchase five iPads, “distributed to schools to use in teaching practice”. The timing of this dovetailed with the e-Assessment initiative and the resulting aims for the iPad project became - how iPads can be used: as a tool for mobile marking, to deliver timely feedback and to deliver audio feedback. The five presentations came from a variety of disciplines across the schools; Nursing, Sports, Psychology, Finance and ICT in Education.

Venetia Brown (HSSC) compared the iPad, in terms of both efficiency and convenience, to traditional methods when marking text based assessments. They found that it was efficient and also lighter to carry around. Using the iPad as an e-reader for dissertations was “great”. On the negative side was connectivity – 3G was essential 3G rather than wifi and the lack of Flash on the iPad meant Turnitin couldn’t be accessed.

Phil Barter (HSSC) and colleagues went for a different approach. They wanted to improve feedback across their programme and increase the variety of format. Their aim was to upload videos of students in action, to the iPad, annotate them and email screen shots back to the student. After much trial and error two apps appeared that enabled this video annotation (ScreenChalk) and also, marking during student presentations via a click through rubric (Vernier Video Physics). Both enabled feedback to be emailed to students immediately after presentations and performance, which the students really liked. Students felt better equipped to progress to the next year of study.

Ellie Franklin (BS) was positive about its portability and ease (“I love the iPad”), although felt that battery life could be improved. Her aim to use it alongside PebblePad for feedback was thwarted as it doesn’t support Flash. An app called SoundNote, which records audio tracks note taking, enabled her to mark a mock test with audio and written feedback, to email directly to the students as a PDF. She recommended using a pencil instead of purchasing the stylus, as preferable to touch screen typing.

Stephen Nunn and Nollaig Frost (HSSC) also found the typing difficult over time. They did find the iPad useful as a “second screen” – allowing portability whilst reading the essay and returning to a computer to mark it. A different application of the iPad, using the app Audio Memos, enabled them to mark student poster presentations, recording both verbal and written feedback – all within one session. The results were immediately emailed to the students so there were no carry over tasks for the tutors.

Gary Meek (A&E) completed the report back presentations by highlighting that the iPad doesn’t arrive with a manual or any useful software, which leads to heavy use of the apple store for “must-have” apps, in this case, note taking software. He found the iPad useful as a less intrusive device in classrooms when observing trainee teachers – an environment he wouldn’t take a laptop in to - you can “wander around the room taking notes”. Connectivity was an issue but Gary temporarily used his mobile phone as a wireless network. His recommended apps were: Documents to Go, Nebulous Notes and SoundNote.

This led neatly into the discussion, where topics included: useful apps, technical clarification on being able to link the iPad to a screen for presentations, the university infrastructure for supporting full connectivity and easy set up and use of equipment, security of data stored in cloud computing, the need for a policy covering the control and distribution of recorded media and training for using the new technologies.

To continue the discussion beyond the session, it was requested that participants add their comments, requests, ideas and issues to the eAssessment wiki, in order for them to be addressed by CCSS. David rounded the session off by pointing everyone towards the wiki and said that a ‘toolbox’ of recommended apps was in the pipeline.

Louise Merlin
e-Learning Content Producer
Centre for Learning and Teaching Enhancement

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