Together with Technical Developer Sat Anandhan, John Jackson – CLTAD’s Educational Developer (eLearning) – has been involved in UAL’s Online Assessment Tool (OAT) project since its inception. Here he discusses OAT’s journey so far and plans for the future.
OAT is an online assessment grading and feedback tool developed by CLTAD to support the delivery of high quality and timely assessment feedback to students throughout the university. Available to course teams as an optional alternative to using the Word based assessment feedback forms, it was used for the first time on two courses (one London College of Fashion, the other London College of Communication) in late December 2011.
Since then, around 320 University of the Arts London (UAL) courses have made use of this new tool. Over 30,000 instances of feedback have been published so far and over 11,500 students have accessed their feedback via this route. Such a large number of ‘early adopters’ shows that OAT largely meets the needs it was designed to address – and provides invaluable user insights into how it can be further improved and extended (whilst retaining one of its key features – simplicity).
OAT essentially simplifies the process of providing assessment feedback to students. It does this by minimising unnecessary administration and thus allowing academics to concentrate on providing high quality feedback. Students can then conveniently access this feedback via Blackboard or Moodle and make use of it in a timely manner.
At CSM, BA Jewellery Design was the first course to test and use OAT in 2012. This academic year several CSM courses have started to adopt it, including BA Performance Art and Practice, BA Graphic Design, MA Acting and the collaborative ‘Bigger Picture Unit.’
Insights and suggestions received from users (students, tutors and administrators) have been invaluable in planning further improvements. The latest iteration – now available in Moodle, soon available in Blackboard – will seem very familiar to current users, but it is more intuitive and requires fewer clicks. This version also adds several extras including extended template setup options and an extended ‘multiple markers’ setting (we are looking for additional course teams to further test and refine this last feature).
Some of the benefits of OAT are summarised below in quotes from tutors and students.
- The tool has significantly reduced the amount of time spent and repetitive tasks the team had to do regards generation of assessment feedback.
- Studio assessment – speeded up this process!
- The way the team has used the new tool has allowed for quality procedures (double marking, internal moderation, etc) to be built into assessment practice much easier.
- This is the start of a robust pedagogically sound system for assessment and feedback.
- Can be accessed anywhere!
- Reliable. Fast.
- It nice to have it available wherever and whenever if I need to remember what critique I received and need to improve for new, ongoing projects. It also nice to have for later when you one day probably have lost the original sheet.
- I live far away from uni so this helps me get feedback without having to travel all the way there just to receive a piece of paper. It’s also quicker.
- I think it is excellent and very useful. It saves me lots of time from going into uni to collect the essay and find out the grade.
It is important to remember that OAT is accessed online and therefore functions such as spellchecker need to be enabled within your browser (which is very straightforward in Firefox and Chrome).
CLTAD provides training and support in the setup and use of OAT – for more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a help area (‘organisation’) in Blackboard – ‘Assessment Tool Help’ which provides online guides and short ‘how to’ videos and an online form course teams can use to request OAT for their courses – available at http://tinyurl.com/oatsetup.
More information on assessment at UAL is available at http://www.arts.ac.uk/assessment/.