On Friday I was up in Dundee, a place I’ve never been before, talking Open Badges to people attending the e-Assessment Scotland conference. It was a free event (made possible through sponsorship/partnership) and was predominantly a Higher Education crowd, with a few exceptions.
Understandably, given the constraints in making the event free, wifi access
was not provided (as far as I could tell) was provided but I must have missed the time/place when they were giving out the codes. Nor could I get a 3G signal, so I resorted to pen and paper, scribbling furiously to keep up with the pace of ideas in the keynotes.
The opening keynote was by David Boud, an educator from Australia who was talking about New Conceptions of Feedback and How They Might Be Put into Practice. His main argument was that what we currently describe giving ‘feedback’ to students is in essence pre-feedback. He challenged assumptions that more, quicker and automated feedback is necessarily better, and asserted (rightly, in my opinion) that problems to do with feedback are not a result of a lack of diligence, but a result of fuzziness of thinking.
Learners should be empowered and encouraged to seek out feedback, use it appropriately, and then give feedback to others, said David. We need a dialogic approach that includes calibration of students’ judgement and is central to the curriculum. There was a lot to like in his keynote. Something I need to think about further was his attack on anonymity in marking. Whilst it’s done for the best of reasons (and should be in place for final, summative tests) it destroys iterative, formative approaches to feedback during the learning process.
The opening keynote definitely got me thinking.
AM Parallel Sessions
The sessions I attended in the morning were Structuring Online Assessment to Support Progression in Professional Practice (Keith Smyth, Julia Fotheringham and Karen Strickland from Edinburgh Napier University) and Investigating MOOCs (Colin Maxwell, Carnegie College).
The first of these sessions centred around a ’3Es’ model – which won an e-Assessment Scotland award. The second charted the MOOC landscape, including revelations of which I was unaware. For example, I didn’t know that Udacity have partnered with Pearson Vue test centres for 90-minute multiple-choice exams. Nor was I aware of Adobe Generation – 10 week courses with weekly webinars and certification at test centres.
It’s interesting times for Higher Education, that’s for sure.
Lunchtime – EduTalk Radio
Lynn Boyle, who had very kindly mothered me by picking me up from the train station and taking me to dinner the night before, shepherded me into a room at the start of lunch to have a conversation with John Johnston and Martin Hawksey. We talked about various things, including (of course!) Open Badges.
The post-lunch keynote was by Russell Stannard, who I’ve seen present before on using screencasting to give feedback to students. He entitled his presentation Changing the Way We Provide Feedback and constituted an extended look at how he’d started using screencasting for feedback a few years ago, got better at it, and now goes around the world telling people about it.
PM Parallel Session
It was my turn to talk in the afternoon session on Are Badges the Future for Accrediting Skills? The answer, obviously is YES.
My laptop decided to play up and not show the slides, unfortunately, so I resorted to a flipchart and pen. I actually really enjoyed the technology fail as it made the session even more spontaneous and engaged the audience. There were plenty of questions, as usual, and some helpful person got my slides up from Slideshare for the last 10 minutes or so.
The people who went after me – June Wigfield and Carole Paterson talked about Collaborateive Eventful Assessments and had mapped the outcomes from the Scottish Curriculum for excellence onto their programme. The only one they were struggling with was Outcome 5 about immersive worlds, so I suggested Minecraft or OpenSim.
The final keynote was by Cristina Costa from the University of Salford and entitled Feeding Forward – The Role of the Participatory Web in Formative Assessment. I’ve met Cristina a few times and known her online for a while. Her presentation was about the world I inhabit – a networked social public space where feedback is given and acted upon every day.
Post-conference, I met up with John Johnston and David Noble for dinner. I’ve known these two for years – ever since the EdTechRoundUp days (and probably even before that!) It was great to talk to them about education in general and Open Badges specifically. I respect both of them hugely.
I had a great time at e-Assessment Scotland. It was great to catch up with people I knew already, to meet face-to-face those I’ve only ever interacted with online, and to meet new people. It was a very well-organised event with a timely look at what we talk about when we talk about feedback!