After the herculean effort of many folks at Macquarie University in mounting a fully online exam period due to COVID-19, we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with marking now well underway. Data from student feedback and examinations hotline is being processed for insights with lessons to be shared soon. In the mean time, last week saw several international events on various aspects of digital assessment in transition, in STEM and in virtual worlds.

Back to the future – using a pen in STEM e-exams

Monday 22nd: I gave a Zoom talk at the e-Assessment in Mathematical Sciences online conference (University of Newcastle UK). I explored the pros, cons and caveats of using graphics tablets for STEM digital examinations based on a pilot experiment ran in 2019.

The talk recording is available:

The future of e-assessment practices after the Corona Virus emergency

Wednesday 24th: I gave joint session via GotoWebinar with Ishan Kolhatkar (BPP University, UK) at the Digital Examinations Forum 2020 online conference (University of Bath, UK and Inspera, No). Given the COVID-19 pivot we are now at a cross roads – do we merely migrate to, or transform assessment online? In my part I explored the possibilities, conditions and potential pitfalls for moving to digital examinations in higher education. I made a particular point that there are deliberate choices to be made in adopting technologies that will have a material impacts upon the shape and form of what is possible in digital exams going forward. The session also briefly covered at a very rough and ready analysis of issues reported via the exam hotline during the first week of exams at Macquarie (more to come on that).

The session recording is available:

Opportunities and Challenges for Assessment in XR

Friday 26th: I, via my ‘avatar’, presented at a panel session at the Immersive Learning Research Network conference (US) held within Virbela virtual campus (at 1am-3am SYD time!). Joint with US and European colleagues Cindy Ziker, Evelien Ydo, Diago Zapata-Rivera and Michael Casale. I covered work carried out in Australia from 2011 to 2018 to enable the collection of assessment data in virtual worlds and using augmented reality technology.
The conference itself was held using a mix of virtual world and online conferencing technologies. The experience was immersive in a different way than that experienced in Zoom sessions in that movement in a virtual 3rd dimension was possible. During the conference you could use voice or text to chat with others, present slides, webcam streams and share links. Unlike an individually scheduled Zoom session, the added dimension of a 3D virtual environment meant that you could also walk about the conference venue and ‘bump’ into others giving you spontaneous and serendipitous opportunities for meeting others at the event. Post-session discussions with individual members of the audience was also possible just like at a real conference. The virtual conference also had an exhibition hall for posters and demos where links to a range of different virtual and immersive technologies were provided. The virtual world environment would certainly have its uses for engaging student assessments where role plays, meetings and digital poster presentation could be hosted.

virtual conference presentation audiencevirtual conference presentation  opening scenevirtual conference presentation scene with laser pointervirtual conference post-session discussion scene
Our panel was also live streamed and the 2 hour session recording is here:

Let us know in the comments below if you have any digital assessment events of your own to share!

Posted by Mathew Hillier

Mathew has been engaged by Macquarie University as an e-Assessment Academic in residence and is available to answer questions by MQ staff. Mathew specialises in Digital Assessment (e-Assessment) in Higher Education. Has held positions as an advisor and academic developer at University of New South Wales, University of Queensland, Monash University and University of Adelaide. He has also held academic teaching roles in areas such as business information systems, multimedia arts and engineering project management. Mathew recently led a half million dollar Federal government funded grant on e-Exams across ten university partners and is co-chair of the international 'Transforming Assessment' webinar series as the e-Assessment special interest group under the Australasian society for computers in learning in tertiary education. He is also an honorary academic University of Canberra.

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