Changes to the Print to Mark service

In 2015, working with the Print Shop, the Assessment Journey Programme launched a Print to Mark service to support academic staff making the transition to online management of assessment by providing printed assignments for marking purposes, prior to electronic feedback being provided online.

This service will continue to be made available after the Assessment Journey Programme ends, however, there will be some changes for 2017/18 following the implementation of new software by the Print Shop.

If you have used the service, please note the following changes:

– There will be a different online request form but the same information will be required, just in a different format

– You will be able to specify a more convenient delivery point rather than just your local Helpdesk however due to availability; the helpdesk may still be the most convenient delivery point

– Zip files will no longer be able to be attached so files downloaded from Blackboard will need to be extracted and then attached (but multiple selection of files is supported)

Please also read the new guidance that is available for full instructions on using this service.

If you have any technical queries or general questions, please contact the Print Shop.

Refined business contingency process now in place to support assessment

Over the past few months, the Assessment Journey Programme team has been working with a number of key stakeholders across the University to define and test a business contingency process that will be implemented in the event of system downtime.

The agreed process will ensure that there is a consistent approach should Blackboard be unavailable for the submission of student work or the marking or provision of feedback by academic staff.

Details on the agreed process can be found in Assessment Essentials.

Frequently asked questions:

  1. What will happen if a submission point is unavailable at the time of submission?
    A. An extension from the time the system is restored is to be provided to all affected students. Digital Technology Services will place a standard message on Blackboard and Faculty Student Services teams will contact students with further details. Module Leaders do not need to take any action.
  2. What will happen if Blackboard is unavailable at the time of, or becomes unavailable during, a Blackboard test?
    A. The Module Leader should liaise with the affected student(s) to arrange an alternative date and update Blackboard accordingly.
  3. What will happen if system unavailability prevents access to work for marking?
    A. An extended period of time equivalent to the duration of system unavailability (up to 48 hours) will be allowed to complete the marking and provide feedback to students. Module Leaders should advise students by email if there is to be a delay in providing feedback due to system unavailability; either at the time of marking or the time of releasing feedback. If staff can still meet the original turnaround times this is encouraged.

Solution to support the upload of media files is now available

A new solution has been integrated with Blackboard which will allow students and staff to upload media files (currently up to 2GB in size), such as video assignments and video or audio feedback, safe in the knowledge that the files are stored securely.

Other benefits include:

  • files are uploaded to a central publishing point and delivered back as streamlining media
  • content is automated transcoded to work across all devices from with Blackboard
  • submitted work is accessed via the Grade Centre, enabling staff to view or listen to student video or audio assignments and provide feedback without leaving Blackboard

This will mean a change to the process for staff and students when submitting media files, so guidance including screencasts is now available in the Submitting Work Online section of Assessment Essentials. Students can access video guidance in the Submitting Work Online section of Assessment4Students.

Your local Faculty TEL Team have been trained on this solution and are on hand to support colleagues.

Please let us know what you think – email your feedback to ! Assessment Journey Programme

Supporting your students with their semester 2 assessments

In September 2016 we launched a new assessment resource to provide students with guidance and support around all aspects of assessment throughout the academic year.

Assessment4Students’ was developed in collaboration with students and includes a variety of content focused on helping students if they are:

– Finding online submission a bit of a struggle
– Having problems accessing their marks and feedback online
– Need help preparing for or have questions about their exams

Other content includes ‘ how to develop your academic skills’, ‘how to provide feedback about your course’, and links to the University’s assessment regulations.

This resource is especially useful out-of-hours and during holidays when perhaps there is a reduced level of support available on-campus.

We continue to promote the resource to students through a number of channels such as shuspace, desktop screensavers and so on, however we hope you will be able to signpost your students to this useful guidance and support; perhaps mentioning the resource during your lectures, including it on your Blackboard module site, within email communications and on your email auto-response.

We’d welcome any feedback at ! Assessment Journey Programme .

Student Feedback Sessions 7th – 9th March

We are running some student feedback sessions in early March to find out how our students are finding the move to online assessment (which affected level 3, 4 and 7 students from September 2016).

We’re asking students to come and talk to us about their experience (both good and bad), and share their ideas with us to help make things better. In return we’re offering them £7 SHU Card credit.

Full details can be found on Eventbrite. Please share this opportunity with relevant students in your area.

Refreshed guidance for mark transfer now available for Module Leaders

Refreshed guidance for mark transfer now available for Module Leaders

Work has progressed looking at the processes of mark transfer to identify any improvements that could be made. This was required in order to reduce the impact of not pursuing a technical solution to transferring marks between Blackboard and SITS – the Assessment Journey Programme Change Team, and subsequently the University Projects Board, agreed that the development carried too much risk to progress at this point in time.

This work has culminated in refreshed guidance being created to enable Module Leaders to download, format and send task marks from Blackboard Grade Centre to Student Administration in a consistent and efficient way. This work was developed with input from academic and professional service staff, and draws upon academic best practice and board secretary requirements.

Adopting a more consistent, streamlined process across the University will bring a number of benefits for both academic and professional services colleagues.

What are the benefits?

  • Marks are supplied in a consistent way from the Grade Centre which will reduce the  need for dialogue with Student Administration around data queries
  • Student Administration will be able to process marks quickly and release timely reports
  • Marks supplied to boards through the use of one data source (Grade Centre)
  • Greater clarity around what information is required when sending marks through  to Student Administration, what to do in the event of missing marks and how rounding of marks is managed

Do I need to do anything?

This is a consolidation of existing guidance as well as the introduction of newly developed guidance, so some elements may be new, but not others. We ask all Module Leaders to take time to read and use the guidance at the next opportunity when submitting marks to Student Administration. We would welcome feedback from Module Leaders as this is rolled out and used for the first time. This can be sent by email to ! Assessment Journey Programme.

How do I get further information?

Representatives from Student Administration and the Assessment Journey Programme will be attending departmental management group meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the rationale and respond to any initial queries about the processes and refreshed guidance. In addition, queries or feedback about the guidance can also be sent by email to ! Assessment Journey Programme

Improving the assessment and feedback experience

Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor, shared his thoughts on the University’s recent National Student Survey on his blog, and within this highlighted that assessment and feedback should be an area of focus for all teaching teams as we continue to strive to improve the student experience.

The move to online management of assessment (OMA) from September 2016, supported by resources generated through the Assessment Journey Programme, provides an opportunity to address some of the issues raised by student feedback, specifically the timeliness of assessment feedback and the quality of feedback.

Here is a summary of the guidance and support that is available to help course teams make improvements around assessment and feedback.

To support the move to OMA, the Assessment Journey Programme will continue to develop the suite of resources and offer training in conjunction with Faculty TEL Teams.

If you have any queries in relation to the above or feel further support is needed, please contact us at ! Assessment Journey Programme.

iPad loan service now available

The University recently announced changes to its Equipment Policy to facilitate mobile and flexible working, and support the move to online management of assessment in the University.

In addition to the roll out of laptops (as required), it was agreed that a central loan service would be developed to provide academic staff with temporary access to mobile equipment during assessment periods.

We are pleased to confirm that an iPad loan service is now available to all academic teaching staff.

Please note the following guidance for accessing this service:

  • Requests can be submitted to Digital Technology Services (DTS) by using the iPad loan request form
  • The loan equipment is provided specifically to support the delivery of online management of assessment
  • The loan period will align with the period of marking and feedback within each semester – a maximum period of 16 weeks within a semester, after which the equipment will need to be returned to DTS
  • Please allow a minimum of 5 working days for processing (between submitting a request and collection)
  • Once a request has been approved by DTS, a confirmation email will be sent including a date and location for collection

New Marks and Feedback Tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback files and marks to Blackboard

New Marks and Feedback Tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback files and marks to Blackboard

We are delighted to announce the launch of a tool to help staff manage assessment online. The tool enables the bulk download of student work and the upload of feedback file attachments and marks generated electronically outside of Blackboard into Grade Centre for an assignment submitted online.

The following instructions provide guidance on the 6-stage process:
Stage 1 – downloading
Stage 2 – unzipping files
Stage 3 – creating feedback
Stage 4 – zipping files
Stage 5 – uploading feedback
Stage 6 – accessing Grade Centre to check that the upload has worked correctly

The instructions also include considerations associated with its use and screencasts for a visual how-to guide.

In case of queries, please contact your local TEL Team for assistance.

We’re into the final year of the programme – what has been delivered to date?

As we enter the final year of the programme, it feels an appropriate time to reflect on progress, so here is a round-up of what has been delivered to date:

Informing, preparing and supporting staff:

  • Development, launch and continued promotion of an online resource, Assessment Essentials, to assist staff with the effective design and delivery of assessment for their students
  • Creation of a series of detailed academic case studies to highlight the use of different assessment practices and technologies and share best practice
  • Enhancement of existing Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) guidance and the creation of over 80 new multi-media resources relating to assessment and feedback
  • Identification of staff equipment requirements and changes to the University’s Equipment Policy agreed and published. Implementation processes defined and communicated to all academic staff
  • Design and delivery of a training programme in conjunction with Faculty TEL Teams, encompassing group sessions, drop-ins and bespoke 1-2-1s
  • Development and delivery of a health and safety action plan
  • University-wide staff engagement and communications to inform, prepare and support staff – range of digital communications, university / faculty events, standing meeting updates, working groups and workshops
  • Training and support for all helpdesk teams

Informing, preparing and supporting students:

  • Development and launch of an online resource, Assessment4students, to provide students with guidance and support around assessment
  • Design and delivery of a student communication strategy at the start of 2016/17 to inform students of the change, clarify expectations and provide support through guidance, resources and helpdesks

Governance & process:

  • Definition and implementation of the new Policy for Summative Assessment for 2016/17
  • Definition and communication of the operating models for the management of submission and associated processes in conjunction with faculties
  • Development and communication of a business continuity model in the event of system failure
  • Process improvement work considering seven academic and administrative processes

Technical development:

  • Identification of the detailed technical requirements of the business and engagement with suppliers on development, costs and timeframes
  • Deployment of:
    – a quick enrol functionality to support administrative staff with access to Blackboard module sites
    – an online receipting capability for students submitting  coursework electronically to Blackboard
    – a new tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback file attachments and marks generated electronically outside of Blackboard into Grade Centre for assignments submitted online
  • Development and introduction of a print to mark capability to allow for marking of physical copies of electronically submitted assignments, prior to staff providing electronic feedback online
  • Analysis and initial development work around moving data from Assessment Scheduler to SITS
  • Analysis and options development for  the integration of Blackboard and SITS
  • Pilots and evaluation of the Safe Assign originality checking tool
  • Development and deployment of a new task clustering (bunching) report

We would like to thank everyone involved for their support and valuable contribution.