Monday, 9 February 2009

Busy, busy, busy...

This week is looking to be an interesting one. Not only are we in the midst of trying to get all of the project tied up, but we are holding the last management and advisory group meetings under the current funding. As with all of these project meetings more of my time is gobbled up by everything surrounding the meeting more than attending. I have though ordered the lunch, so all that is left is to get into the room for the meeting after the teaching has finished and set up. (Our centre administrator is on holiday, so its fend for your self time.)

Towards the end of the week, I am off to attend the community day of Dev8D and the evenings awards dinner. I'm off to the dinner as I have been nominated for an award. At the moment I am not sure what to expect, but it should be interesting to say the least. I will of course post the out comes if any.

Right I better get to the day job and make sure everything is in place for the meetings.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

The lapse in blog posts has continued

I am aware that the lapse in blogging has continued. There are many reasons behind the lack of posts, mostly related to time.

Since the last post we have held our very first user group meeting for the WebPA tool. I am happy to say that the event was more than successfully. It out stripped my expectations of the day, my only wish was that people would talk and interact with each other. Well they all talked, talked and talked some more (causing us to over run on sessions). This makes such a nice change from me doing all the talking about WebPA, and also from event delegates behaving like the students they say never interact.

One of the best statements about the day came from a delegate who said;
This tool has a great future but it needs to move quickly if it doesn’t want to be overtaken by the big boys’ (e.g. Blackboard et al) growing desire to jump on the ‘assessment and feedback’ bandwagon. Congratulations to all those who’ve worked on it so far and I’d like to express my interest in getting involved.
Really that statement says it all for me. Not only does this person see how they can implement and support the tool at their institution, but they also want to become involved. I think that we can say that we are now at score 2 (score1 being reached a while ago). And that was really what I wanted to get out of the user group, but believe me we got more... one implementer has talked about creating a ''power link for Blackboard, another suggested they help us work with the Moodle community, the list goes on and on.

In addition to the user group, the Physical Sciences Subject Centre held an assessment event last week and again the feedback has been really positive. The day after I was at an e-learning conference at the University of Ulster. This was yet another interesting event and initial feedback was positive and encouraging. I think that we may have collected more potential adopting institutions. I still think more the merrier, but we are coming to the end of the funding and although they will be good for the sustainability of the project, at the moment it looks like with out further funding many of these potential adopters will be out in the cold and not have the support adopters up till now will have had. Only time will tell though

Monday, 8 December 2008

Lapse in Blogging

It seems such a long time since I managed to write a post and in this time so much has happened.

We are well on our way to providing our first ever user group. The venue has been selected, booked, the last thing to do it to confirm numbers and the bookeing. Hopefully, this will be complete by the end of the day. The programme of what is happening for the day is well on its way. There are areas that need work and there is now so little time in which to do the work. But the very nice folks over at OSS-Watch have agreed to help and provide a presentation on community and how it works within the world of open source. But we would like the day to be more centered around those who are going to use the WebPA tool and support insitutional users.

Before preparing for the user event, I ran a work shop at the University of Coventry who have installed WebPA and are in the process of piloting the tool with a small number of academics. This ment that the people attending the workshop had very specific questions about the tool and its operation. None of the questions where anything that I hadn't faced before, but they did introduce some ideas and concepts I had never considered. As always more food for thought. To try and ensure that these where not lost the new features have been added to the projects source forge area, and also noted on the project website.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Netskills workshop

This morning I am in Newcastle, going through the elements which make up the task that I will be asking the participants at the Netskills workshop to do. Last week I did the workshop in Oxford at the same event, it went very well and we have received some really positive feedback. 

The workshop element that I am running is on WebPA (of course). While thinking what we could do, I decided that we would take a model used at Loughborough within the peer assessment workshops run, but not look at all the types of peer assessment. One of the reasons for not looking at all the types of peer assessment is due to the limitation on time, I have one hour.

So in the hour that we have, I have a quick presentation, covering the background and where WebPA comes from. Then I introduce the task... in this case I am asking them to produce a poster in groups on the Student Learning Experience (the main thread of the days workshops). I have a set of users who they become as this takes the edge of when they have to fill in the assessment.

Again today I hope that Sharon Waller can mark the posters, before all the participants come back together. Once back together, we collaboratively set the parameters for the assessment and look at the reports generated.

Last time Martin from the Economics Subject Centre came out as top student! As Martin is going to be there again to day I hope he is not top student again. When I originally thought about this work shop I thought of giving out chocolates as a prize, but this then adds a competitive edge and detracts from peer moderated marking and takes us more in to game theory. So no chocolates, but we will identify the top student, but we wont identify the worst, even hiding under alias' its not fair to pick on one person.

In Oxford everyone seemed to enjoy the ask and being a student again. By doing this they are seeing the student perspective and experiencing what the put students through (even if it is only an hour). After to day, I will put more information on running a workshop on the projects web site for others to pick up and use.

Monday, 13 October 2008

A busy time...

As a project we received some really good news over the weekend. A paper we submitted has been accepted, a part from some edits we need to make from the reviewers comments. Of course when the paper is officially published I will provide the citation for it.

However, this news has impacted my already busy week some. I need to turn the edits around quickly. As on Wednesday I am in Oxford at a Netskills workshop, then Thursday and Friday I am at the ACED Conference. Both are representing the project. The Netskills workshop should be fun, I will be getting the participants to create a poster on a given topic and then mark themselves and their team mates using the WebPA tool. We will not be comparing different peer moderated marking techniques as we don't really have time in 1 hour.

Thursday and Friday, are very different though. I only have 20 minutes to provide an over view of WebPA. This time thought the focus is quite particular, civil engineering. So I will be providing two case studies, where WebPA is used at Loughborough. I am currently not aware of any other institution using WebPA in civil engineering, though it would be nice to compare.

Next week will also prove to be busy and interesting. At the moment I am attending another Netskills workshop but this time in Newcastle. Following this I am going to take some time out, but only if the paper has been submitted.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Programme meeting time again

It only seems last month when we had a programme meeting for the project. But we have one looming on this Wednesday. I'm sure that we had to do something for it, but I can't remember and I will have to sit down and go through all the emails related to it. However, at the moment this seems a very futile exercise with everything that needs to be done. I will though spend some time this afternoon sorting through and finding out.

But there is so much to be achieved in the next few days and weeks. I need to finish sorting out the few glitches in the released code. As with every release you think you have nailed it, and then you come across something that is not quite right. At the same time I am frantically trying to up date all of the manuals on the website to reflect the changes in the system. I think this is how I keep identifying the problems that are appearing. Perhaps next time I can make the changes in the documentation and then release the system. You live and learn.

Additionally, we have been invited to so many things recently that I seem to be out and about a lot. But this has the knock on effect of I need to get all my normal work done and then on top I need to prepare for the events. Next week is the most crowded. I have a work shop with the Netskills team organised by the HEA next Wednesday, followed immediately by the ACED Conference.

I would rather be this way, busy, I hate not having things to do. But at some point I will need to slow down and take some time out.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Formative e-assessment workshop

To day I am down at the WLE center at the university of London attending their JISC project workshop on formative assessment.

We are all in groups working towards developing some case studies on one persons experiences of formative assessment. These case studies are being constructed through the person talking about their experience, another types the information directly into the projects wiki page. At the moment we are in the process of listening to other groups explaining the case study (this person is not the case study individual or the person who typed the assessment.)

It is really interesting to see the different uses of assessment. From the WebPA project formative assessment is an area that is not really exploited to its full potential. It would be nice to gather examples of where the WebPA tool is to assist formative assessment.

I think that from today I will take away a number of things, both for the project and also ideas for what we may wish to include in our user group day.