Success at the International e-Assessment awards

The Newcastle University Digital Exams Service has won the Best use of Summative Assessment Award at the International e-Assessment Awards 2020
Delivering real improvements 

The winners were announced at an online awards ceremony on the 16 June. Finalists had been selected from a range of education sectors and the submissions included a number of exciting and creative projects and solutions. 

When announcing the award for the Best Use of Summative Assessment, the independent panel of judges praised the Digital Exams Service for demonstrating a high level of success, delivering at real scale and meeting a defined need. They also commented that the work on supporting accessibility was particularly noteworthy. 

Excellence and innovation 

Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education said: 

‘’I am extremely pleased that the hard work and dedication of colleagues has been recognised with this international award which represents a commitment to excellence, innovation and collaboration across the University.  


The Digital Exams Service has been successful in diversifying online exams with the introduction of digital written exams and a bring your own device approach.  This has enabled more authentic assessment and has enhanced the accessibility of exams for our students.’’ 

Collaboration 

The Digital Exams Service is founded on collaboration between academic and professional services colleagues in academic units across the institution, together with the Learning and Teaching Development Service, NUIT, and Exams and Awards Office. 

The e-Assessment awards 

The e-Assessment Awards programme holds a unique position, as it encompasses all sectors of education: from schools, through further and higher education to workplace training and professional exams. The Awards programme was launched in October 2016 to highlight and celebrate the outstanding and positive contributions that technology makes to all forms of assessment, and has gone on to showcase the best practice, research and innovation in the sector. Find out more about the awards and criteria on the e-Assessment Awards website. 

Flexible Learning 2020: Online Course and Website now available

Are you starting to plan your teaching for next year? 

The new Flexible Learning 2020 online course and website are comprehensive resources developed by LTDS, FMS TEL and NUIT, and are available now. They provide achievable ideas for alternative activities as we move to a flexible education offer in 20/21. 

The student learning experience  in 20/21 will involve a mixture of online and on-campus learning and assessment activities. Flexible Learning 2020 articulates the delivery of the Education Resilience Framework, an institutional framework for the revision and development of our taught modules and programmes for 20-21, due to the continuing Covid-19 situation. Flexible Learning 2020 supports the design and development of teaching flexibly to deliver engaging student learning activities. 

The Course 

Ideas and expertise from across  the University are brought together in this self paced online course available in Canvas. Complete the full course or do the Before the course starts and Building an education community  sections, then dip into the sections most useful for you and your students. 12 key areas are covered including: 

  • Rethinking lectures: Make use of recordings, readings, commentary and discussion boards. 
  • Building a learning community: Build social and peer group connections from the start. 
  • Involving guest speakers:  Make use of Zoom and Teams. 
  • Seminars and small group teaching: Before, during and after. How to incorporate non-synchronous activities to get the most out of synchronous delivery. 
  • Online assessment: How a number of different assessment types can work online. 
  • Labs : considerations for acceptable online lab resources/simulations to provide introduction/discussion points when students may not be able to take part in in-person on campus labs. 
  • Studio/practice based activities: for supporting students on programmes in the creative disciplines or where making and producing are a significant part of the programme 

You can also find ideas for field trips, project supervision and group work projects and more. The time it will take to complete each section is clearly indicated so you can complete the sections relevant to your teaching whenever it is convenient. 

Participating in the course will help you think about your practice through a mix of practical Canvas based activities, examples from across the University, discussion points and useful  tips. Everyone will be automatically enrolled – just look for Flexible Learning 2020 on your dashboard when you log in to Canvas.  

The Website 

The Flexible Learning 2020 website includes examples, resources, guides and screencasts to help deliver the alternative activities you choose. 

You can also find out more about the context of Flexible Learning 2020, the key areas of alternative activities and working definitions used. 

More content will be added to both the course and website over the coming weeks so keep checking back. 

Canvas 

Canvas is our exciting new VLE, replacing Blackboard from 1 August 2020, and provides many opportunities to deliver an enhanced online learning experience for students. This platform will be a key enabler for delivering the flexible learning offer and you can access a comprehensive range of resources including webinars, the Canvas Orientation course, and guides to help get the most out of this platform. 

Any questions? 

We welcome any queries, ideas or feedback. You can get in touch at LTDS@ncl.ac.uk or come along to one of our daily drop in sessions. 

New Canvas Webinar: Communication and Collaboration

Continue your Canvas journey with this webinar which will explain how to use a range of collaboration and communication tools within Canvas.  

You will learn about:

  • how to use calendar and inbox
  • how to set up groupshow to use discussion boards, wikis etc
  • how to use some of the integrated tools such as Office 365 and Zoom 

Who should attend?

This workshop would suit all staff who are required to use Canvas to communicate and collaborate with students and/or other colleagues.   

Book your place on Communication and Collaboration

Numbas and the migration to Canvas

This post provides some further information on how the move to Canvas affects Numbas tests.

Will my Numbas tests roll over to Canvas automatically?

Numbas tests are attached to a particular course in a VLE, and therefore will not be moved across when we change from Blackboard to Canvas. Tests will need to be set up again for the new academic year, which is no bad thing as you will need to make some decisions about the set up in Canvas. See the section How do I create a Numbas test in Canvas? below.

Remember that Numbas tests are prepared on the Numbas Editor (the Public Editor is at numbas.mathcentre.ac.uk). This means that you can redeploy your existing test in Canvas.

How can I access scores from Numbas tests deployed in Blackboard?

If you require scores from Numbas tests deployed in Blackboard then you should access these before the close down of Blackboard on July 31st.

However, the Numbas LTI tool will continue to have a record of attempts. A request can be sent to numbas@ncl.ac.uk if you need access to data after the close down of Blackboard.

How do I create a Numbas test in Canvas?

Numbas can be deployed in Canvas in two ways:

  • as a module item, alongside other learning resources; or
  • as an assignment.
Numbas
module item
Numbas
assignment
Add Numbas content ✅ ✅
Record student scores ✅ ✅
Hide from calendar, to do list, etc ✅
Restrict by date ✅
Add scores to Gradebook ✅
Use as a pre-requisite ✅

The following videos demonstrate the set up of each. For full step-by-step instructions see the Canvas Orientation Course.

Adding a Numbas test as a module item

In the following video, I add a Numbas test as a module item in Canvas:

Adding a Numbas Assignment

In the following video I set up Numbas as an assignment in Canvas:

E-Assessment in Mathematical Sciences (EAMS) 2020 Conference

The Numbas team in the School of Mathematics, Statistics & Physics is running the third international conference on E-Assessment in Mathematical Sciences (EAMS), taking place between 22nd June and 1st July 2020. The conference brings together researchers and practitioners with an interest in e-assessment for mathematics and science.

Following successful events here in Newcastle in 2016 and 2018, EAMS 2020 will be an entirely online conference, featuring a mix of live sessions and web-based activities, with plenty of opportunity for discussion and collaboration.

As many of us prepare to continue delivering teaching and assessment online, EAMS 2020 presents an opportunity to hear from experts in the field and get hands-on with software, including Numbas, which is used extensively across the University, in subjects that include Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, Maths, Physics, Psychology and Sports Science.

Live talks will take place over Zoom at 9am or 4pm BST (UTC +1) each day, with recordings available later. We hope that the online format and longer timescale will allow participants to engage more deeply with the material presented.

The call for talk and workshop proposals is currently open. If you have some research or an innovative technique related to mathematical e-assessment that you would like to present, then please submit an abstract at https://eams.ncl.ac.uk/call-for-speakers.

To attend the conference, please register for free at https://eams.ncl.ac.uk/register.

Newcastle University Digital Exams Service announced as finalist in the e-Assessment Awards

The e-Assessment Association has announced the shortlisted finalists for its international awards programme, The e-Assessment Awards.

We are delighted to announce that the Newcastle University Digital Exams Service has been shortlisted in the ‘Best Use of Summative Assessment’ category.

The e-Assessment Awards programme holds a unique position, as it encompasses all sectors of education: from schools, through further and higher education to workplace training and professional exams. The Awards programme was launched in October 2016 to highlight and celebrate the outstanding and positive contributions that technology makes to all forms of assessment, and has gone on to showcase the best practice, research and innovation in the sector.

Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education, recognised this excellent acheivement:

“The nomination reflects the fact that we are a leading institution in the sector for digital exam provision.  It also recognises our commitment to ongoing innovation, exemplified by the recent introduction of digital written exams that students can take using their own devices. 

The Digital Exams Service plays a pivotal role in providing our students an educational experience supported and enhanced by technology, which is one of the four key themes of the University Education Strategy.  Delivering a diverse range of summative exam types in a secure online environment enables authentic assessment, enhances the accessibility of exams for all of our students, and supports the University’s commitment to lowering its environmental impact by reducing the amount of paper required for exams.

The success of digital exams at Newcastle University is founded on collaboration between academic and professional services colleagues in academic units across the institution, together with the Learning and Teaching Development Service, IT Service, and Exams and Awards Office. This commitment to collaboration and innovation provides a strong foundation as we prepare to meet the challenges of delivering rigorous, authentic, and accessible assessment in the new educational landscape resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Finalist e-Assessment Awards 2020

The Digital Exams Service here at Newcastle has also been recognised as an example of good practice and innovation in the recent JISC report: The future of assessment: five principles, five targets for 2025.

e-Assessment Awards – Selected finalists showcase, 3 June 2020

Continue reading Newcastle University Digital Exams Service announced as finalist in the e-Assessment Awards

Digital exam system usability testing

Are you a member of academic or professional services staff interested in digital exams?

The digital exam system procurement process is going ahead as planned, and we are making adjustments to enable staff to participate in usability testing while remote working. 

We appreciate that this is a very busy time for colleagues across the University. However, it is necessary to go ahead with usability testing now to support the digital exam system procurement process.  If you are interested and have capacity to participate in usability testing your contribution will be very valuable. 

We are looking for volunteers to test digital exam systems, to help assess how user friendly each one is.  Testers’ feedback will be a key part of the evaluation stage of the tender process, and have a direct impact on which digital exam system the University introduces from next academic year.   

Usability testing is open to all University staff.  You can choose to test from the perspective of either: 

An exam administrator testing how to create exam settings, and manage marking and moderation processes.  Approximately 90 minutes per system. 

An academic testing how to create exam questions, and carry out marking and moderation.  Approximately 2 hours per system. 

To participate you need to commit to test all of the systems that meet the University’s mandatory requirements, which we estimate may be between 2 and 4 systems.  This is required to ensure that the evaluation process is fair, and we’ll be able to confirm the number of systems being tested the week before the testing begins.   

Full instructions and video demonstrations will be provided for each testing task. You can complete the testing tasks at any time that suits your schedule over the usability testing period from Monday 1 June to Monday 15 June. 

To register your interest in doing usability testing please complete this form by 12 noon on Tuesday 26 May 2020.  Please contact digital.exams@newcastle.ac.uk with any queries. 

Fast Web view in .pdf documents

When viewing .pdfs online, there is a feature called fast web view. This is meant to help users by opening the first page of the .pdf before the rest of it has loaded, but sometimes this causes an error in Google Chrome. This results in only the first page being visible.

When creating exam questions, please ensure that any .pdfs created to not have fast web view enabled to ensure all students will be able to open the document in any browser.

To check to see if a .pdf has Fast View Enabled, look at the properties of the document (File > Properties). In the bottom right hand corner it will say Fast Web View Enabled: [Yes or No]



PDFs with Fast Web View are normally created from the Adobe suite of software tools. If you are creating a .pdf from Word you will not have this issue.

To disable fast view in Acrobat, go to Edit > Preferences > Documents > Save Settings > Save As optimizes for Fast Web View [deselect] .

Canvas training now available: Book a session now

You can now book onto one hour webinars which will cover the core functionality and exciting new features of Canvas, providing colleagues with the skills and knowledge to set up their Canvas courses ready for the 2020/21 academic year. All sessions are available to book on Elements.

You can find details of sessions below and further information and resources are available at services.ncl.ac.uk/digitallearning/canvas/colleagues/ (including answers to Canvas FAQs) and on NUConnect

Get Started 

Canvas Fundamentals

A one hour introduction suitable for all staff.

Begin your Canvas journey with this workshop which will explain how to navigate the key areas of Canvas and how to utilise Canvas to provide engaging learning materials and communicate with students.

Sign up to Canvas Fundamentals.

Canvas PS session 

For Professional Service colleagues who will be responsible for supporting Canvas in their academic unit.

Sign up to the Canvas PS session.

Find out more with these webinars

Assignments

You will learn about:

  • How students interact with Canvas when submitting assignments.
  • The Canvas Assignment tool and Turnitin Assignments and the differences between them.
  • How to decide what the most appropriate option will be for the assignment(s) you are setting up.

Sign up to Canvas Assignments.

Quizzes

 You will learn:

  • How students interact with Canvas when completing quizzes.
  • How to use the powerful quizzes functionality within Canvas. You will see the wide range of question types available and the extensive feedback made possible by the Canvas Rich Content Editor.

Sign up to Canvas Quizzes.

More dates to come

We know that the demands on colleagues mean that many may not be able to engage with the training opportunities at this time. The team will be offering a comprehensive programme of webinars throughout the summer, so we hope that if you wish to participate in a webinar you will be able to do so at a time that fits with all your other commitments.  

You can also find out more about the range of self help resources available on the Canvas website.

For any queries get in touch at Canvas@ncl.ac.uk