Announcing the University’s new Digital Exam System: Inspera Assessment

In September 2021 we will be launching a new system for centrally supported digital exams, called Inspera Assessment. Implementing the system will enable the Digital Exam Service to: 

  • Deliver secure locked down present-in-person exams on University computers and students’ own laptops, monitored by University invigilators 
  • Ensure that digital exams are accessible to all our students, and enhance the student experience of exams 
  • Increase the University’s digital exam capacity in the long term 
  • Enable more authentic exams by introducing new functionality

New exam types possible with Inspera will include:  

  • Students taking written exams online, by typing their answers on computer, and incorporating drawings or written calculations done on paper into their online answers where needed. 
  • Allowing access to specific online resources or applications during a secure exam, using allow listing functionality. 

Introducing Inspera is a big step forward for education, assessment and feedback at Newcastle University.  Adopting a specialist digital exam system allows us to do much more than would be possible if we continued to use the Virtual Learning Environment for digital exams.

Choosing a digital exam system 

Inspera has been selected as our digital exam system following a rigorous procurement process, which began with requirements mapping workshops in February 2020, attended by over 60 academic and professional services staff.  The procurement was postponed for a year as a result of the global pandemic, and restarted in semester 2 2020/21 when colleagues had the opportunity to feed in any new or updated requirements via an online survey.   

Once the tender was issued key digital exams stakeholders contributed to a rigorous evaluation process to decide on the system that best fit our requirements.  Students and staff were invited to volunteer for usability testing in each system that met the mandatory technical requirements. The team are very grateful to the 36 colleagues, and 13 undergraduate and postgraduate students, who completed a total of approximately 150 hours of usability testing between them! 

Inspera scored the highest overall for both usability, and for technical and functional requirements. 

Rolling out Inspera 

As standard all 2021/22 modules that have a present-in-person digital exam in MOFS will use Inspera.  If the public health situation requires, it will be possible for these modules to use the system for open book take home exams.

Numbas maths assessment system remains an option digital exams that need specialist mathematics functionality.

The system will be available for additional new digital exams from 2022/23 onwards.  There will be opportunities in the coming months to see demonstrations of the software, and learn more about the new types of assessment that it makes possible.  If you would like to learn more now, please contact digital.exams@newcastle.ac.uk

How to get started  

The Digital Exams Service team will contact all 2021/22 module teams with a digital exam in their MOF at the beginning of September, with details of the process for preparing their exam. 

Training will also launch in September 2021, and all colleagues who will be using Inspera in the new academic year are encouraged to sign up.   

Online resources to help students prepare for a digital exam will be published in September, and students will also be able to try out a demo exam in Inspera to help familiarise themselves with the system. 

If you are interested in introducing a new digital exam using Inspera in future, or if you have any queries about a 2021/22 digital exam, please contact digital.exams@newcastle.ac.uk

Assessment resources on Digital Learning website

Resources are available to help staff prepare for the semester 2 assessment period, including: 

Exams

Assignment set up 

  • Guidance is available on whether to use a Canvas Assignment or a Turnitin Assignment
  • It is important that module teams agree which assignment type to use before it is set up in Canvas, and that marking is done in the correct tool. SpeedGrader (link to Canvas Orientation course) must be used for a Canvas Assignment, Turnitin Feedback Studio (link to screencast) must for a Turnitin Assignment. 
  • When an assignment is created, the maximum number of marks available (for example 100) must be entered in the Points field.  The points should never be set as zero, as this causes technical issues. 

Marking and moderation 

Further help 

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. 

Introducing the digital exams service

Building on the solid foundations of OLAF provision, and the successful first 2 years of the Diversifying and Expanding Online Exam Provision project, the University’s Technology Enhanced Learning Sub-Committee have approved the launch of a new combined Digital Exams service.

The story so far …

Newcastle University’s Online Assessment and Feedback (OLAF) Service has been running high stakes secure online exams using Blackboard’s test tool since 2007/08. The 13 years since that first exam have seen OLAF come of age, supported by well-established institutional processes that ensured all 132 OLAF exams in 2018/19 went smoothly.

In 2017/18 the Diversifying and Expanding Online Exam Provision project was launched, and the first of some new types of digital exams were piloted using software called WISEflow. Bring Your Own Device was introduced, enabling students to use their own laptops to sit a secure digital exam. Alongside this, moving essay and long written answer exam questions from paper to online has also become possible for the first time.

Continue reading “Introducing the digital exams service”

Expanding and diversifying online exam provision

Student working on a computer

In 2017/18 academic year the University launched a project that aims to make online summative assessment possible for a wide range of assessment types and in non-cluster environments, which is one of the objectives in the TEL Roadmap.

The project focuses on two key areas:

  • Expanding the types of online exams that we can deliver here at Newcastle
  • Exploring the possibility of students using their own laptops to take secure online exams

Continue reading “Expanding and diversifying online exam provision”

Learning and Teaching Conference 2017: Reimagining Teaching Excellence

In 2017 the Newcastle University annual Learning and Teaching Conference  took place on 27 March 2017.

Conference theme: Reimagining Teaching Excellence

Newcastle’s commitment to excellent teaching is at the heart of our University mission, and is crucial to our aim of providing an educational experience that challenges and supports our students to fulfil their potential.  At a time when external agencies are seeking to define this for us, it is more important than ever that we have a clear understanding of what we as an academic community understand by learninhe phrase ‘teaching excellence’.

Teaching excellence was therefore the focus of the 2017 Conference and the programme for the day provided an opportunity to:

  • hear an external view point on teaching excellence from keynote speaker Paul Blackmore – Professor of Higher Education at The Policy Institute, King’s College London
  • hear about what our staff and students view as teaching excellence
  • see examples of teaching practice and innovation from across the institution
  • contribute to how the University will pursue excellence in learning and teaching in the future through a session on the development of our new University Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Strategy.

 

Resources From The Day

Introduction Presentation from Professor Suzanne Cholerton

PowerPoint slides and ReCap recording

Keynote – Professor Paul Blackmore – Professor of Higher Education at The Policy Institute at King’s College London

PowerPoint slides and ReCap recording

Teaching Excellence at Newcastle

Newcastle Educators Group – Dr Vanessa Armstrong (Biomedical Sciences), Dr Sara Marsham (Marine Science & Technology) and Dr JC Penet (Modern Languages)

PowerPoint slides and ReCap recording

Teaching Excellence Awards (TEAs)

Chris Duddy (Education Officer, NUSU), David Jones (Assistant Development Officer, HaSS Faculty) and Joe Barton (Representation Support Worker, NUSU)

PowerPoint slidesReCap recording and TEAs Report 2016

Development of Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Strategy

Facilitated by Craig Smith from Flint Spark Consulting.

PowerPoint slides and ReCap recording (audio only)

Herschel Learning Lab – experiences of use

ReCap recording

Mrs Ulrike Thomas – Research Associate, Education Communication and Language Sciences) PowerPoint slides
Dr Ellen Tullo – Lecturer, Biomedical Sciences PowerPoint slides
Professor TT Arvind – Professor of Law, Newcastle Law School PowerPoint slides
Dr James Stanfield – Lecturer, Education Communication and Language Sciences Website
Miss Katie Wray – Lecturer, SAgE Faculty Office PowerPoint slides

Posters

View the list of poster presentations at the 2017 Learning and Teaching Conference, and view the posters online.