Category Archives: OLAF

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

OLAF Service Capacity

Due to the success of the OLAF service and the capacity to support online exams across LTDS, Exams and Awards and NUIT, the service is currently not available to support new online exams for fewer than 30 students during the assessment periods.  New exams for more than 30 students will go onto a waiting list and be considered based on student numbers, with exams with highest numbers of students being prioritised.

Outside the formal exam period there is no capacity for additional in semester assessments, however The OLAF Service will continue to support all online exams that have previously used the service.

Resit exams  cannot be supported through the OLAF service if there are less than 15 students, the OLAF service will not be available for these exams. The exams could still be run through Blackboard, although this would be without the use of the locked down browser or the University invigilators. Staff can utilise self-help resources well in advance of the resit assessment periods if they wish to run the exam online themselves.

Technology Enhanced Learning Drop-in Semester 2

Academic and professional services colleagues: Have you got a question about a particular learning technology? Do you want to find out if technology can enhance an existing teaching and learning activity? Do you have a great idea and want to know if technology can help you deliver it?

There is no need to book, just turn up and our learning enhancement and technology advisers will be on hand to help you. No question is too small!

Come along on:
Tuesday 5 March
12:00-14:00
USB Atrium

If you can’t make this one, don’t worry,  there will be more over the next few months at locations across campus. Further details will be published here.

If your questions relates to School (or Faculty) specific software we may not be able to help, but we hope we can signpost you to the correct support.

Any questions? Get in touch ltds@ncl.ac.uk

Technology Enhanced Learning Drop-ins

Academic and professional services colleagues: Have you got a question about a particular learning technology? Do you want to find out if technology can enhance an existing teaching and learning activity? Do you have a great idea and want to know if technology can help you deliver it?

There is no need to book, just turn up and our learning enhancement and technology advisers will be on hand to help you. No question is too small!

Come along on:
Wednesday 5 December
12:00-14:00
Courtyard entrance, Old Library Building

No need to book, just turn up on the day.

If you can’t make this one, don’t worry,  there will be more over the next few months at locations across campus. Further details will be published here.

If your questions relates to School (or Faculty) specific software we may not be able to help, but we hope we can signpost you to the correct support.

Any questions? Get in touch ltds@ncl.ac.uk

How is an OLAF exam run?

  1. The Exams Office arrange invigilation and technical support.
  2. Students log into Blackboard using Respondus LockDown Browser and navigate to the exam and await further instructions.
  3. When the exam starts, students are instructed to turn over a printed slip to find a secret password that allows them to start the exam itself.
  4. Each question is displayed on a separate page.
  5. Students can move backwards and forwards through the exam using the next and previous buttons or the ‘Question Completion Status‘ bar.
  6. If students have any problems during the exam, the invigilators and computing officers assist.

Other online assessment and feedback tools

There are a range of online assessment and feedback tools that may be better suited to your needs (and those of your students).

Group Work

  • WebPA allows students to assess each others contribution to group work. Contact OLAF Admin.

Essays

Turnitin now provides tools for giving students feedback and facilitating Peer feedback on written work in addition to plagiarism checking:

  • Turnitin Feedback Studio – Mark essays and access feedback online. Includes reusable comments and marking Rubrics.
  • PeerMark – Allows students to score and review the work of their peers.

Maths, Statistics and other disciplines

NUMBAs – Whilst some mathematical testing is possible though Blackboard, NUMBAs, developed by the School of Mathematics and Statistics here at Newcastle, offers more sophisticated assessment. It is used by several schools across the institution. See also http://numbas.mathcentre.ac.uk/

Checking an OLAF test and settings using the ‘checkexam’ web page

As a member of staff who is running an OLAF exam, you will be sent an email containing the link to the exam check page when your exam is ready for you to check. The exam check page makes it easier to check OLAF exam questions and settings (randomisation and feedback to students). Exams will appear on this page if they have the word OLAF in the title (e.g. ‘BIO1001 23rd May 2017 OLAF’) and the Available from setting is for a date in the future.

Please read the notes below before using the page.

Notes:

  • If you click the links on the page you will need to log into Blackboard with your standard username and password.
  • If you believe the settings are wrong, please contact OLAF Admin so that we can make the changes for you and ensure they are not reset later incorrectly. Some of the options we use for exams may seem counter-intuitive. They may be set as they are for a reason.
  • The start and end times are deliberately set to be available early (30 minutes before the start) and become unavailable 60 minutes after the finish. This is to allow students to get logged in and ready to enter the exam password at the start time.The extra time allows for students entitled to extra time and empowers the invigilator to give extensions if the group or individual students experience technical issues. The invigilator tells the students when to stop.
  • The test is only visible to students during the Available from and Available to period. Even then, a password is required. The password is changed after the exam starts.

 Overview

The page consists of a table with data about the exam and links to Edit and View the test and settings. Click the image below to expand and see the explanations.

To access the page use the link that has been emailed to you by the OLAF team.

Checking settings:

  • Please check the Available from and Available to columns to check the dates are correct (and that the time is correct with half an hour before, and 45 minutes after the official start and end times)
  • Please check the columns for Randomise question and Scores are automatically released to students to make sure they are correct for your exam.
  • Please check the Title of the exam. This is what the students will see in the exam room. Please contact olafop@ncl.ac.uk if you think this will not be meaningful to them. This is particularly important if there are exams in similar subject areas taking place, or if the same is exam is happening under two module codes. Delays can occur if students click the wrong link.

To edit the test or see the test in it’s entirety, click Edit the test. Sign in with your standard (Blackboard) username and password.

To see the test as a student would see it, you need to know the password:

  1. Click View the test options, log in with your Blackboard username and scroll down the screen to find and note the password.
  2. Return to the exam check page (the link that has been emailed to you by the OLAF team) and click Check student view.
  3. Log in with your standard username and password.
  4. A screen will open showing the instructions for the exam (this includes general information about the exam, as well as any specific instructions that have been created).  Click Continue to move to the password screen.
  5. Enter the exam password you noted earlier, and click Submit.
  6. Work through the questions using the forward and backward arrows.

 

Regrading questions individually

If a question needs to be removed or the answer key changed and regraded for all students who have taken a test, you can do this by editing the test and regrading (separate post).

It is also possible to manually overwrite the automatic grades on a question for each student. This is particularly useful if you have used text entry questions (e.g. fill in the blank). For fill in the blank questions, you may just want to focus on the students who have submitted answers that are marked as incorrect and think about updating the test for the following year to account for different spellings etc.

To overwrite the automatic grade for a question:

  1. Go to the module/organisation in Blackboard and click Grade Centre, then Full Grade Centre under Control Panel. 
  2. Find the column for your exam/test. You may need to scroll to the right to find it.
  3. Use the drop down menu on the Column Header for your exam to access the Grade Questions feature.
  4. You will see a list of the questions. Click the response number on the right hand side to start grading that question.
  5. You can choose to regrade anonymously by ticking the box at the top left. Click Edit next to any given answer to make the change.

Changing the instructions students see in a test

You can add some instructions to a test to explain how it will be marked, how to enlarge text and how to manipulate image sizes etc.

Note: The instructions appear at the top of each question. Avoid having too much instruction as this will push the questions down the page.

How to add/edit instructions.

1. Either

Go to the course and the area where the test is deployed. Use the drop-down menu to the right of the test name to Edit the test; 

OR

Go to Course Tools under Control Panel, Tests, Test Canvas and click the drop-down to the right of the test name and click Edit).

2. Click the drop-down menu next to the test name at the top of the screen.

3. Scroll down to find the instructions box. Type the instructions and click Submit.

 

Changing the password for an exam

For an official OLAF exam, the password is changed after half an hour. This means that if a student leaves the room, they cannot access the test with the original password (they need to talk to the invigilator).

If you are managing the test yourselves, e.g. for a resit or extraordinary sitting, you may wish to do this yourself. (Contact olaf.admin@ncl.ac.uk first if you need help setting up a copy of the exam).

To change the password:

1. Locate the test in the course.

2. Hover over the drop down menu to the right of the assignment name. Use the drop down arrow to the right of the test name to access the  ‘Edit Settings‘ option.

3. Scroll down to 2.Test Availability, the last item is the password (see screenshot below). Make the change and scroll down and click Submit.