Archive for the ‘mAssessment’ Category

Review of mobile connections: coordinated work around the OU

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Having completed a talk on a range of mobile-related topics and work delivered, underway or in the proposal stages at the OU – for the IET Technology Coffee Morning series – here’s a slightly amended replay to incorporate demos and overlay prompt slides.

Since chaptering the podcast feed isn’t working as I’d hoped, please use the timecodes below to help find something of specific interest ['scrub' around using the playhead/slider below the video]
UPDATE: The timecodes below are also now hyperlinked to the appropriate segment on the IET YouTube channel as an alternate:
00:01:40 Overview
00:03:27 Student Usage [incl. background/context]
00:16:13 Student survey ’09
00:19:57 Mobile VLE beta [VLE1 on Moodle 1.9 – current, incl. staff demo via]
00:26:07 Student survey ’10
00:34:17 Mobile-optimisation: VLE2 [incl. live demos using mobile emulators]
00:50:48 Mobile support [covering some proposals before wider release/publicity]
00:59:07 Mobile coordination [practitioner info, strategy, mobile-friendliness, improved interfaces]
01:08:06 Mobile web applications and third-parties [reflection on OU web-based approach]
01:12:03 Mobile apps & resources [outline of ePub eBook work]
01:14:40 Mobile exposure [proposal for OU Home mobile]

You may also find the prompt slides useful to identify an area of interest [via]:

Mobile VLE v2 – Quiz improvements

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Another shorter post to be followed up with more detail at a later point… In this v2 of the Mobile VLE, we also intended to offer greater support for quizzes or interactive computer marked assignments, along with whatever integration was feasible with OU eAssessment tools.

In the first release, support for the more common web form-type quiz activties has been mobile optimised – which includes multiple choice, list selections and simple text box answers – as shown in the screenshots below:

In addition, support for questions involving multimedia are also possible through use of HTML5 media players:

As noted elsewhere, keeping parity between desktop and mobile views is important and so this has been rendered to mobile as well (including indicators on completion and correct/incorrect answers). Where question types aren’t currently supported, students receive a note to prompt completion when next at a desktop:

At this present time, drag-and-drop activity support is being worked on, along with rich text answers and those using scientific/maths notation, and the advice currently is that formative quizzes can be carried out while mobile, but students may prefer to conduct timed or summative assessment on more consistent desktop connections and browsers.

Mobile VLE: covering the required featureset

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Since I started this latest series of blog articles with reference to the student survey that gave us the indicators for priority areas for development, I’ll wrap up by going back to this (originally referred to in the student rating blog post).

So, in order of priority for development, now complete:

  • Assessment – scores available more rapidly on StudentHome mobile portal as a result of parallel development
  • Messages – course messages and quick view of forums with unread posts on ‘launchpad’ view, ForumNG also optimised
  • Tasks – ‘tick-boxes’ can be used to keep track of progress, preserved on both mobile and desktop views
  • Planner – the course planner ‘launchpad’ view is optimised to display the current week, but also a quick view of 3, 5 or 9 weeks of activity, depending on course settings. There is also an entire-course view available, and courses without calendar weeks display in full
  • Resources – resource pages and the resource block are optimised and where mobile devices can handle downloadable resource files these will work in addition to Structured Content

To complete the collaborative tools provision, we also included OUWikis and OUBlogs which cross over between tasks, activities and resources.

Remaining areas for development:

  • Calendar – on hold subject to work with Google Apps
  • Search – will follow from a separate integrated search project
  • Glossary – should be able to be done in next development round
  • Objectives – learning objectives are usually implemented as resources, but could be drawn out subject to further verification

A follow up student survey will be available on StudentHome mobile, as before, once the successful release of these new features have been made available in September 2010, where we will also query further the demand for quizzes, eBooks and mobile apps.
In conclusion, many sincere thanks go to Anthony Forth in being able to bring some of this mobile development work ahead of schedule, and for his thoroughness in checking through the latest additions to our mobile-optimised featureset.

Mobile roundup – audio, eBooks, apps and coordination

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

We’re due for a bit of an update on some of the related project strands I think, so here’s an attempt to give quick overviews on what’s happening.

L120 research study into use of Learnosity Voice Response service: The findings and discussion around this innovative use of audio eAssessment have been well received at a number of internal and external sessions. Key elements of student feedback include the “authentic” aspect of working with audio stimuli/prompts and oral responses in this way, the ability to effectively construct a dialogue between pre-recorded audio interweaved between student responses in playback, and the potential to compare with model answers.

Work is now underway by colleagues in FELS to move the development onwards from research study to pilot; from formative to summative assessment (tutor feedback online); to work on OU integration with eAssessment colleagues and Exams; providing many modes of access – mobile phone, landline, Skype, mobile app (iPhone/iPod Touch), online, and to evaluate possibilities in other discipline areas. LIO are now supporting the service licence costs of the pilots (only) as mainstreaming evaluation work is undertaken by other areas in the OU.

ePub eBook technical evaluation and format development: Work has proceeded more sporadically in this area around other priorities and a shifting external market, but is now at a stage to better complement other work being undertaken by LTS in developing a multiple ‘alternative format’ pipeline system that will deliver many different format options. The main challenge remains to ably check that the ePub ‘standard’ is actually delivered consistently across devices/apps and in how to provide instructions or canned text prompts where Structured Content includes online activities.

Mobile ‘shell’ application develelopment: Initial prototyping work to define a method for packaging web content and synchronise with (initially Android) devices is nearing completion. Further consultation will follow in providing packages of learning content for students to use as part of a trial late in 2010. LIO will continue to resource development and exploration in this area.

Mobile coordination website: Commissioned design work is now progressing in bringing together content relating to all aspects of working with mobile technologies at the Open University. The intention is to cover projects researching the pedagogy and impact of mobile learning, pilot projects offering skills development or other aspects of learner support in mobile friendly formats. In addition, provision will be made for advice on using mobile technologies at work (e.g. connecting to the OU’s network or email systems) and updates about the relevant university mobile strategies.

The site will encompass both formal and informal approaches to exploring and working with mobile technologies, primarily providing a space to aggregate content currently available in multiple locations across the university. This will be achieved in part by collating, cross-linking and embedding content from other social/media sites and project pages, including Delicious and Cloudworks.

Some parts of the web site, where appropriate, will be visible to the public, enabling us to raise awareness of the OU’s efforts in this area, but much of the information will only be visible to staff (internal and Associate Lecturers) who are logged in via their OUCU. All pages will be optimised for mobiles and searchable via the intranet. To be discussed as part of the next Mobile SIGUPDATE: Now called mobisite

And finally…last month StudentHome mobile hit a bit of a milestone with over 10,000 unique student visits via mobile devices. So more revisions and development to follow I think!

A summary of some of the work undertaken during 2009 is also now available as a set of case studies in an article in RCETJ, following last year’s Handheld Learning conference.

A ‘very alpha’ build for 2010…but moving along…

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Despite hearing that our work so far on the Mobile VLE will result in a reduced initial offering, I’m hoping that this will stimulate further suggestions for features during 2010. Building on the groundwork now reaching the end of the current development cycle (about to go in to ‘code freeze’), the LIO is now commissioning 3 development strands from Q1 2010:

  • Extending the Mobile VLE optimised templates to Resource pages and Structured Content, also reformatting pages with left-hand-side navigation. Evaluating rollout of the template to VLE tools such as forums, wikis and blogs.
  • Enhancing Structured Content so that the work on the ePub format (via XSLT) can be automated and added to the workflow, resulting in an additional link alongside the current ‘printable view’.
  • Exploring mobile application development, particularly to create an ‘umbrella’ application that can allow selection and inclusion of other OU modular apps and WebKit-based resources and activities.

Separate from the development work, we are also now ‘benchmarking’ how other HEIs are increasingly offering mobile services, and how they’re going about this. Most of the publicity we’ve seen on this tends to be on campus-based services with little mention of teaching and learning support, but Mike Innes will be working for us in digging beneath the press releases to uncover more.

And on the external focus note, all of the OU presentations were received well at Handheld Learning and we have the option to include in a RCETJ special issue. [I’ve also included the overview presentation and paper on Slideshare]. Related to this, it was great to see that Gavin Cooney and Learnosity received the Secondary sector Handheld Learning Award for innovation, and that Valérie Demouy from the L120 research study team presented successfully in Toledo.

Updates on wireframes and HHL report

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Firstly, in order to discuss further with stakeholders and other mobile developers in the OU, I’ve updated a series of wireframes building on the design document currently being worked on by our VLE developers:


In addition to the work on the VLE, separate projects are underway that should mean that student assignment information from the eTMA system is updated more promptly, and links to a further improved assessment block on StudentHome mobile will be made, in response to student feedback.

The good news is also that all 3 of our OU papers have been accepted for the Research Strand of the Handheld Learning conference, and there is a further session being given by Gavin Cooney of our contracted company, Learnosity, and also from colleagues in the English in Action project for Bangladesh. I’ve updated my report with the final data from the student survey and will add the presentation we use in our roundtables when I can.

Update on Audio eAssessment

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

And the third part of the project update:

To inform the discussions around using multimedia in eAssessment beyond some current models where audio or video are used as the stimulus to a question (i.e. students playback a file and then reflect or comment on this via text response), an opportunity arose to work with a well-regarded external company with experience in this area at scale – Learnosity. Shortly afterwards, a teaching and learning research study required a mobile-based investigation into how to reuse some DVD-ROM resources where students currently can record their own voice on desktops, to practice and compare with model answers.

The Learnosity ‘Voice Response’ system seemed appropriate for customisation for OU usage, working with the L120 Intermediate French research group. Using a keypad based navigation system (akin to phone banking), students can access the next available formative speaking and listening exercise based on resources already available to them on DVD-ROM. Depending on the question type, it is also possible for students to take part in a structured conversation, to hear their voice interspersed between the prompts played back in review mode at the end of the activity – a feature unavailable on DVD-ROM. Students can then review any of the activities online and comment further (with the option for tutors to comment also if submitted for validation).

Although usage within the study is currently lower than expected due to timing, the Learnosity approach has also now been offered more widely to L120 students as part of revision work they can undertake over summer in preparation for their ECAs. Extending the usability of the web interface further for full review of activities while mobile, Learnosity are also in the final stages of implementing an iPhone application to get around the limitations of Adobe Flash audio visualisation and playback on devices, and to feed back to our own OU development teams who are interested/tasked with creating mobile applications.

The majority of current efforts to provide for a Mobile VLE do concentrate around improving (mobile) web access to course websites, learning from the OU Library and StudentHome mobile approaches. It has also been discussed and accepted that in order to support intermittent connectivity and potentially large downloads of mixed media, the OU also need to investigate application development further, which complements work underway in KMi and IET on adaptations from other fixed media and also on learning objects.

Updates – projects and course development

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Mobile VLE – a student survey is currently being reviewed by our SRPP team, and will hopefully be targetted initially at exisiting users of StudentHome mobile and our mobile learners to help shape the priorities for design work from summer onwards. The plan then is to get wider feedback on sample designs, possibly with student usability trials. Development work is already underway to ensure that VLE users on devices can interact better with text-based tools.

eBooks – after an initial technical review (report available soon), the formats selected for further development of transformational code are Mobipocket and ePub open eBook format, which provide for best portability across format, best extensibility for a variety of uses and are the most closely based on standards.

Audio eAssessment – initial work by the L120 Intermediate French team with our contractors Learnosity has yielded an effective voice response system for students to engage with speaking and listening activities using their phones. Mobile phone review of a structured conversation is also possible, currently beyond the capabilities of equivalent DVD-ROM approaches and further work will be undertaken to ensure that a separate student review web interface can be accessed on devices. Initial work for an iPhone, then Google Phone app is expected to follow. Further discussions will then take place on the wider coordination of ‘Audiovisual eAssessment’ activities.

Mobile course learning design and staff development – plans are also underway to initiate cross-faculty work in considering what elements of course delivery are most suitable for mobile learners, and how much content can be specifically tailored in a small number of pilot courses to be nominated by faculty members of the Learning Innovation Steering Group. Further work is also expected in the Education and Professional Development area in the next academic year, which I will update on when confirmed.

Switch to our mobile site