On Tuesday 4th September 2018, 74 colleagues representing 34 UK Higher Education institutions attended the EMA Programme, ‘Remaking Marking Conference’ in the Meadow Suite. The conference enabled colleagues from across the sector to come together to share good practice and to discuss challenges and opportunities involved in the implementation of electronic assessment.

A series of guest speakers presented a summary of their institution’s approach to embedding EMA and a discussion of the effectiveness of this approach. Dr Rachel Maxwell, the Head of Learning & Teaching Development at University of Northampton, presented first and delivered a brief history of implementation at the University of Northampton followed by an overview of the pedagogical transformation that EMA delivered. Dr Maxwell included debate on a number of issues including the opportunity created by electronic management of assessment for colleagues across the sector to reflect on their assessment practices asking whether, for example, exams were more of a habit than geared towards the delivery of learning outcomes.

Dr Emma Mayhew, the Academic Director of the EMA programme at the University of Reading, then explored the normalisation of online assessment across the sector, drivers for change and the various barriers faced by institutions when designing and implementing EMA.  The presentation explored new online marking opportunities including Quickmarks, audio feedback and rubrics and concluded by indicating that, whilst some aspects of EMA represent a complex challenge for the sector, several providers have been able to address key concerns and begin to make full use of new functionality to enhance the assessment experience.

Stuart Hepplestone, representing Sheffield Hallam University, began his presentation by outlining the assessment journey and reported on a number of  technical solutions, bespoke customisations, and the processes undertaken by Sheffield Hallam to implement the University’s vision.  He then addressed the challenges and lessons learned in relation to institutional culture, stakeholder attitudes and technology since full implementation of online management of assessment at Sheffield Hallam in September 2017.

Dr Pete Lonsdale, Learning Technology Manager from Keele University, described the online platform he created for administering practical assessments in Nursing and Midwifery. This platform streamlined the assessment process, offered new methods of providing feedback, and highlighted areas of practical support that required refinement or clarification. The presentation included comment on the need to adapt working methods and practices to new technologies, and the potential need to revisit or revise traditional pedagogic principles (plus some Lego!).

The final speaker was Dr Simon Kent from Brunel University who discussed whether digital exam assessment constitutes ‘evolution’ or ‘revolution’. As an institution, Brunel is confident as it explores the deployment of digital examination using Wiseflow. A limited trial has been conducted at Brunel involving software that facilitated Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and short essay based responses. Several attendees were particularly interested in the information about digital exams that was included in several papers and it is clear that it is a developing field for several UK Higher Education institutions.

The conference included space for networking and for the sharing of good practice; after lunch, attendees answered an interactive questionnaire on Mentimeter where they were asked to rate their knowledge of learning technology and online marking processes. The questionnaire revealed that knowledge of online exams and system integration was comparatively low compared to online submission and online marking.

The conference concluded with an enthusiastic whole-room discussion where the speakers responded to a variety of questions that has been posted on Mentimeter. This final section of the day was devoted to discussion of good practice within a wholly collegiate atmosphere.

Attendees were asked to complete a questionnaire rating the organisation and impact of the conference: 100% of responses rated the event ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ and 97% of responses indicated that the conference was likely to enhance their own assessment practice. The aim of the conference was to overcome EMA barriers and make the most of new functionality to deliver a better assessment experience for all stakeholders, and the feedback, together with the atmosphere of the day, suggest that this aim was fully achieved.

Check out the full Twitter Feed for the event for more on #RemakingMarking.