The work of the EMA Programme was profiled earlier this month at the annual Blackboard Users’ Conference at the University of Durham.

Head of TEL, Vicki Holmes and EMA Academic Director, Emma Mayhew presented the findings of a recent staff survey exploring the impact of online submission, feedback and grading on the marker assessment experience. Vicki and Emma, together with Yota Dimitriadi and Maddi Davies undertook the survey in the Summer of 2018 to explore the experience of colleagues in SAGES, SAPD and IoE, all Early Adopter or ‘Special Project Schools’.

The presentation explored 7 key themes surrounding the staff experience of online assessment-the reduction of paper handling, working in new online spaces, access, wellbeing, managing marking practices, the speed of marking and training. They put forward a broad range of conclusions for other institutions to consider when undertaking their own change processes. Their observation that this is not one institutional change process but thousands of individual changes processes saw the most number of nodding heads in the audience!

Vicki and Emma were joined at the conference by Helena Bampton, TEL and AV Manager, whose presentation, entitled ‘Reading’s Grade Journey-The Story So Far, outlined the experiences of the EMA Programme’s work to achieve end-to end integration between RISIS and Blackboard. She ran through the experiences of the team in handling a number of technical issues and customisation of the Grade journey process, the work undertaken to identify and manage expectations and experiences working with the Blackboard Project Team. Helena was also able to update the conference on the result of the first EMA integration ‘go-live’ on 3rd January which meant that submission points for assessment/reassessment in Blackboard and Turnitin assignment (in Blackboard) are now automatically created from module data which is transferred from RISIS. Helena’s audience seemed particularly interested to hear about our experience and were keen to photograph most of her slides! She was also able to catch up with members of the audience after the presentation to explore some of the issues identified in more detail.

The conference was a really valuable opportunity for us to share some of the work that we are undertaking on the programme and compare our experiences with others. We certainly hope to return to Durham next year with more updates!