e-Vocational conference 2015 highlights

In November 2015, the 8th e-Vocational Conference was held in Leeds with a focus on ‘Technology in Support of the Skills Agenda’. This day discussed and looked at the experiences of delivering technology enabled learning and qualifications in the vocational, technical and professional sphere. Here are some of the highlights from this day including a sneak preview from the JISC e-assessment survey which is yet to be released.

Uptake of e-assessment in the UK

It was widely noted that there is still a very slow uptake of e-assessment and exams are largely sat on paper. It is unlikely that there will be a sudden revolution but instead incremental change. Steps are taking place to encourage the adoption of e-assessment such as giving students the opportunity to bring their own devices (BYOD) and the choice to type or handwrite their exams.

Advantages of e-assessment

Although change is slow, the benefits of technology are acknowledged. Some of the key benefits recognised by colleges include:

  • The speed of feedback that can be given to students
  • Geographic flexibility
  • Cost effective

Key outcomes from the Jisc e-assessment survey

Martyn Roads gave an insight into the key findings from the Jisc e-assessment survey which is due to be released shortly. They found that although most organisations carry out some e-assessment, in some it is only a small percentage within an organisation e.g. 50 learners out of 1000. The common experience for those who are carrying out e-assessment is that it is hard to persuade others to embrace it. Many departments are looking for ways of tracking learners and have tried lots of different products but they haven’t found one that meets their exact needs. They need a system that is able to talk to other platforms such as their e-portfolio or testing system. Overall there is a positive outlook for the future and for FELTAG.

Top barriers to e-assessment

The JISC survey revealed some important barriers to the uptake of e-assessment. These included:

  • Lack of appropriate IT support
  • Infrastructure/Wi-Fi
  • Lack of funding
  • Capacity issues e.g. e-testing and room location

The resistance to change by staff was perceived as less of a barrier but it was still noted that staff don’t have the confidence to engage in technology. They prefer to use the current system as they have very little time to develop assessments and feel that there is a lack of direction by OFSTED.

Moving forward with e-assessment

To move forward with implementing e-assessment it will be important to engage staff and create a change in culture.

Overall the conference provided an open forum for discussion and some valuable insights into the management, control and organisation required for the effective use of e-assessment and e-learning.