Rethinking assessment design, to improve the student/staff experience when dealing with video submissions

a marker reviews a screencast video submission on their laptop 

Rachel Warner, School of Arts and Communication Design                                                     Rachel.Warner@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

Jacqueline Fairbairn, Centre for Quality Support and Development                                     j.fairbairn@reading.ac.uk  

Overview

Rachel in Typography and Graphic Communication (T&GC) worked with the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team to rethink an assignment workflow, to improve the student/staff experience when dealing with video submissions. Changes were made to address student assessment literacies, develop articulation skills, support integration between practice and reflection, and make use of OneDrive to streamline the archiving and sharing of video submissions via Blackboard.

This work resulted in students developing professional ‘work skills’ through the assessment process and the production of a toolkit to support future video assessments.

Objectives

  • Improve staff and student experiences when dealing with video assignment submissions. Specifically, streamlining workflows by improving student assessment literacy and making use of university OneDrive accounts.
  • Support students to develop professional skills for the future, through assessment design (developing digital literacies and communication skills).
  • Provide an authentic assessment experience, in which students self-select technologies (choosing software and a task to demonstrate) to answer a brief.

Context

The activity was undertaken for Part 1 students learning skills in design software (e.g. Adobe Creative apps). The assignment required students to submit a ‘screencast’ video recording that demonstrated a small task using design software.

Rachel wanted to review the process for submitting video work for e-assessment, and find ways to streamline the time intensive marking process, particularly in accessing and reviewing video files, without compromising good assessment practice. This is also acknowledged by Jeanne-Louise Moys, T&GC’s assessment and feedback champion: “Video submissions help our students directly demonstrate the application of knowledge and creative thinking to their design and technical decisions. They can be time-consuming to mark so finding ways to streamline this process is a priority given our need to maintain quality practices while adapting to larger cohorts.’”

The TEL team was initially consulted to explore processes for handling video submissions in Blackboard, and to discuss implications on staff time (in terms of supporting students, archiving material and accessing videos for marking). Designing formative support and improving the assessment literacy of students was also a key driver to reduce the number of queries and technical issues when working with video technologies.

Implementation

Rachel consulted TEL, to discuss:

  • balancing the pedagogic implications of altering the assignment
  • technical implications, such as submission to Blackboard and storage of video

To address the issue of storing video work, students were asked make use of OneDrive areas to store and submit work (via ‘share’ links). Use of OneDrive encouraged professional behaviours such as adopting a systematic approach to file naming, and it meant the videos were securely stored on university systems using a well-recognised industry standard platform.

To further encourage professional working, students were required to create a social media account to share their video. YouTube was recommended; it is used prolifically by designers to showcase work and portfolios, and across wider professional settings.

Students were provided with a digital coversheet to submit URLs for both the OneDrive and YouTube videos.

The most effective intervention was the introduction of a formative support session (1.5hr). Students practiced using their OneDrive area, set up YouTube accounts and reviewed examples of screencasts. This workshop supported students to understand the professional skills that could be developed through this medium. The session introduced the assessment requirements, toolkit, digital coversheet and allowed students to explore the technologies in a supported manner (improving students’ assessment literacy!)

The assignment instructions were strategically revised, to include information (‘hints and tips’) to support the students’ development of higher production values and other associated digital literacies for the workplace (such as file naming conventions, digital workflows, and sourcing online services).

Students were provided with the option to self-select recording/editing software to undertake the screencast video. Recommended tools were suggested, that are free to use and which students could explore. ‘Screencast-o-matic’ and ‘WeVideo’ provide basic to intermediate options.

Impact

Marking the submissions was made easier by the ability to access videos through a consistent format, using a clearly structured submission process (digital coversheet). The ability to play URL links directly through OneDrive meant Rachel was able to store copies of the videos into a central area for future reference. Students also provided a written summary of their video, highlighting key video timings that demonstrate marking criteria (so the marker does not have to watch whole video).

Rachel rationalised her approach to marking by developing a spreadsheet, which allowed her to effectively cross reference feedback against the assessment criteria (in the form of a rubric) and between assignments. This greatly speeded up the marking workflow and allowed Rachel to identify patterns in students work, where common feedback statements could be applied, as appropriate.

The assessment highlighted gaps in students existing digital literacies. The majority of students had not made a video recording before and many were apprehensive about speaking into a microphone. After the completion of the screencasts, previously unconfident students noted in their module reflections that the screencast task had developed their confidence to communicate and explore a new technology.

Reflections

The modifications to the assessment:

  • Reflected professional digital competencies required of the discipline;
  • Allowed students to explore a new technology and way of working in a supported context; and,
  • Built confidence, facilitated assessment literacy, and encouraged reflection.

Future modifications to the screencast submission:

  • Peer review could be implemented, asking students to upload videos to a shared space for formative feedback (such as Facebook or a Blackboard discussion board).
  • The digital coversheet had to be downloaded to access URL links. In future, students could paste into the submission comment field, for easier access when marking.
  • Rachel is developing a self-assessment checklist to help students reflect on the production values of their work. The summative assessment rubric is focused on video content, not production values, however, it would be useful for students to get feedback on professional work skills. For example, communication skills and use of narrative devices which translate across other graphic mediums.

Toolkit basics:

a thumbnail image of a toolkit document, full access available via links in webpage

  • Outline task expectations and software options, give recommendations
  • Source examples of screencasts from your industry, discuss with students.
  • Provide hints and tips for creating effective screencasts.
  • Provide submission text. Consider asking students to use the ‘submission comment’ field to paste links to their work, for quick marker access to URLs.
  • Plan a formative workshop session, to practice using the software and go through the submission process (time invested here is key!).
  • Create a self-assessment checklist, to enhance the production quality of videos and highlight transferrable skills that can be developed by focusing on the quality of the production.
  • Consider creating a shared online space for formative peer-feedback (e.g. Blackboard discussion forum).
  • Consider using a marking spreadsheet to cross-reference feedback and highlight good examples of screencasts that can be utilised in other teaching.

Links

Screencast example: (YouTube link) This screencast was altered and improved after submission and marking, taking onboard feedback from the assessment and module. The student noted ‘After submission, I reflected on my screencast, and I changed the original image because it was too complex to fit into the short time that I had available in the screencast. I wanted to use the screencast to show a skill that I had learned and the flower was simple enough to showcase this’. Part of the module was to be reflective and learn from ‘doing’, this screencast is an example of a student reflecting on their work and improving their skills after the module had finished.

Screencast example: (YouTube link) This screencast was a clear and comprehensive demonstration of a technique in PhotoShop that requires multiple elements to achieve results. It has a conclusion that demonstrates the student’s awareness that the technique is useful in other scenarios, other than the one demonstrated, giving the listener encouragement to continue learning. The student has used an intro slide and background music, demonstrating exploration with the screencast software alongside compiling their demonstration.

Screencast example: (YouTube link) This demonstrates a student who is competent in a tool, able to use their own work (work from another module on the course) to demonstrate a task, and additionally includes their research into how the tool can be used for other tasks.

Other screencast activity from the Typography & Graphic Communication department from the GRASS project:  (Blog post) Previous project for Part 1s that included use of screencasts to demonstrate students’ achievements of learning outcomes.

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