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Alex Furr: My dream: Making eMarking the preferred choice for academics

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Alex Furr
11 January 2013

eSubmission of work has been around since the dawn of man. OK well not that long. But for certain subject areas (ECS for example) at least as long as the internet has been mainstream.

Students love eSubmission, but staff, on the whole staff haye eMarking it for a vareity of reasons.

These include:
- The perceived cost transfer from students to staff for printing
- Staring at a screen for hours while marking might give them a headache
- They miss the freeform 'scribble on page' approach
- They hate ANY kind of marking

In many cases these fears / annoyances are unfounded, but moving an academic unit from paper to eMarking is always a struggle.

Past experience has given me a number of general pointers on good practice in how to improve the staff eMarking experience, I'd like to explore this area further.

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Apostolos Koutropoulos
4:05pm 12 January 2013

Nice project :-)  I am curious to see how you and the team tackle it (I assume that projects are team based? I still haven't figured that part out yet :-)  ).

That said, I personally would prefer eMarking, but when it comes to reading papers and marking them the iPad and Stylus doesn't work well for me (and I grade a lot during my commute, so word + comments don't work well either ;-)  )

Darren Gash
6:36pm 12 January 2013

Hi Alex. This is a very current and ongoing issue, although moreso for some academics than others. I'm not sure how this would work as a course but happy to input into this if i can - have you already got an idea of learning outcomes, and how these would be assessed (short and long term)? 

Alex Furr
11:01am 13 January 2013

Apostolos - yes I think projects are ream based, I'm also still figuring it out :)

Darren - I have no idea as to how this would work as a course, I must ahve misread the instructions! I just thought it would be interesting to discuss possible options / ideas.

Iniital thoughts are exploring which current tools are best for online marking of the app variety. There are quite a few PDF annotators, some free, other paid.

Would also be intresting to see if there was anyone out there who used a dedicated marking app. The University of Southampton has been using a JISC funded (in house developed) eAssignment tool with mixed results. It would be nice to develop a dedicated app for this, but we'd need to get all requirements and advice / input regarding different marking styles / assignments as possible before we went any further.

A possible outcome of the project would simply by an 'advice' document for those starting to mark online to make their life as easy as possible!

Bill Steele
3:59pm 13 January 2013

This may tie in with my wish to create a staff devlopment module to address the use of Turnitin which includes eMarking. We have quite a bit of experience in moving staff to eMarking but it has been and still is a difficult and time consuming task (4 years so far)

Alex Furr
4:48pm 13 January 2013

Bill - sounds like a great start.I'd be happy to collaborate...

Mark Nichols
11:41pm 13 January 2013

Hiya Alex,

We've recently (last year) embraced online marking at Open Polytechnic, and developed a relaly elegant bespoke solution. We will soon have Turnitin enabled as well. I started on-screen marking about six years ago, and well prefer it to anything paper-based. I'd love to contribute to your project.

Jonathan Vernon
11:31pm 17 January 2013

Yes. Makes sense. I suspect it is being achieved at the Open University, at least on the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) which is ENTIRELY online. It helps to start with this premise. On a personal level it took me a couple of modules and the an iPad to totally give up on paper - everything is read and written on a screen of some kind. The trick is to have everything online in a cloud so you don't ever become dependent on one device and think that by printing out you will 'save' or 'preserve' a document for review or marking. Then to have a clear, though flexible assignment uploading method/set-up ... and have tutors/teachers who know how to use editing/review and marking tools. 

My wife works in Medical Market Research - she has gone from marking up on A1 sheets of paper and working from consultant interviews on audio cassette sent by courrier to everything digitised. It is how the 'world of work' has gone so these are digital literacies and careers skills you are teaching too.


W Brian Whalley
12:18pm 18 January 2013

When e-marking is mentioned there see to be two 'camps' 1) MCQs or similar

2) Essay submission (esp) using Turnitin.

Other models are possible, see eg

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