Digital Assessment @Brunel supports the University's aims by digitising examinations in order to enhance the quality of assessment and cultivate a more consistent student experience. Electronic management of assessment, including the online submission, marking, and feedback of students' coursework and examinations has a number of benefits:
- Improving the student experience
- Ease of marking
- Standardisation and consistency of managing assessments
- Increased security
- Opportunities for analytics
Research by the Gartner Group indicates that digital assessment is one of the top 10 strategic technologies for the higher education sector, with countries such as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark adopting government led plans to completely digitise education on a national scale. Our work to implement digital examinations is sector leading in the UK, and we want to share our journey with other institutions.
The project is supported by HEFCE Catalyst Funding for Experimental Innovations in Learning and Teaching 2016.
What are we doing?
In 2015, a Digital Examinations Project Team was formed in order to research digital exams and develop a strategy on how best to implement this at Brunel University London. Since then, we have been working with the Danish company UNIwise and using their assessment platform WISEflow to securely conduct Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) examinations.
Following proof-of-principle with 1 exam in January 2016 (115 students), a capacity-building pilot has been undertaken during 2016/7 with 1300 students in the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences successfully sitting exams using their own laptops:
Dec 2016 2 exams 200 submissions
Jan 2017 2 exams 320 submissions
May 2017 18 exams 1540 submissions
The University will begin a staged implementation of the digital assessment platform in September 2017.
The key areas of focus in the project are:
- Enable Bring-Your-Own-Device examinations so that students have the opportunity to use laptops that they are comfortable and familiar with.
- Capture information on students who do not have a suitable device for exams at an early stage, and consider how to support them.
A range of support mechanisms have been put in place:
- Develop a "Brunel Digital Exams" resource to enable students to be informed, aware, and prepared for their digital examinations, as well as providing offline support.
- Offer Laptop Health Checks to ensure that student devices are maintained and updated.
- Develop an additional support network for staff.
- Revise Examination Policy and Invigilator Guidance.
One of the biggest challenges of implementing digital examinations is ensuring the suitability, resilience and scalability of infrastructure at the various stages of roll-out across the University:
- Boost wifi signals to safeguard against connection loss and supply power sources for longer examinations to minimise battery life concerns.
- Prepare PC labs as alternate venues to accommodate students without suitable devices.
- Provide emergency laptops as provision for students who experience unexpected technical problems with their own devices on the day of exams.
- Collate user feedback from both students and staff, and interpret digital examination data to continually review and inform the project's development.
For the latest updates on the project, see our development blog.
Jisc. 2016. Electronic management of assessment.
GÉANT. 2015. Best Practice Documents.
UCISA. 2016. Survey of Technology Enhanced Learning: case studies.
UNINETT. 2017. eCampus Summary
EUNIS - Digital Assessment: current and future developments across Europe
HEPI - Rebooting learning for the digital age: What next for technology-enhanced higher education?
Jisc - Online exams: migration or transformation?
PRWire - Gartner Highlights the Top 10 Strategic Technologies Impacting Education in 2015
UNIwise - Digital exam platform provider