Catalyst IT and Monash University have been working together to deliver an eAssessment suite of tools (online exams) for Monash University’s student base, with the initial pilot going live in 2018. The use of eAssessments has exploded over the last two years, and in 2019 the joint development team refined the technology and content conversion offering into a stable and campus-ready service offering.
Catalyst and Monash heavily extended the Moodle quiz toolset and user interfaces to deliver the following functional capabilities:
Closer student experience to a traditional paper-based exam
Students can take notes, highlight text and have a full screen work area to write their answers. Monash were extremely focused on an online experience that allows a pivot from the existing paper-based exam which has improved the eAssessment offering.
Improved toolkit for student time management
There have been many iterations of usability improvements to allow students to see which questions they have and have not answered. There are also progress indicators and question flags for questions that might merit a review if time permits. All answers within an exam can be reviewed and changed before the final exam submission.
Extended grading options for teachers and academics
Based on the significant time spent with Monash academics and learning designers during the initial exam pilots, we have added some important capabilities to streamline the marking process. This includes blind reviewing (marking) of the exam submissions, division of grading work across markers (by question types and sections) as well as an auto-grading function for multiple choice questions. On completion, the platform collates the marked exams for final review. This is aimed at logistical improvements to support the academic team to do what they need as part of their considerable effort to grade and review submissions.
Catalyst started the eAssessment project with Monash because the University had recognised that paper-based exams were not aligned with their students’ expectations of a modern experience that prepares them as graduates. Every year Monash spent a considerable amount of time preparing for and administering 360,000 exams. They had become frustrated with the cost and inefficiencies of traditional exam delivery and realised they had an opportunity to innovate and provide a more authentic experience.
Monash felt they should start to assess their students on their skills for today's workforce. The eAssessment platform is being developed as a solution and modern delivery mechanism that provides significant cost and equity advantages for secondary and tertiary education providers.
The eAssessment platform is built on a dedicated instance of the Moodle LMS application, with exam-specific features and customisations. Catalyst and Monash have found that having an exam platform separate from the LMS used for teaching ensures a clean division, as students cannot access eAssessments from the core LMS instance and our eAssessment service can work alongside any LMS that you use.
The eAssessment solution is a secure and robust platform, employing a user friendly interface designed for students by students. We use a locked-down browser which restricts students from accessing unauthorised resources during assessments. It has been built to be inclusive, challenging and authentic to enable students to demonstrate evidence of learning at the appropriate level of study.
Assistance to move from paper-based to digital assessment - eAssessment
The Catalyst support team staff will be on hand to answer questions about the most appropriate format for an exam question, how to structure and value questions in an assessment, and ensure that all student needs are considered. This extends to providing advice on new exam procedures and protocols and how to distribute and support these across your student body. We can liaise with all relevant parts of your organisation to ensure that eAssessment exams are the best solution for your assessment needs.
Benefits of eAssessment
Benefits to students
- Electronic assessments provide a more engaging experience than using traditional paper exams.
- Supports emerging tech and innovation for assessment
- Engaging and flexible question types
- No more handwriting
Benefits to academics
- A wider array of question types that reflect real world scenarios, including multimedia
- Innovative functionality e.g. accessing authorised internet sites, free hand drawing
- Integration with knowledge management - Item bank
- Eliminates difficulty associated with legibility of hand-written responses in marking workflows
- Automatic marking of many question types
- Online marking anywhere, as soon as the exam has finished - no need to wait for paper batching or physical delivery
- Enhanced insights and analytics capability
- Better management tools around the delegation of the marking responsibilities
- Platform-level support of blind marking initiatives
- More flexibility to adjust delivery mode, based on special circumstances of particular students
- Reduces risk of lost exams
- Tracks cohorts longitudinally
Our eAssessment Service includes:
Q: Do I need to be experienced in Moodle LMS to use the eAssessment platform?
A: No experience with Moodle is required by any of the team in order to use the platform for assessment delivery - full training is available.
Q: Can I choose any eProctoring solution?
A: Essentially yes, as long as there is a Moodle plugin or LTI compatibility.
Q: We have a lot of content to convert into a digital format, can you help us?
A: Yes, our eAssessment consultants can help with the bulk of importing and testing.
Q: What happens if a student has an issue during the exam period?
A: This is essentially an institution-level policy decision. Our experience is that it is best to provide several support mediums for the students, allowing them to reach out to the institution both online and by phone in the instance of a serious issue.
Q: Will students have access to their exam results via the eAssessment platform?
A: Yes, if required. Although generally the notification of exam results to students might make use of another institutional solution (e.g. student management system).
Q: We want to set up students in the eAssessment platform using our student management system, can we integrate?