2010 International CAA Conference Q&A

Posted by Mel Lynch

We are looking forward to the 2010 International CAA Conference 20th-21st of July in Southampton on the UK’s South Coast. This  two-day research-led conference hosted by the University of Southampton and organised by its School of Electronics and Computer Science and the Institute of Educational

Lester Gilbert

Technology at the Open University aims to advance the understanding and application of information technology to the assessment process.

I recently spoke with two members of the conference organising committee — Lester Gilbert and Dr Bill Warburton — about this event and some of the trends in e-assessment that will factor prominently in the conference programme. Lester chairs the CAA Conference Local Arrangements Committee and is a Senior Lecturer in IT within the Learning Societies Lab Research Group of the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science.  Bill, the Conference Programme Chair, is CAA Officer at the University of Southampton and a thought-leader on the uptake of technology-enhanced approaches to assessment (as well as a presenter at past Questionmark user events).

Q: What are the major themes of the 2010 CAA conference?

Bill:  A key theme that has already emerged is new ways to enhance student learning through e-assessment. We have papers on topics such as using student contributions to online discussions as assessment tools; the key obstacles to widespread adoption of e-assessment in higher education across the UK; and effective ways to mitigate the emerging threat of remotely administered online exams being compromised by identity fraud.

Lester:  We have sought a wide range of papers relevant to e-assessment and expect some major themes to emerge during the conference. We look forward to them being elucidated in the closing address by Questionmark’s Steve Lay!

Q: Who are some of the speakers who figure prominently in this year’s program – and what will they be talking about?

Dr. Bill Warburton

Bill: The keynote address will be delivered by Dr Paul Brna, Educational Consultant, who will focus on the importance of using e-assessment to provide feedback to learners.

Bobby Elliot will address the fact that student contributions to online discussions are being used increasingly as an assessment tool, but suitable methodologies and standards for their use have been slow to emerge. His “review of rubrics for assessing online discussions” raises some useful points that may inform the directions of future research on the topic.

Nora Mogey will provide an analysis of the key obstacles to the widespread use of summative e-assessment in UK higher education, which addresses the topic of developing institutional strategies for the large scale adoption of online assessment in the future.

Lastly, Kikelomo Apampa’s suggestions for  “Blob-based” Presence Verification may form the basis for innovative and  effective ways to mitigate the emerging threat of remotely administered online exams being compromised by identity fraud.

Q: Why do you think events such as CAA are beneficial for the industry?

Bill:  The CAA Conference has always been an inspirational event where new ideas are forged by delegates into fresh ways of developing assessments practically — and also into new research initiatives.

Lester:  It plays an important role in supporting and facilitating the meeting of ideas and people, keeping up to date with recent developments and being informed about likely future directions.

Q: This will be the first year that the CAA Conference will be held in Southampton. Can you tell me about the new venue and the move?

Lester:  Southampton has gained a reputation as a centre of excellence in e-assessment research and development, particularly in its work on the development of a suite of tools for supporting the IMS QTI interoperability standard and recent reports on e-assessment quality and feedback. As this conference did not take place last year, this year a primary goal is to re-launch the event, reconnect it with its heritage of invaluable papers and re-establish it as an international academic platform for e-assessment research.

*The 2010 International CAA Conference will be held at the DeVere Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton on the 20th and 21st of July.  For further information and registration visit the conference Web site.

Questionmark Conference Close-up: Influence the Future of ADL SCORM

Posted by Joan Phaup

Steve Lay

Daniel R. Rehak, a technical advisor to the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL), is responsible for technical and strategic advice primarily about the direction and refinement of ADL’s activities in the development of SCORM and content repositories and registries. As part of its plan to release an enhanced, harmonized version of its SCORM interoperability standards in 2011, ADL is actively seeking the views of SCORM and AICC community members. Dan is coming to the Questionmark Users Conference, takinig place in Miami March 14 – 17,  to hear what customers hope to see in an updated version of SCORM. He and Questionmark Integration Team Lead Steve Lay will co-facilitate a discussion on Shaping the Future of ADL SCORM:  What’s On Your Wish List?

I recently asked Dan about his ADL work and his desire to sit down with Questionmark users to discuss the future of SCORM:

Q: How would you define SCORM?

Daniel Rehak

A: SCORM is a model — a collection of different interoperability standards that for the most part were originally created to work on their own. SCORM explains how to make them work together with the objective of taking learning activities, managed by a learning management system, and making them portable, interoperable and reusable across different vendors and technology platforms. In addition to being used by many commercial organizations and the military, it’s used for K12 education in the UK and Korea. It’s used widely all over the world, notably in higher education and industry.

Q: Could you tell me about your role with ADL SCORM?

A: I’m involved in planning the ADL SCORM update: looking at the form the update will take, who we should talk to, the timeline, the tasks we need to do,  the technical direction, and then communicating those out to various people: vendors, users, and their organizations both here in the US and internationally. I’m also helping ADL upgrading its registry federation model for learning content.

Q: Can you share some details about the planned update to SCORM?

A:  SCORM has not been through a major update since 2004, although we made some minor, incremental changes along the way.  By talking with vendors and user communities, we are finding divergent views about what’s important and what’s lacking — those kinds of things. We know that technology has evolved on the Web.  We also know we have legacies out there: we have people procuring SCORM-based delivery systems today with the expectation that they’re going to be around in a number of years and that they are still going to work. So the objective is to produce an update that is grounded in the reality of what people want to use and what they actually have in place. We have to balance legacy support requirements with new capabilities and requirements. Our goal is to produce an updated, revised and harmonized version of SCORM by late 2011. We are talking to users, talking to adopters and to vendors to find out what things they are planning to put into their products in the short term – say the next 18 months or so. We may not be able to do everything we want to do in that  timeframe, but  our assumption is that things that don’t hit this cycle will get into the next cycle.

Q: What issues are you finding as you talk with people about the future of SCORM?

A: A number of things keep coming up: Web services, different content exchange models, content mark-up languages, assessments – those are the kinds of things that are on the list. What we are trying to do is develop a flexible model that indicates what we feel is important and that vendors can get behind. We also want organizations to be able to add features of their own in harmony with what we are doing. We know we won’t be able to do everything ourselves; we are relying on the community to bring their resources to bear on this and help us collectively move things forward.  We call it harmonization because we want to bring people together and move forward together.

Q: What’s prompted you to attend the Questionmark Users Conference?

A: We’re reaching out to a number of different vendors to find out what their users are interested in. We’ve been in discussions with Questionmark for awhile and this came up as an opportunity to talk with this user segment. Assessments standards are not currently in SCORM, but we know assessments and tracking are things people have said are very important. You have one of the best user communities there to talk to, so we want to talk with them and find out what they see as being important in SCORM as we go forward.

Q: Who should attend this session?

A: Anyone from the SCORM community.  We’ve got different communities that have different levels of adoption. Also, anyone who uses AICC, which has some elements in common with SCORM. They have a significant overlap in what they do and how they do it. We have been in direct communication with AICC about the harmonization and would welcome ideas from their users. Also, from the standpoint of specifications and standards, we’re interested in hearing from anyone with opinions about IMS QTI.

Q: What kind of input are you looking for during your session about the future of SCORM?

A: We want to know what people are currently doing; what problems they’re seeing; what they think in general about assessment and tracking. We’d like to learn more about where they do and don’t use SCORM and why. We’ll also ask what we can change in SCORM to make their lives better.

Come to the conference and let your voice be heard! You can register online or email conference@questionmark.com for further information.