c) Support the deployment of learning technologies
The digital learning team works based on a product ownership model and as such each Learning Technologist ’owns’ a technology and its service. I own Turnitin for assessment and similarity checking and Mahara for e-portfolios. I also own Blackboard Ally, a VLE add-on for accessible format conversion and accessibility checking.
This ownership model means that I am responsible for:
- Having a deep understanding of each tool and service.
- Staying up to date on new developments, in terms of the technology and the curricular workflow in which technology operates.
- Actively assessing and reflecting on the evolving use of these tools.
- Engaging in outreach to encourage adoption and best-practice use of tools.
- Recommending that tools are continued/discontinued.
To support these points, in 2019 the University of Brighton decided to move towards anonymous marking, motivated by feedback from the Brighton Students Union. Turnitin was the primary marking tool, and I was part of the working group to pilot anonymous marking. I had mixed feelings from a professional standpoint. On the one hand, I fully supported implementing anonymous marking to help counteract unconscious bias. On the other hand, I understood the limitations of Turnitin and its integration with Blackboard which did not match the expectations expressed in the pilot meetings. I felt that misunderstandings about the technology would lead to risks such as, processing issues for students, particularly those with marking accommodations related to learning disabilities, as well as additional workload for administrators. One of the schools I support had used anonymous marking for several years. I was therefore a resident expert and based on that experience I knew that technology alone could not be the solution; workflows needed significant revision. I raised these issues with the working group1 and created guidance for staff, administrators and students with colleague, Craig Wakefield to help mitigate the risks2. I also used R/RStudio to create a corpus of the reasons for deanonymisation submitted over a 10-year period and visualised this data for the working group leads3. This helped me to illustrate ‘misunderstandings’ so they could be addressed in policy. This experience taught me that it is hard to be a voice of caution against a prevailing tide. Using data to support understanding was a helpful approach.
I have developed successful e-portfolios with academic staff in Health Sciences and Social Work4. In Social Work I planned, developed, and managed a joint e-portfolio system, based on Mahara for students at University of Brighton, University of Sussex, and regional student placement providers. I developed the multi-institution Mahara instance in response to feedback from a student placement provider (East Sussex County Council ESCC) who pushed for digitised processes. The e-portfolio system was underpinned by close collaboration with staff and e-learning counterparts at University of Sussex to standardise social work practice documents and e-portfolio workflow. I assessed the usability of the e-portfolio system using questionnaires and iteratively improved it based on feedback (students, staff, and externals staff). The e-portfolio system was set up during 2017/18 and successfully ran for three years. However, changes to funding led to its discontinuation in September 2020. Due to the joint nature of the project and data protection requirements, I anticipated the need for a data migration plan and built it into the platform setup. When it came to discontinue Mahara the data migration process was streamlined for the two institutions, and I transitioned Brighton’s Social Work programme onto Blackboard Assignment Tool. This experience taught me that the presence of a process to discontinue use and migrate data, needs to be a selection criterion when considering which technologies to adopt.
Evidence: ‘Anonymity in Assessment’ Working Group - Meeting 4 redacted minutes (2019) - Word document | PDF quick view. Indicative of the type of input that I had accross the anonymous marking implementation project. ↩︎
Evidence: Supporting document examples. Staff guide-Setting up Anonymous Submission points in Turnitin, this document was created to help mitigate issues with setup and gaps in understanding. Staff resource for students - Submitting Using Turnitin - PowerPoint | PDF quick view. This resource was for staff to use during lecture sessions with students when introducing a new anonymous assessment. Both of these documents represent my own work. The other documents for the project were produced collaboratively with my colleague Craig Wakefield (who has provided his permission to be named in this portfolio). ↩︎
Evidence: Link to my Github tutorial based on the process I developed for the Turnitin corpus analysis. Due to the sensitivity of the data in the Turnitin Corpus it is not possible to share it. I did however want to share my practice with other learning technologists in case they wanted to complete their own similar analysis of this data (data available to any Turnitin administrator). Please also refer to Core Area 1(b) evidence 3. ↩︎
Evidence: Reference from Sarah Wilkins, Senior Lecturer, BSc Social Work Course Leader, School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Brighton - Word document | PDF quick view. Originally produced for my FHEA D2 and re-used with permission. ↩︎