Digital technologies are driving change in the global economy and we need to ensure our students are suitably prepared because citizens need good digital competences across all occupations (European Commission, 2016). Many current initiatives in higher education seek to address this. Some focus on digital competence development for academic staff so that they can utilise digital technologies effectively with their students. One initiative is the Irish Universities Association (IUA) Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning (EDTL) project, which aims to “mainstream digital technologies in teaching and learning across the seven Irish universities by addressing the professional development of all who teach” (IUA, 2020).
How do we ensure our students develop digital competences during their studies when our curricula are already full with learning content and activities? Technology-enhanced assessment may be the key. We know that students see assessment as the most important part of their programme and strategically decide to focus their energies on that (Gibbs, 2010). By incorporating technology into assessment, and more specifically, continuous assessment, there is a greater chance students will develop digital competences than through other activities. We also know students prefer continuous assessment over terminal examinations, as they perceive it to be more fair, valid and worthwhile as well as providing them with opportunities to perform better (Knivteon, 1996; Miller & Parlett, 1974).
As part of the EDTL project, Dublin City University (DCU) has launched a professional learning programme for academics to help them develop capacity in designing and delivering technology-enhanced assessments. Since autumn 2019, discipline groups of DCU academics have been participating in this “structured, non-accredited” programme (National Forum, 2016). The programme is tailored to their specific needs and comprises workshops, consultancies and other supports. It draws on the European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators to guide the development of academics’ digital competences in specific areas.
The programme has enabled academics to explore a range of pedagogic, administrative and digital elements to assessment. Academics have responded well, noting its tailored and scaffolded approach as being particularly useful to helping them develop capacity. They have commenced planning to deliver technology-enhanced assessments in the current semester and beyond. Students’ experiences of assessment and its link to digital skills have been explored in focus groups in spring 2020. This presentation at ALT-C will share the background to this programme, academics’ experiences and opinions of it thus far as well the findings from the student focus groups.
European Union, European Commission. (2016). New Skills Agenda for Europe (COM(2016) 381 final). Retrieved from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52016DC0381.
Gibbs, Graham. (2010). Using assessment to support student learning. Leeds Metropolitan University.
Irish Universities Association. (2020). Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from: https://www.iua.ie/ourwork/learning-teaching/digital-learning/.
Kniveton, B. H. (1996). Student perceptions of assessment methods. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 21(3), 229.
Miller & Parlett. (1974). Up to the mark: a study of the examination game. Society for Research into Higher Education.
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. (2016). National Professional Development Framework for all Staff Who Teach in Higher Education. Retrieved from: https://www.teachingandlearning.ie/publication/national-professional-development-framework-for-all-staff-who-teach-in-higher-education/.