Mobile in Education: Assessing with Tablets

by Dr Elvira Bolat & Dr Milena Bobeva

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Mobile Technology as Assessment Tool, photographer/camera man: Shaun Osborne, model: Elvira Bolat

Technology is confirmed to be an effective tool for assessment and feedback, in particular for computer-assisted assessment (Irons, 2008; Challis, 2005), producing feedback (Heinrich et al., 2009) and publishing feedback (Bloxham and Boyd, 2007; Denton, 2003; Denton et al., 2008). The arrival of affordable mobile devices has introduced a new means for enhancing the above practices (Fabian and MacLean, 2014; Plimmer and Mason, 2006; Salem, 2013). Student preferences to smart phones and tablet devices steer the technological innovation towards ubiquitous mobile connectivity. Inspired by the benefits of such life and study style, educators have started exploring the use of these technologies. Tablet computers prove to become their preferred choice as they resolve some of the limitations associated with the design, readability and comprehensiveness of the feedback for mobile devices with smaller screens (Strain-Seymour, 2013, Rootman-le Grange and Lutz, 2013). This paper reports how tablets and the Form Connext mobile app have been used for engaging a sample of 300 Business Studies students in in-class online assessment and designing and providing timely comprehensive feedback. The study has followed an action research strategy that is grounded on a continuous and dynamic process of reflection (Carr and Kemmis, 2003) on the effectiveness of assessment of student projects documented electronically through wikis and electronic portfolios. It refines the use of tablets for summative and formative assessment of the project-based learning tasks through three review cycles, each of which incorporated a Reflection and Improvements stage. The experience resulted in enhancement of assessment strategies and contribution to the development of contemporary models of learning through effective assessment and feedback (Carr and Kemmis, 2003). The results of the work confirm that tablet computers are an effective tool in assessing e-materials in larger classes for two primary reasons. Firstly, design of e-forms facilitates rigorous process of reflection and understanding assessment criteria that in turn benefit students when preparing for the assessment. Hence, legible and detailed feedback is produced anytime anywhere with synchronous updates within the marking team. Secondly, students benefit from immediate comprehensive feedback allowing them to reflect on and improve their understanding of subject matters, as well as to engage in discussing specific details of the work that are captured through the form. An unexpected outcome was the enhanced reputation and respect to the tutors amongst students, the triggering of student curiosity and enthusiasm in applying similar approach to their own work. The diffusion for the practice amongst other units and identifying other purposes for which the mobile app could be used are also seen as achievements exceeding the expectations of the project team.

Access full text, Bolat, E., 2014. Using tablets for e-assessment of project-based learning. In: 13th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL-2014, 30–31 October 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark, below:

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