Assessment and Credit in Online Open Qualifications
Assessment and Credit in
Online Open Vocational
digital by default, digital by design
30th January 2014
Opus Learning Ltd, Edinburgh
• We develop online open courses to SQA HND
– A white label service for students enrolled with
– Direct to students who are enrolled with Opus
• We provide the learning environment, and
deliver the learning content and assessments.
In this morning’s talk, I hope to indicate
how we have:
– Benefited by using technology to support and
manage vocational learning;
– Considered how to de-couple learning and
– Managed downwards the risks and costs of using
Origin of Opus
A spinout from CAPDM.com
Developing and delivering Masters
programmes for over 17 years
We deliver highly interactive courses,
delivered via an online platform such as
With tools to manage and monitor learning
with or without tutor support.
Structure of our programmes
• We build:
– integrated frameworks of Units for SQA HNDs and
University undergrad programmes
– within a framework of commercial discipline.
• Which are outward facing and globally
The Main Issues of 2014
Learning and Assessment
MOOCs and SPOCs
Financing and selling
Badges and Certificates
Initial training and Life Long Learning
RPL and de-coupled accredited assessment
The problems in
an online context
Online Learning does not change the problems of assessing
Identifying problems in learning
Recognising need for intervention
MOOCs introduce new aspects
Learn without credit
Gain credit after learning
Building badges into credits
Based on diagram in
Where do the major costs lie?
Support and Assessment
Review and Improvement
Student and Institution
Based on diagram in
Interactions and Monitoring
Type of Interaction
Human to human
Student to Learning Platform
Student to content
Student and formative
Students and personal
Via a ticket system for formal
student to tutor interactions
Via built in tracking tools on
Our in-built tracking and
Interacting with Content Objects
Student interacts with content
Makes notes, responds to
quiz, send messages, etc
Store in MLE
The Digital Workbook
The Digital Workbook is
• A portfolio embedded in
• A dashboard for learning
• Rich seam of data and
behaviours for mining
• Ongoing formative
assessment, and potential
• A pdf for the student
MOOC Value Proposition
• Education Access
– On a massive, international scale. Currently, most students who are not
enrolled college students.
– May change as colleges integrate MOOC content to traditional teaching
– New business model
– New resources for learners
– New learning technologies based on mining
• Brand Extension
– MOOCs can extend the institution’s reach and reputation internationally.
– Particularly among elite research institutions, MOOCs have become a way of
enhancing the institution’s brand and signalling innovation.
– Successful professors can gain a global following, building their own
Assessment In the
All units are stand alone, they can be delivered
in a very flexible manner, but there are very
clear pointers to how assessment should be
It is no longer appropriate to base the
assessment of competence on a final 3 hour
Assessment and Verification
The Tensions in Technology Based
Open and Distance Learning
• Who is actually at the end of the screen?
• What is the level of Granularity for assessment?
– We want freedom for student to learn what they
want when they want
– We want to integrate assessment across a group
• What is the cohort size?
– We want individualised learning
– We want efficiency in the use of tutor support
Who is at the end of the screen?
Opus Policy is:
• At Opus we track student behaviour.
• We use 2 levels of tracking
– Moodle Based (the VLE) and
– Content Based.
Tracking through the
• Opus content is massively connected to the
• Every reflection, exercise, quiz, short response
and so on are logged within the learning
content and in the workbook
• The tutor can view, track and compare
• Tracking appears to:
– Provide the potential of personalised learning
within mechanical presentation of study
– Assist formative assessment in the content driving
tracking and the experience of learning progress
– Provide feedback on Tutor effectiveness and the
effectiveness of the pedagogy underpinning the
The Commercial Imperative
We wish to
– drive down cost of assessment
– Drive up the quality and efficiency of assessment
within the context of a well resourced learner.
We have to manage costs, and the use of human
Assessor/Tutor Activity Model
in Distance Learning
1. Monitor VLE activity, identify any candidate with lack of
progress and contact course leader for action.
2. Monitor Digital Workbook (if used) and identify any
outliers in progress, contact course leader with details.
3. Respond to direct tickets from candidate, making use of
FAQs for responses, if new response is required, copy
response to course leader.
4. Responding to assessments; remediation advice
Assessor/Tutor Activity Model
1. Monitor VLE activity automatically.
2. Monitor Digital Workbook but ignore any outliers in
progress, contact course leader with details.
3. Send any queries to student peer group for support
4. Responding to machine assessed assessments; only
automatic remediation advice
Take out the tutor!
• We can time and cost elements in traditional online courses
• Times and costs vary with cohort size in traditional courses
• For the MOOC approach, times and costs must be
independent of cohort size.
Timing Model vs Cohort size
HND Business Timings
Average timing per
unit for HND
Business - minutes
Learning Centre Cost Model
• Based on the previous models
– Time per tutor/unit/student can be estimated
– Payment to Tutor/assessor is known
– Viability of the Distance Course can be calculated.
• We need to know these numbers and to
Potential Cost Model
Possible costs/charges per student
awarding body charges = £250;
tutoring = £1000;
tech + online content licence = £300;
agent fees = £250
Centre overheads per student = £500
Total cost per student = £2300
Potential Centre Surplus
• In UK Charge to student £3500-£4500
• In India Charge to student £1500-£2500
We cannot serve one of largest markets in the
world, with this model.
We have to be able to manage costs.
MOOC Costs models
• Charge to student – Zero
• Cost for development of module not well
– EdX charge $250k to produce a MOOC**
– University of North Carolina quoted $150k for inhouse production*
• Revenue shares between platform provider
Learning from MOOCS
Massive size of cohort
Highly programmed week by week
Clearly signposted weekly targets
Using the student body as the main tutor
• Building a community of activists and lurkers
• Managing and controlling costs
• Generate revenue by conversions?
Learning from MOOCS
• Do not do assessments
– Until students join full programme
• Keep the granularity of the course fairly small
– not full degrees
• Set up an honour system – make the students
police themselves and even support each
Applying all these lessons
• Manage the cohort size
• Make sure investment reflects assessment and
tutor support provided – the added value of a
• Make assessments social, encourage group
help. Track this activity!
Small Private Open Courses
• Organise cohorts in groups of 10s, not groups of
10k’s or 100k’s
• Localise tutors and assessors
• Build communities including assessors
• Track activity and behaviour at keyboard level and at
• Record activity – perhaps award a badge for partially
• Guide the learners towards completion, intervene as
Opus MOOC Experiment
• From the 1st April 2014, there will at least 2 Opus
Units following SQA curriculum
With no registration at SQA
No access to Assessment Support Pack items
With formative assessment – peer assessed
With summative assessment with peer commenting
Open badges for course completion/attainment
• With the potential to register post mooc, and fast
track to assessment.
The Opus Open Courses
• Management: Developing Self Management
Skills based on course H1F1 34
• Project Management: An Introduction based
on course F1NH 34
Developing Self Management Skills
• Students are encouraged to provide evidence
in a format which suits their particular
• It is particularly suited to an electronic
portfolio method of assessment.
• Outcomes can be assessed by the
development of project management
documentation, for a workplace project for
which the candidate has responsibility
Our to do list
• Design the courses
• Design the peer assessment elements
• Design the learning pathway (based on
current open online pedagogy)
• Design the Badge structure
• Work with SQA to provide pathway to
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