Analysis of Blended and Online Institutions using a Trustworthy System

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A Case Study from the H2020 project TeSLA

The 2017 International Technology Enhanced Assessment Conference (TEA), organized by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) took place in Barcelona on 5 and 6 October. This two-day research-led conference focused on research and practice in e-assessment.

The TeSLA project

One of the contributions discussed preliminary results from the TeSLA project, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 ICT program. The project´s objective is to develop an e-assessment system to:

●      provide educational institutions with unambiguous proof of students’ academic progression throughout the whole learning process;

●      provide agencies and society with unambiguous proof of academic progression, while overcoming the limitations in time and physical space imposed by face-to-face examinations;

●      cover the teaching-learning process as well as ethical, legal and technological aspects;

●      provide access to multiple instruments and pedagogical resources to use in assessment activities to capture data for student authentication and authorship.

Analysis of the TeSLA e-assessment system

To test the e-assessment system, the project planned to conduct three pilot tests, starting with 500 students in the first test and going up to 20,000 in the third. They are to be uniformly distributed between the 7 universities participating in the project. Specifically, the contribution provided an analysis and comparison of the challenges and findings in the preparation, execution and evaluation of the first pilot test, which was carried out in a blended institution (the Technical University of Sofia, TUS) and in a fully online institution (the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, UOC). As a result, strengths and weaknesses that can help ensure a better design of the upcoming pilot tests were identified.

The objectives of the first pilot were:

●      to identify of the key phases and tasks;

●      to gain experience using the authentication and authorship instruments for student assessment;

●      to identify legal and/or ethical issues and critical risks at an institutional level;

●      to study the opinions and attitudes of the participants (mainly students and teachers) towards the use of authentication and authorship instruments in assessment.

The first TeSLA pilot test case study

Both the TUS (126 students) and the UOC (154 students) achieved their student participation targets for the first pilot test, which was set at 75 students per institution. Both institutions used face recognition, keystroke dynamics and forensic analysis in their continuous assessment activities. In the case of the UOC, voice recognition and plagiarism instruments were also tested. Although there were differences in the student profile, both institutions agreed that student motivation was a crucial aspect. A shared good practice was to guarantee that the assessment activities using TeSLA instruments had a small impact on the students’ final marks. It is noteworthy that all the students involved in the pilot test carried out their assessment processes without any negative impact on their academic success. However, they did experience a certain increase in their workload. From the teacher perspective, both institutions agreed that TeSLA allows the development of innovative assessment activities, although further effort is needed in the upcoming pilot tests to integrate the instruments into the assessment process transparently.