VR Assessment Project #2

Thanks to everyone who attended our first project demonstration meeting. We had a good turn out with a few cancellations – it was a wet Monday Morning in Glasgow after all! We gave a short overview to the project and the approach that the College is taking – a kind of action research mini project. You can find out more in this short slide deck. The demo was quite impressive for an early doors peek at what eCom Scotland are developing. We will keep people updated via a mailing list as we go forwards and update the VR project blog. We shall also be joining the ALT VR/AR SIG and contribute to their discussions. We will try and arrange another demo in the new year.

There were a number of questions and observations that popped up in a lively discussion here is a brief listing:

  • Move away from turnkey systems is good
  • Ability to edit output at code level without authoring tool good
  • Ability to use own content – v good
  • Content needs to be used at standard workstations – headsets and full immersion are probably edge cases (?) in mainstream HE/FE
  • Cost is critical – to be determined
  • XAPI (Tin Can) and Learning Record Store not being used much and probably not that useful – VLE gradebook will do for most users
  • Ability for users to capture images / content in the environment and export to create reports would be good
  • having instructions read out to users (text to speech) would be a good option
  • Using speech recognition for users to select and enter answers would be great
  • Using for assessment – will need user management procedures
  • Health and safety issues
  • Implication for IT infrastructure
  • Accessibility and alternative arrangements need to be looked at – if the authoring system could output assessments in different format would be ideal (e.g. VR and print)
  • The College is looking for suitable SQA units to test the toolkit with
  • Assessments need to be cleared with the SQA (EV) – a systems thing

XR / VR Assessment Project #1

New! CIT-eA Reloaded. Some of the work if CIT-eA project has fed into a new VR for Assessment project. XR now seems to to be the preferred term in the corporate world and is an umbrella term for VR / AR / MR. To quote wikipedia “XR is a superset which includes the entire spectrum from “the complete real” to “the complete virtual” in the concept of reality–virtuality continuum introduced by Paul Milgram.”

The original CIT-eA project was a little unusual in EdTech terms in that it placed a great deal of emphasis on understanding the systemic factors affecting the uptake of EdTech. This has since paid dividends in many ways and this project has led to the current approach to VR for assessment and a recent blockchain project called My Skills that investigated the used of blockchain technology to provide digital certificates of learning

We are going to be working with a Scottish Company called eCom Scotland on a project that is developing a VR assessment toolkit. The project is called ‘Assessing Reality’ and it is funded by the Ufi Charitable Trust. It looks really interesting – the idea is to produce a tool that enables non-techy users to easily create their own VR assessments. Its a tall order so it will be interesting to see how things pans out.

The toolkit is unusual in that it seeks to allow users to import their own 360 degree image panoramas and videos and then create assessments using them. It also allows users to create templates from their assessments to share with other users so that they can get a flying start on creating their own assessments. This is a big move, as currently vendors tend to to try and provide a ‘turnkey service’ when it comes to VR – i.e. do everything including creating the VR environments. With the increasing ease of creating 360 panoramas and videos by users it makes sense for them to be able to import their own content. This is good for avoiding being locked in to a commercial provider and is to be welcomed. Ecom are also suggesting that the content their toolkit turns out will be editable by people with coding skills – so no proprietary format lock-in either – which is also good news. The content should be able to run in any regular VLE / LMS like Moodle or Canvas that is set up for XAPI.

The toolkit is based on an existing Ecom e-learning content authoring toolkit called eNetAuthor that is cloud cased and can turn out Scorm learning objects and the more recent content in the form of the Experience API (Tin Can API), also know as XAPI. The VR toolkit is using XAPI to link the VR environments to assessments and then store the learners activity and results in a Learning Record Store in an LMS / VLE. This approach is very different to traditional LMS set ups in FE/HE where the user data and assessment results are kept in the system. In the XAPI approach the data is designed to be shared. This has many implications, especially for the hot topic of Educational Analytics.

The CIT-eA Project: Reloaded

It is now December 2015 and the CIT-eA project officially ended in July 2015. As the title of this post implies I am back to do some more work on the project after some unexpected detours!  (partly due to the success of our Clipper video project and the usual things life throws at us). So, finishing off some work on the case studies that need to be completed and put on line and a general tidy up and review. It’s a good time to return to the topic of e-assessment in education as our home institution – The City of Glasgow College – is going through some far reaching changes with the opening of new modern campuses and high expectations for the use of technology to support learning, with e-assessment being high on the agenda.

One of the themes of the original project was the need to adopt a systematic approach to implementing e-assessment and that will become clear as I write up the case studies – where small factors seem to have big effects on the outcomes. Another recent development has been our encounter with an Open University project in Scoltand called Opening Educational Practices Scotland (OEPS for short). The open education agenda might, at first, seem a bit distant from e-assessment but I think it brings some very useful tools and approaches to the established education systems – not least the ability to look at things differently. This is what is needed, as our established educational practices and institutions make the transition from paper-based assessment to digital technology.

The open agenda encourages us to look beyond merely repeating existing practice digitally (a common occurrence with new technology) to think of new ways to use the technology and solve long-standing problems. As part of the OEPS work the OU is making available a revamped version of their OpenLearn Works. I am hoping to convert some of the CIT-eA project outputs into an online course on that website. As part of that process I would like to incorporate some of the content produced at Heart of Worcester college in their WORDLE project (there is a useful case study here). The Worcester approach seems to embody the systematic approach that is needed and has certainly resulted in success and awards. I will return to this in another blog post as work progresses.