Students Staff
University of Essex

July 9, 2013

Making Electronic Feedback Effective – 10 things that will be changing in OCS

Filed under: Project Report — admin @ 1:07 pm

A new project, called Making Electronic Feedback Effective, is underway to improve the OCS. In order to keep you informed and to make the project as transparent as possible, we thought it would be useful to list some of the initial things that will be changing in OCS. Some of these things actually involve many smaller changes and actions, but here is a starter for 10:

1. The name

We are changing the name because Online Coursework Submission doesn’t really encompass all the activities that the new system will be handling; such as online marking and feedback. The name change will take place over summer 2013, so watch this space for the unveil.

2. The look

Some changes will be made to the appearance of the system when you login, mainly the addition of a navigation bar on the left-hand side, to allow better access to new areas of the system. The screen will also be widened to optimise the view on mobile devices – something we think will be really important for online marking over the coming year. Also, when new buttons are released to the system, they will appear highlighted until you click on them, this way you can learn about new features as you use the system.

3. One assignment, one entry

We are working to achieve “one assignment, one entry” – eliminating the duplication of creating assignments in both MIS and OCS. Ideally, assignments will be entered into OCS and then automatically displayed in MIS. However, there will be an option to enter assignments into MIS that do not require electronic submission.

4. Personalised staff roles

The system will now understand better the differences between administrative and academic staff as opposed to just “staff”- this will allow us greater flexibility in determining the roles that different users play within departments and in personalising their features and alerts.

5. myAlerts activity feed

The activity feed will become a personalised feature that appears for all users when they log in and will show them relevant items such as: upcoming deadlines; whether they have received feedback; if they are due to complete marking on a piece of work soon; or if a student has requested some further communication with their lecturer etc. Some of the items will be purely informational and some of them will be items that you can check off.

6. Mark online – using Turnitin GradeMark

Turnitin GradeMark will start to be used as a merged feature in our new system providing a seamless facility. There are lots of features here to be discussed with academics and staff and we will be able to communicate the configurable options shortly.

7. Plagarism detection – using Turnitin Originality Check

You will be able to start using Turnitin OC but we hope to make the process simpler; by being able to set-up at the assignment level, a mechanism to automatically send documents to Turnitin OC once submissions have closed. We also hope you will be able to interface with Turnitin OC through the system without having to go to an additional web browser.

8. Giving feedback

There will be a new facility for students and staff that allows for two way feedback and communication; such as academics being able to give assessment feedback and personal development feedback; and students being able to use call-to-action features to discuss your feedback with the marker, for example. Academics will have the ability to give overall feedback to groups that they define; or by classes or cohorts that are already defined in other timetabling systems.

9. Audio feedback

We will be including the option to upload audio feedback for students.

10. Improved reminders

Better communication for all staff and students about their deadlines for/notifications of submissions, marking and administrative tasks; in the form of an activity feed and e-mail alerts. Items will show up in the myAlerts feed and more notifications will also be sent through e-mail.

There will be many more additional features that will be implemented over the coming year. We will release a news item later in the summer with more of the great benefits we hope to build into the system. The questions on many of your lips may now be “When will all this be happening?” and “Will this effect very busy or crucial times of the year?”. The answer is that we will do our very best to be as least disruptive as possible. We have a very thorough testing process for this system and also all features will be tested by a single department before being rolled out to all other departments.

We won’t be releasing huge changes in one go but will release smaller packages of changes at a time, such as a two new buttons or features. We also will be consulting departments what they want as their “default settings” there are many configurable settings in the system such as “Is marking anonymous?”, “Do second markers get to choose a sample of work to mark or is it random?”, “Does the releasing of marks need to go through a hierarchy of approvals before being released?” All these settings and more will be able to be configured per assignment but each department will have the option of setting a default set of attributes for their assignments.

The next blog posts to come out will cover:

  • How to get in contact/how we will communicate with all users.
  • Our testing and implementation methodology and who is involved.
  • Who the beta department is and what is required of them.
  • Posts to say when a new feature has been developed and when it is expected o be released.

You can enrol yourself on the Moodle course to be made aware of development news and to be involved in user testing.


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