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Marking centrally managed exams in 2021

Steve Rowett22 March 2021

On this page:

Please note that this page will be updated regularly.


Background

As part of UCL’s continued COVID-19 response, centrally managed examinations for 2021 will be held online. Approximately 19,000 students will undertake over 1,000 exam papers resulting in about 48,000 submitted pieces of work. These exams are timetabled, and (for the very most part) students will submit a PDF document as their response. Students have been provided with their exam timetable and guidance on creating and submitting their documents. The exception to this is some ‘pilot’ examinations that are taking place using other methods on the AssessmentUCL platform, but unless you are within that pilot group, the methods described here will apply.

The move to online 24 hour assessments that replace traditional exams leads to a challenge for those that have to grade and mark the work. This blog post updates a similar post from last year with updated guidance, although the process is broadly the same.

Physical exams are being replaced with 24 hour online papers, scheduled through the exam timetabling system. Some papers will be available for students to complete for the full 24 hours, in other cases students ‘start the clock’ themselves to take a shorter timed exam within that 24 hour window.

We start from a place of two knowns:

  • Students are submitting work as a PDF document to the AssessmentUCL platform during the 24 hour window; and
  • Final grades need to be stored in Portico, our student records system.

But in between those two endpoints, there are many different workflows by which marking can take place. These are set out by the UCL’s Academic Manual but encompass a range of choices, particularly in how second marking is completed. One key difference between regular courseworks is that this is not about providing feedback to students, but instead about supporting the marking process, the communication between markers and the required record of the marking process. At the end of the marking process departments will need to ensure that scripts are stored securely but can be accessed by relevant staff as required, much in line with requirements for paper versions over previous years.

There is no requirement to use a particular platform or method for marking, so there is considerable flexibility for departments to use processes that work best for them. We are suggesting a menu of options which provide a basis for departments to build on if they so choose. We are also running regular training sessions which as listed at the foot of this document.

The menu options are:

  • Markers review the scripts and mark or annotate them using AssessmentUCL’s annotation and markup tools;
  • Departments can download PDF copies of scripts which can be annotated using PDF annotation software on a computer or tablet device;
  • Markers review the scripts on-screen using AssessmentUCL, but keep a ‘marker file’ or notes and comments on the marking process;
  • Markers print the scripts and mark them, then scan them for storage or keep them for return to the department on paper.

The rest of this post goes into these options in more detail. There is also a growing AssessmentUCL resource centre with detailed guidance on exams, which will be launched shortly and this will evolve as the AssessmentUCL platform becomes more widely used across UCL.


Overview of central exam marking

This video provides a short (4 minute) introduction to the methods of marking exam papers in 2021. This video has captions available.


Marking online using AssessmentUCL’s annotation tools

AssessmentUCL provides a web-based interface where comments can be overlaid on a student’s work. A range of second marking options are available to allow comments to be shared with other markers or kept hidden from them. The central examinations team will set up all centrally managed exams based on the papers and information submitted by departments.

The video (24 minutes) below provides a walkthrough of the marking process using the annotation and grading tools in AssessmentUCL. It also shows how module leaders can download PDFs of student papers if they wish to mark using other methods or download marks if they are using AssessmentUCL. This video has captions available.

This video (7 minutes) gives more detailed guidance on ‘section-based marking’ where different markers are marking different questions across the submitted papers. This video has captions available.

Annotation using PDF documents

Where you annotation needs are more sophisticated, or you want to ‘write’ on the paper using a graphics tablet or a tablet and pencil/stylus, then this option may suit you better.

Module leads and exams liaison officers can download a ZIP file containing all the submitted work for a given exam. Unlike last year, a student’s candidate number is prefixed onto the filename, and can be included within the document itself, to make identifying the correct student much easier.

You can then use tools you already have or prefer to use to do your marking. There is more flexibility here, and we will not be able to advise and support every PDF tool available or give precise instructions for every workflow used by departments, but we give some examples here.

Marking on an iPad using OneDrive

Many staff have reported using an iPad with Apple Pencil or an Android tablet with a stylus to be a very effective marking tool. You can use the free Microsoft OneDrive app, or Apple’s built in Files app if you are using an iPad. Both can connect to your OneDrive account which could be a very useful way to store your files. An example of this using OneDrive is shown below, the Apple Files version is very similar.

There’s further guidance from Microsoft on each individual annotation tool.

Marking on a PC or Surface Pro using Microsoft Drawboard PDF

Microsoft Drawboard PDF is a very comprehensive annotation tool, but is only available for Windows 10 and is really designed to be used with a Surface Pro or a desktop with a graphics tablet. Dewi Lewis from UCL Chemistry has produced a video illustrating the annotation tools available and how to mark a set of files easily. Drawboard PDF is available free of charge from Microsoft.

Marking on a PC, Mac or Linux machine using a PDF annotation program.

Of course there are plenty of third party tools that support annotating PDF documents. Some requirement payment to access the annotation facilities (or to save files that have been annotated) but two that do not are Xodo and Foxit PDF.

Things to think about with this approach:

  • Your marking process: if you use double blind marking you might need to make two copies of the files, one for each marker. If you use check marking then a single copy will suffice.
  • You will need to ensure the files are stored securely and can be accessed by the relevant departmental staff in case of any query. You might share the exam submission files with key contacts such as teaching administrators or directors of teaching.
  • Some of the products listed above have a small charge, as would any stylus or pencil that staff would need. These cannot be supplied centrally, so you may need a process for staff claiming back the costs from departments.

Using a ‘marker file’

Accessing the students’ scripts is done using AssessmentUCL, which allows all the papers to be viewed online individually or downloaded in one go. Then a separate document is kept (either one per script, or one overall) containing the marks and marker feedback for each comment. If double-blind marking is being used, then it is easy to see that two such documents or sets of documents could be kept in this way.


Printing scripts and marking on paper

Although we have moved to online submission this year, colleagues are still welcome to print documents and mark on paper. However there is no central printing service available for completed scripts to be printed, and this would have to be managed individually or locally by departments.


The evidence about marking online

In this video Dr Mary Richardson, Associate Professor in Educational Assessment at the IOE, gives a guide to how online marking can differ from paper-based marking and offers some tips for those new to online marking. The video has captions.


Training sessions and support

Digital Education will be running regular training sessions for markers running from week commencing 12 April 2021. These sessions will cover marking using the AssessmentUCL platform and alternative marking methods including using PDF documents. This session will run multiple times at the following dates and times:

2pm-3pm Monday 12 April (this session will be captioned)
2pm-3pm Tuesday 13 April
11am-12pm Thursday 15 April
2pm-3pm Monday 19 April
2pm-3pm Wednesday 21 April (this session will be captioned)
11am-12pm Friday 23 April
2pm-3pm Monday 26 April
2pm-3pm Tuesday 27 April (this session will be captioned)
11am-12pm Thursday 29 April
11am-12pm Tuesday 4 May
3pm-4pm Wednesday 5 May
11am-12pm Friday 7 May (this session will be captioned)
2pm-3pm Monday 10 May
11am-12pm Wednesday 12 May
2pm-3pm Monday 17 May
2pm-3pm Thursday 20 May
2pm-3pm Tuesday 26 May
2pm-3pm Thursday 3 June

There is no need to book for these sessions, you can just join on the day (UCL Login required).

At least one session will also be recorded and made available for replay with the link provided here in due course.

You can of course contact UCL Digital Education for further help and support.

Workshop series: designing and managing online learning- synchronously and asynchronously

Alexandra Mihai2 November 2020

To support faculty in designing and teaching their online courses in the next terms, learning designers Alexandra Mihai and Heather Serdar from the Online Education team are offering in the next months a series of four new workshops aimed at providing practical guidance for designing and managing learning activities using both synchronous and asynchronous modalities.

The workshops have been designed as stand-alone 90-minute sessions but attending all four of them provides a 360 degrees perspective on the online teaching experience- from design to delivery, including a curated selection of resources and customisable templates.

Synchronous online teaching

Orchestrating synchronous interactions in the virtual classroom needs to be more intentionally planned than in a face-to-face environment. Setting clear goals and understanding where live sessions can bring the most added value to the learning experience is an important starting point. A well-managed live online teaching session can create opportunities for engagement and conversation.

The session on Designing synchronous learning activities provides practical guidance on how to design synchronous online learning sessions, including creating a variety of learning activities to engage students throughout the session, deciding what interaction channels to use and setting up effective mechanism for moderation and time management.

To complement it, the session on Teaching synchronous classes focuses on creating a community of practice, setting learner expectations of synchronous learning and teaching and managing groups in synchronous sessions.

Asynchronous online teaching

The online space can provide a flexible learning environment, without space and time constraints. Learning takes place also beyond the virtual classroom. In order to make sure students are motivated and engaged, asynchronous learning activities have to be carefully designed and managed.

The session on Designing asynchronous learning activities offers practical guidance on designing and sequencing asynchronous learning activities. Participants will have the opportunity to zoom into the actual activity design process and discuss how to create different individual and group learning activities, how to communicate them clearly to students and how to embed them into the overall course.

Moving on to the more practical aspects, the fourth session of the series, Teaching with asynchronous learning activities provides the opportunity to discuss communities of learning, learn about different activities that are appropriate for various subject areas and identify functions in Moodle that support asynchronous learning.

Here is the schedule of the new workshops. You can register here.

Wednesday, 4 November

Wednesday, 9 December

12:00- 13:30 Designing synchronous learning activities
Tuesday, 10 November 13:00- 14:30 Teaching synchronous classes
Tuesday, 24 November 14:00- 15:30 Designing asynchronous learning activities
Wednesday, 2 December 12:00- 13:30 Teaching with asynchronous learning activities

In addition to the new workshops, Heather and Alexandra will still run two 60-minutes sessions of the Designing Connected Learning Lectures this year, on Wednesday, 18 November, 12:00 and Wednesday, 16 December, 12:00.

We look forward to welcoming you to the workshops and supporting you in designing and teaching your courses.

Connected Learning Essentials – now open to teaching staff outside of UCL

Jo Stroud7 October 2020

In Term 1 of 2020/21, UCL’s core teaching is taking place online. There has been significant planning and an extensive amount of work from across the institution to support this transition, including a range of centrally-organised opportunities for staff to learn more about online teaching and learning.

The Connected Learning Essentials programme

One such opportunity is Connected Learning Essentials, an online course that was swiftly developed by Digital Education, the Arena Centre for Research-Based Education, Library, and colleagues based in academic departments, and run in multiple two-week-long cohorts from June to September 2020. The course was developed with recognition of the challenges facing staff and what could be achieved in a short period of time, and introduced some of the most urgent and important aspects of positive and active online teaching. Programme sections include:

  • Taking a Connected Learning Approach
  • Securing student engagement
  • Ensuring a consistent learning environment for students
  • Assessment
  • Designing for students’ active learning
  • Curating and making resources
  • Knowing students are engaging and learning.

It is important to note that the course only covers the basics, and was supplemented with a range of further opportunities to broaden the scope of course topics, including a series of live sessions and localised support within departments and faculties to support distinct pedagogic approaches.

Enrol on Connected Learning Essentials

The course is now open to anyone who might like to use it, regardless of where you work. You don’t need to progress through everything in order, either. You can dip in-and-out of specific sections depending on what you need or interests you most. If you find you need to move your teaching online very quickly, you might focus on sections 2, 3, and 5, and return to others later. While some UCL-specific content has been removed or genericised for other contexts, there will be occasions upon which guidance refers to UCL policies, practice, or platforms.

To access the course:

  • Navigate to Connected Learning Essentials (open) and click the Login link
  • If you don’t have a UCLeXtend account already, click ‘Create new account’ and complete the sign up process. If you do, sign in and you should be directed to the course
  • In the ‘Self enrol’ field, enter the enrolment key: ‘CLEUCL’.

Reusing material from Connected Learning Essentials

Material and activities from Connected Learning Essentials are available to download in Word format as part of the course and are licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Alternatively, if you work in digital education, educational development, or a similar role at another institution and would like to reuse and adapt the course on your own platform this may be possible via a course export. If you have any questions about this please contact extend@ucl.ac.uk.

Connected Learning – Teaching tools and platforms

Clive Young24 July 2020

Links to the UCL Resource Centres for tools mentioned at the Town Hall today.

Live Teaching

Blackboard Collaborate is UCL’s web conferencing or online classroom platform. It is integrated within Moodle as an activity, providing access to a range of different functions in a live, or synchronous, learning environment. UCL Case StudyUsing Blackboard Collaborate to teach students across the world.

Zoom is coming to UCL and support information will be available then.

Teams, now universally used at UCL for meetings and one-to-one sessions, is not yet recommended for group teaching. There is no Moodle or Portico integration and Digital Education do not have the expertise (yet) support in its use for teaching.​

Virtual Cluster Rooms will provide direct access to cluster room PCs for computer-based classes. They Mirror the physical cluster rooms in virtual groups that will be timetabled in the same way and accessed via UCL Desktop Anywhere. More information and guidance about planning for laboratory and practice-based activities is also being developed.

Live/Asynchonous

Mentimeter (polling) is an online polling, questioning and voting tool that you can use in your classes or presentations, whether they are face-to-face or online, synchronous or asynchronous. UCL has a site-wide licence. UCL Case StudyEngaging students asynchronously with Mentimeter.

Visualisers and graphics tablets can assist online teaching. ISD have a limited stock of visualisers for circulation to lecturers. You can read more about options for writing and showing objectson this digital education blog post.

Asynchronous

Moodle has many tools that can help keep your students engaged and learning in the absence of face-to-face sessions. UCL Case StudyMoodle tools to make your teaching more interactive.

  • Discussion Forums are often considered the mainstay of online learning. Many staff already use the News forum to announce important information. ‘Learning forums’ can be used for asynchronous discussion (i.e. not ‘real time’) and learning activities. They enable both staff and students to post and reply to posts and are usually are set to allow students and staff to choose whether to become or remain subscribed to a forum. We recommend that Q&A forums are set up for students to ask questions about the course work or assessment processes. Make the purpose of every discussion forum clear, including how students are expected to engage with it and how often staff will reply to posts (if at all). If you want to speak to students in ‘real time’, for example for virtual Office Hours, you might want to try Moodle’s instant messaging style tool, Chat.
  • Quiz is the other popular tool for online engagement. A quiz is a useful way to test or evaluate students’ knowledge and to keep them motivated by letting them see areas for improvement. Marking can be automated on some question types (such as multiple choice). Staff can see a detailed breakdown of results, as well as statistics on how easy or discriminating each question is. It can be used for both formative and summative (credit bearing) assessment, such as in class tests or examinations, but the latter is usually done in a ‘live’ classroom, so for online learning summative quizzes are more normal.
  • Hot Question used to create a list of popular questions or topics from a group. Participants may ‘rate’ others’ questions. The more votes, the hotter the question and the higher up the list it will appear.
  • Book displays collections of web pages in a sequential, easy-to-navigate and printable format. They are especially useful when you have a lot of web content but don’t want it to clutter the front page of your course. Pages can contain links, images, embedded YouTube videos, etc and feature a Table of Contents.
  • Lessons can be used to build structured pathways through learning materials and test knowledge as students make progress. Students usually make choices on each page area, sending send them to another specific page in the manner of a decision tree.
  • H5P is a simple-to-use tool now integrated into Moodle to create interactive content such as drag and drop, fill in the blanks, flashcards, image hotspots, slideshows, games and formative quizzes (the results are not stored) directly within Moodle. UCL Case Study: Creating interactive video training guides in Moodle.

Lecturecast Universal Capture Personal (screen recording) is a stand-alone application which can be used to create recordings (captures). Recordings can include slides (or whatever you choose to show on your computer screen), video of the presenter and audio. Recordings can include slides (or whatever you choose to show on your computer screen), video of the presenter and audio. Lecturecast offers more than just video playback, though. With the Lecturecast Engagement tools,  tutors can set up interactive activities, to engage and support students.

ReadingLists@UCL is an online service that gives students easy access to materials on their reading lists, allowing academic staff to create and update their own reading lists.

LinkedIn Learning provides a vast range of video tutorials supporting learning in software, creative and business skills – all free to UCL staff and currently enrolled students.

Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is Learning on Screen’s on demand TV and radio service for education. The academically focused system allows staff and students to record programmes from over 75 free-to-air channels, and search BoB’s extensive archive of over 2.2 million recordings.

Student-led and collaboration

  • Reflect(WordPress blog) is a form of WordPress, the industry-standard blogging and website-building tool. Blogs may be used to help students reflect on their experiences during study, build a portfolio of their work, collaborate on projects and create public-facing materials. UCL Case StudyMedical Science students use UCL Reflect to create scientific blogs for assessment.
  • MyPortfolio is a very flexible tool which can be used as a portfolio, for blogging, CV builder, social networking system, connecting UCL students and staff and creating online communities. MyPortfolio provides you with the tools to set up a personal learning environment and can also be used to support group work.
  • Office365​, is of course ubiquitous at UCL, but the educational possibilities are not always appreciated. LinkedIn Learning includes a useful overview ‘Office 365 for Educators’.

Mentimeter at UCL

Steve Rowett9 July 2020

We’re pleased to announce that we now have a site licence for Mentimeter at UCL, meaning that any teacher or student can use it free of charge. Our Mentimeter Resource Centre provides training and guidance to get you started.

Mentimeter is an online polling, questioning and voting tool that you can use in your teaching, whether it is online or face-to-face, synchronous or asynchronous. Mentimeter offers a wide variety of question types that you can use with your students to promote active learning:

Icons for different question types in Mentimeter, including multiple choice, free text response, ranking and image-based questions

Icons for different question types in Mentimeter, including multiple choice, free text response, ranking and image-based questions

It will eventually replace the TurningPoint ‘clickers’ that were installed in some lecture theatres and were available to loan. Educationally, the two services are very similar, but Mentimeter can be used anywhere – including for synchronous and asynchronous online teaching – without the need for physical handsets. It also allows more flexible question types such as word cloud and text responses, unlike the more limited TurningPoint numeric keypads. And you can even include LaTeX formatting in your Mentimeter slides.

To sign up for Mentimeter go to https://www.mentimeter.com/join/ucl. You will be redirected to log in using Single Sign On, with your standard UCL username and password. And then you’ll be straight in to Mentimeter and able to start making your first presentation.

If you already have a Mentimeter account (free or paid) using your UCL email address, this should convert to our site licence and you will no longer be charged for it. Any presentations or results that you already have attached to that account will be preserved.

If you have an existing Mentimeter account (free or paid) using a personal non-UCL email address, then you can either just create one with your UCL email address, or we can transfer your old presentations and results over on request.

Mentimeter have some great resources on putting your slides together. It’s all done online with no need for a fiddly PowerPoint toolbar. Instead, you just click the ‘Present’ button in Mentimeter and your questions appear full screen.

If you are teaching a live session online, then you run the presentation at ‘presenter pace’ which is the default method. You can share the window in Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Students can vote or contribute from a web browser on their laptop or phone, and you see the results in real time as your students enter them.

You can also run a presentation in ‘audience pace’ mode where students complete questions at their own pace, and possibly at different times. It’s an effective tool for asynchronous activities, so for example you might ask students to complete an activity at the start of the week and review their contributions at the end of the week. You still get to see their contributions in real time as they are made.

Dr Silvia Colaiacomo from the UCL Arena Centre has written a case study on the use of Mentimeter for student engagement during asynchronous teaching.

To give you some examples of what you can do with Mentimeter, here are some different question types showing how the results are presented after an audience response.


A graph showing the results of a multiple choice question and the correct answer in Mentimeter

A graph showing the results of a multiple choice question and the correct answer in Mentimeter


Sliders allow participants to show levels of support for various statements in Mentimeter

Sliders allow participants to show levels of support for various statements in Mentimeter


 

Free text responses shown as a word cloud in Mentimeter

Free text responses shown as a word cloud in Mentimeter


 

Marking 24 hour exams

Steve Rowett5 May 2020

This blog post has been re-made for exams in 2021 – visit the Marking centrally managed exams in 2021 blog post.


Please note this post is being regularly updated with additional resources.
+ New on Friday 8 May: Guide to online marking from Mary Richardson
+ New on Friday 8 May: Microsoft Drawboard PDF demo from Dewi Lewis, UCL Chemistry
+ New on Friday 15 May: Updated details on Microsoft Drawboard PDF

The move to online 24 hour assessments that replace traditional exams leads to a challenge for those that have to grade and mark the work.

We start from a place of two knowns:

  • Students are submitting work to Turnitin in Moodle during the 24 hour window; and
  • Final grades need to be stored in Portico, our student records system.

But in between those two endpoints, there are many different workflows by which marking can take place. These are set out by the UCL’s Academic Manual but encompasses a range of choices, particularly in how second marking is completed. One key difference between regular courseworks is that this is not about providing feedback to students, but instead about supporting the marking process, the communication between markers and the required record of the marking process. At the end of the marking process departments will need to ensure that scripts are stored securely but can be accessed by relevant staff as required, much in line with requirements for paper versions over previous years.

Neither SRS nor Digital Education mandate any particular way that marking should take place and there is considerable flexibility for departments to use processes that work best for them. So we are suggesting a menu of options which provide a basis for departments to build on if they so choose. We are also running daily training sessions which as listed at the foot of this document.

The menu options are:

  • Markers review the scripts and mark or annotate them using Turnitin Feedback Studio
  • Digital Education will provide PDF copies of scripts for departments to annotate using PDF annotation software on a computer or tablet device.
  • Markers review the scripts using Turnitin Feedback Studio, but keep a ‘marker file’ or notes and comments on the marking process.
  • Markers print the scripts and mark them, then scan them for storage or keep them for return to the department on paper.

The rest of this post goes into these options in more detail.


Turnitin Feedback Studio

Turnitin Feedback Studio provides a web-based interface where comments can be overlaid on a student’s work. QuickMarks provide a bank of comments that occur regularly that can be just drag and dropped onto the work. In addition, the traditional Turnitin Similarity Report is also available. This method probably works best for text-based documents like essays and reports. Turnitin is integrated into Moodle and set up for you as part of the exam process for students to submit their work, but it’s your choice if you wish to use the marking tools available after the work has been submitted. The Turnitin submission boxes have been set up for you, and we ask that you don’t change the settings or set up any grading templates to mark student work before submission, as this could prevent students from submitting.

You can also allocate marks using grading forms or rubrics.  On the whole we think that these could be a bit of a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ solution for a single paper, but it is an option available to you if you are familiar with them and you have a more granular set marking criteria for each question. We recommend hiding the assignment before adding the grading form or rubric so that students cannot see it.

If you want to know if this method is for you, you can watch a short video demo or  try marking up an example paper provided by Turnitin. A video tailored to UCL’s 24 hour exam process is given below. This video has captions.

Things to think about with this approach:

  • Rubrics and grading forms take a little bit of setting up, and are probably best used where you have previous experience in doing them.
  • In some exams it is common to put a mark (e.g. a tick) on each page to indicate that the page has been read. To replicate this you might define a QuickMark called ‘page read’ and put it on each page, or annotate with the same words
  • The marked paper often becomes a resource to go back to if there are any errors or omissions in the grading process. You might wish to both write the marks on the paper using the annotation tools or in the general feedback area, and also lodge them in a spreadsheet for uploading to Portico.
  • Turnitin does not support double blind marking effectively. It is rarely used for paper-based exams (since the second marker could always see the markings of the first marker on the paper) but if it was needed one marker could mark online and the second could download the papers for offline marking (e.g the ‘marker form’ method below).

You can view additional guidance on using Turnitin Feedback Studio.


Annotation using PDF documents

Where you annotation needs are more sophisticated, or you want to ‘write’ on the paper using a graphics tablet or a tablet and pencil/stylus, then this option may suit you better.

Upon notification (notification form) Digital Education will supply your department with PDF copies of the students’ work, uploaded to a OneDrive account set up by your department.

For this to happen, Exam Liaison Officers / Teaching Administrators will need to set up a OneDrive folder and notify Digital Education that they wish to have PDF copies of the files. We have a video tutorial (with captions) on this process below.

You can then use tools you already have or prefer to use to do your marking. There is more flexibility here, and we will not be able to advise and support every PDF tool available or give precise instructions for every workflow used by departments, but we give some examples here.

Marking on an iPad using OneDrive

Many staff have reported using an iPad with Apple Pencil or an Android tablet with a stylus to be a very effective marking tool. The Microsoft OneDrive app supports both platforms and provides rapid access to scripts and some annotation tools as shown in the video below (which also has captions). The OneDrive app is free, and connects to your UCL OneDrive account via Single Sign On.

There’s further guidance from Microsoft on each individual annotation tool.

The Apple Files app can also connect to OneDrive and has a similar (and perhaps more powerful) annotation tool. Thanks to David Bowler for mentioning this in the first comment on this blog post.

Marking on a Mac using Preview

Preview on a Mac is often taken for granted but is actually quite a sophisticated tool and includes some basic annotation functions. Here is some guidance from Apple on using it.

Marking on a PC or Surface Pro using Microsoft Drawboard PDF

Microsoft Drawboard PDF is a very comprehensive annotation tool, but is only available for Windows 10 and is really designed to be used with a Surface Pro or a desktop with a graphics tablet. Dewi Lewis from UCL Chemistry has produced a video illustrating the annotation tools available and how to mark a set of files easily. UCL does not have a site-wide licence for Drawboard PDF, but it is available at a very modest price if departments choose to buy it.

Marking on a PC, Mac or Linux machine using a PDF annotation program.

Of course there are plenty of third party tools that support annotating PDF documents. Some requirement payment to access the annotation facilities (or to save files that have been annotated) but two that do not are Xodo and Foxit PDF.

Things to think about with this approach:

  • Your marking process: if you use double blind marking you might need to make two copies of the files, one for each marker. If you use check marking then a single copy will suffice.
  • You will need to ensure the files are stored securely and can be accessed by the relevant departmental staff in case of any query. You might share the exam submission files with key contacts such as teaching administrators or directors of teaching.
  • Some of the products listed above have a small charge, as would any stylus or pencil that staff would need. These cannot be supplied centrally, so you may need a process for staff claiming back the costs from departments.

Using a ‘marker file’

Accessing the students’ scripts is done using Turnitin in Moodle, which allows all the papers to be viewed online individually or downloaded in one go. Then a separate document is kept (either one per script, or one overall) containing the marks and marker feedback for each comment. If double-blind marking is being used, then it is easy to see that two such documents or sets of documents could be kept in this way.


Printing scripts and marking on paper

Although we have moved to online submission this year, colleagues are still welcome to print documents and mark on paper. However there is no central printing service available for completed scripts to be printed, and this would have to be managed individually or locally by departments.


The evidence about marking online

In this video Dr Mary Richardson, Associate Professor in Educational Assessment at the IOE, gives a guide to how online marking can differ from paper-based marking and offers some tips for those new to online marking. The video has captions.


Training sessions and support

Digital Education will be running daily training sessions for teachers covering the ground in this blog post. These will run at 12-1pm every weekday from Tuesday 12 May.

No booking necessary.

We are also providing additional support for students during the exam period. Our support hours will be (UK time):

  • Monday 11.30am-8.30pm
  • Tuesday-Thursday 8am-8pm
  • Friday: 7.30am-3.30pm

Details of support mechanisms are given in the exam section on each Moodle module where an exam is taking place.