Integrating Assessment Tools with Moodle – Lightwork

Brian Coll

Institute of Technology Sligo

While virtual learning environments(VLE’s) such as Moodle have proved very effective at integrating many of a lecturer’s tasks, it is in the area of assessment that it has traditionally been weak.  While Moodle allows the student to upload their assignment to Moodle, the lecturer often has to do all of the marking and assessment offline and then input this feedback into  Moodle.  A new set of assessment tools which integrate with Moodle are now becoming available to address this issue.
This presentation will provide an overview of Lightwork – a formative assessment tool which can be integrated with Moodle.  Lightwork was launched in early 2010 and is one of the first tools that greatly enhances the assessment capability of Moodle.  Another assessment tool Waypoint provides similar functionality and will be compared with Lightwork during this presentation.
Research has shown that regular feedback on a student’s performance has a positive influence on retention rates and their overall grades[1]. “Positive assessments that reduce anxiety, are continuous throughout the course and provide good feedback on progress are potent factors in encouraging students to adopt deep approaches to study”[2]  While the pedagogical benefits of regular assessment have been well documented over many years, it has in practice been difficult to implement.
The challenges for the lecturer in providing this level of feedback are in setting and marking assessments, dealing with large groups, and the time commitment required to provide individual feedback to each student.  While there are several traditional techniques available to assist the lecturer in this task, many of these are still very manual and time consuming.
This presentation will discuss how the lecturer can use new tools such as Lightwork and  Waypoint to standardise their marking scheme and to reduce the time required to mark assignments while still providing valuable feedback to each student.  This will allow the lecturer to increase the frequency of assessments with minimal additional work.  A demonstration on how these tools are being utilised on the IT Sligo online engineering courses will form a core part of this session.
[1]  Brown et al 1999, Computer Assisted Assessment in Higher Education, Routledge, London.
[2] Berry, J and Whitworth, R 1989,  Case Study: Access Engineering through HITECC, Education & Training Technology International, Vol.26, pp.23-30

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