Quality assessment with LMS Gradebook

Allison Miller, eWorks Accredited ConsultantAllison is passionate about providing learners with the knowledge and skills that they need in order to succeed in the world of work. And part of good teaching is quality assessment. Today Allison considers the one of the best ways to manage the assessment process – LMS Gradebook.

Improving the quality of assessment in VET

Excellent Feedback Thumbs Up Review Like ApprovalThe Australian Government’s “Improving the quality of assessment in VET” agenda aims to identify reforms needed to improve the conduct of assessment in the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

This has come about as a result of audits and strategic reviews undertaken by the Australian Skills and Quality Authority (ASQA) which identified that Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) train well but assess poorly. This is because whenever an RTO is found to be non-compliant at audit, assessment was always an issue. While there are many components to a quality VET assessment system, one key component is effectively managing the assessment process itself.

Enter the Learning Management System (LMS) Gradebook

One of the best ways to manage the assessment process is by using a Learning Management System (LMS) Gradebook. Interestingly, this is the case even if the training program isn’t an online course. The LMS Gradebook replicates a traditional gradebook or marks book, where there is a list of learners’ names down the left hand side, and along the top is all of the assessment activities that need to be assessed. The matrix in the middle is then populated by your learners’ work, their results and your feedback.

What’s so good about the LMS Gradebook?

There are many ways the LMS Gradebook can improve assessment processes, such as:

  • All assessment information and criteria, together with the learner’s work, is all located in the one place, which you and your learners can access from anywhere and at any time.
  • The Gradebook enables consistency and quality as all learners across a training program are given the same assessment information and criteria.
  • Learners can provide comments about their work which the assessor can take into account when marking their work.
  • As soon as you mark your learners’ work and provide them with feedback in the LMS, this information is automatically populated into the Gradebook, and the learner is notified by email that their work has been marked.

Using the LMS Gradebook means that you have a record of all your learners’ work (evidence), their results (your assessment judgement) and your feedback all in one place. This means you can easily access this information to:

  • manage the assessment validation process
  • know where learners are up to in case a trainer leaves (or wins lottery or becomes ill), or
  • a learner disputes their results.

LMS Gradebook also helps improve assessment activities

As an LMS offers a range of individual and collaborative activity options that are linked to the Gradebook, you can draw upon a range of assessment methods such as:

  • assignments
  • quizzes
  • forums
  • instant messaging
  • groups activities: Database, Glossary and Wiki
  • importing external / customised tools / objects.

The types of assessment activity options available will depend on which LMS you are using and whether your LMS has additional ‘plug-in’ options.

Most standard files types are accepted by an LMS Gradebook, so you can accept a range of evidence types such as images, audio and video.

And it can even help improve learner’s work while reducing cheating  

On the World Wide Web, finding and copying information or accessing other learners’ work and using it as your own is very easy to do. By using the LMS Gradebook with anti-plagiarism software you can discourage cheating and plagiarism as learners’ work is checked upon uploading. This software can also encourage learners to review their work properly for any glaring blocks of text which could be viewed as plagiarised before submitting it.

Sound like what you need?

Contact eWorks to find out more.

 

SCORM and Moodle: Common issues and easy solutions

Bernadette ParryBernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TrainingVC training, advanced Moodle training and support desk services. Today Bernadette considers common issues when it comes to working with SCORM and Moodle, and simple solutions to these problems.

What is SCORM?

SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model. It’s not just a name though. It’s a series of specifications that define information exchanged between the learner’s interactions with the content and the Learning Management System (see image below using Moodle as the LMS). Still a bit of a mouthful? Basically, this is what you should know about using SCORM packages with Moodle:

  1. SCORM packaging is a standard way of putting together some web pages and other content that is then zipped into a .ZIP file. This is a convenient way to transport (share) bits of content. The final ZIP file is often referred to as a SCORM object or SCORM package.
  2. Once the package has been uploaded to Moodle, the user can interact with the SCORM package. For example, learners can click on items that respond, and complete quizzes.
  3. Information is then passed between the SCORM package and Moodle. Examples of this Information are quiz scores (if there are any), and the pages looked at. There may or may not be a grade in the SCORM package. 

SCORM Moodle flowchart

How are SCORM packages created?

There are many ways to create SCORM packages, including the use of software such as Wimba Create, Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline. SCORM modules can also be composed of regular old HTML – a mini website if you will. Don’t forget that to make quality SCORM packages, you need to plan, be creative, and make the content engaging and educationally sound.

Should you use SCORM?

Content made using the commercial authoring tools such as Lectora, Wimba Create, etc can help to make your course look more professional, and they are very popular for this reason. However, do keep in mind that if you are using Moodle/Totara, then reporting and grading using standard Moodle activities works better. One of the main benefits of SCORM packaging is the portability of e-learning content which is often expensive and time consuming to create.

Common problems when working with SCORM

1. Changing/updating the SCORM package

SCORM packages that are created in proprietary software are not so easy to edit unless you have that software and the technical skills to use it. You may also need the original files that the SCORM package was created with. (Note that this is not restricted to SCORM packages.)

2. Completion issues

The following may cause issues with the SCORM package sending completion information to Moodle:

  • Having multiple browser tabs open and flicking between them. Best not to do it – each tab doesn’t necessarily have the whole picture of the steps you have taken.
  • Not exiting the package correctly. You must click exit and follow the steps precisely. You should not close the browser/browser page to exit the SCORM package because it is the exit that sends the message to the LMS that the SCORM package has been completed.
  • A temporary internet outage.
  • Using the back button at any time while working on the SCORM package. Again best not to do it – the history of your interactions can become confused.
  • Refreshing the browser page while working in the SCORM package. This isn’t a good idea – you may lose your progress.

3. Is your SCORM package a valid SCORM package?

In other words, is your module SCORM compliant? Of course there are other folders/files/rules required, but this is one good way to check:

  • Unzip your .zip – and there should be a file called ‘imsmanifest.xml’ in the root directory. This is vital as it has information about the navigation structure of the web pages, how to find images, a unique identifier, metadata, etc.
  • Use SCORM 1.2 – be aware that SCORM 2004 is not supported in Moodle.

4. And for the more technically minded:

  • At least one item in the manifest file must reference a resource which is identified as a ‘SCO’.
  • If an HTML page is referenced as the resource for an item in the manifest file it must contain LMS calls.

5. Using a SCORM package in Moodle

  • For SCORM packages which don’t return a score, instead simply relying on the user completing them, the SCORM settings under grading method should be set to Learning Objects. This updates the course score for the user.
  • If you have a package in a Moodle course that some learners have already started/completed, and you update the SCORM package, then the learner’s data remains intact. However, the completion date may be updated to whenever the new version of the SCORM package was uploaded. Note: if you change the identifiers in the imsmanifest.xml file, the learner tracking data can be deleted.

Ready to kick up a SCORM?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one. You can find further valuable information about using SCORM modules on the E-standards for Training and Moodle websites. Or contact eWorks to find out how we use SCORM packages.

Who gives a Moodle about learner engagement? Auditors!

Jo Norbury

Jo manages a range of e-learning content services including Flexible Learning Toolboxes and the VET Commons online community. An enthusiastic and passionate e-learning advocate, Jo specialises in design and delivery that focuses on take-up, usability and engagement – so helping learners to learn. But how do we measure this learning and provide evidence to auditors quickly and easily?

Once upon a time…

in a pen and paper land far, far away, no-one had heard of Moodle and teaching meant face-to-face in a classroom. Nowadays not only are trainers expected to put their courses online and offer a blended delivery approach, they also need to demonstrate:

  • learner access
  • attendance, usage, and
  • engagement.

But how do you find engaging content, use it to engage your learners and then prove you did it?

A modern learning strategy

The demands and expectations on training and delivery are higher than ever before. But that’s okay – we have digital learning! Predictions, forecasts and trends discussed in multiple reports suggest that in 2015 98% of organisations will use e-learning courses as part of their learning strategy, and that by 2016 98% of organisations will use video. In the new IoT (Internet of Things) smart devices capture everything. Smarty-pants Moodle can track everything too, but if the data isn’t there our poor friend Moodle has nothing to capture!

How to engage and prove it

Keeping your auditors happy without spending all of your time doing it is about making sure you have a delivery system with trackability functionality and then getting it set up properly from the start. Here are just a few factors you might like to consider:

  • What are the main engagement metrics?
  • Which activities can be used to demonstrate engagement (and which can’t)?
  • How to source and use engaging content (including videos).
  • How to use the SAMR Model (Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition) to transform tasks into engaging activities.
  • How to track and ‘prove’ engagement in general.

Are you going to Moodlemoot 2015?

Don’t miss Jo’s presentation about all of this on the final day of the event, Wednesday 8 July. Now is your chance to:

  • find out whether you’re doing what you need to be doing
  • how to do it if you’re not, and
  • share ideas with peers.

Can’t make it? Don’t worry! Subscribe to eLink for a follow-up summary, including easy tips and tricks.

Buying an LMS? Don’t get ripped off!

Marlene Liontis

Marlene Liontis is the director of Lion Global HR Pty Ltd and a member of eWorks’ team of Accredited Consultants. She also founded her first e-learning company in 2009 and learned a huge amount about learning management systems in the process. Now she is keen to share what she learned in an effort to make life easier for anyone getting started in digital learning. With so many LMS models on the market how do we choose the right option for the short, medium and long-term – without getting ripped off?

LMS stands for ‘like my status’. Doesn’t it?

Let’s be honest. At some point in your life you have asked the question – either to a colleague or a search engine – ‘What is an LMS?’ And it’s a big step from knowing what an LMS is to understanding which type of LMS your business needs – even if you regularly use one. Because part of this understanding needs to include an awareness of what your LMS could be doing for you – either now or as your business expands. So you might think you have the best LMS in the world, until you find out that a whole bunch of things that you have been doing manually could easily be automated with the right set-up. And it can be daunting to approach vendors. A little like buying a car, you want them to at least think you know what you’re talking about so that they don’t take you for a – sorry – ride.


Credits: Guy,s Fine LMS 4-6-0 tender locomotive 3, by Les Chatfield

Seven quick questions for your LMS vendor

Fortunately, with only a few key questions you can ensure that an LMS can do what you need it to do and what you might need it to do one day. These questions have the added bonus of making you sound like you know what you’re talking about – an opportunity to fake it until you make it. And since the answers will help you to understand the concept of an LMS generally and each product specifically, the entire process will be part of your learning curve. Here we go, seven easy questions to ask your LMS vendor before committing to a new system:

1. Is it easy to implement?

A system that can be implemented quickly will reduce costs and roll out time and make life easier for you and your staff.

2. Is it easy to configure and customise?

Make sure the LMS reflects the way your organisation works and not the other way around. More time and money saved and staff grumbles avoided

3. Is it secure?

Does the LMS feature in-built security that lines up with your organisation’s policies? You really want to know this before you sign up.

4. Does it provide comprehensive reporting tools?

Consider your organisation’s requirements for concise compliance reports and performance appraisals. Whatever you want to achieve, there is more than likely a product out there that can do it.

5. What about functionality?

What level of functionality does your organisation require and will this change over time? What are the cost implications of these potential changes?

6. How about scalability?

Can the system grow in line with your organisation? Can it even promote your growth?

7. Does the vendor provide other services?

Ask the vendor if they offer content development? Consultancy? Training? Ideally you want a one-stop shop for all of your digital learning needs.

Need more words of wisdom from Marlene?

Take a look at her other blog posts:

Clear as mud? Feel free to get in touch if you’re struggling.