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INASP shares experiences of online peer assessment at MOOC conference

By Daniel West | June 22, 2015  | Global  | News Conference

Online courses – especially Massive Online Open Courses, or ‘MOOCs’ – offer the chance to teach many participants at once, across vast geographical areas, but how does this breadth affect assessment? This question was at the heart of INASP’s presentation at a recent conference of online course leaders.

INASP’s Ravi Murugesan delivered the talk 'Making peer assesment work in Moodle' at iMoot 2015, an annual conference bringing together users of Moodle, a platform employed regularly by INASP to deliver online and blended courses. The conference, which ran from 28 May until 1 June, brought together 249 participants from 38 countries worldwide.

iMoot sessions were streamed live online, with delegates able to sign in and comment chatroom-style. All talks were then publicly archived, so that users could revisit the content, and those in different time zones could observe proceedings. Ravi presented his talk twice, to a total of around 30 participants. “It was my first time presenting at an online conference, and I had an enjoyable experience – it definitely exceeded my expectations,” said Ravi.

Ravi shared his experiences of setting up and facilitating peer assessment activities for AuthorAID courses on INASP Moodle. Peer assessment is a good way to offer participants feedback on their progress, and is particularly useful when learners significantly outnumber teachers. In a peer assessment activity on Moodle, there is a submission phase and an assessment phase. Participants first submit their work, for example, an essay. Then, they are randomly allocated a predefined number of their peers’ assignments for assessment. They are given an assessment form or rubric to evaluate those assignments. At the end of this activity, participants get structured feedback on their work from their peers.

Ravi finds that peer assessment is  most effective when its purpose and logic are clearly explained to users. Detailed glossaries and tips inform participants of Moodle’s structure and their place within it, thereby reducing common questions, and encouraging responsible and proactive learning. Ravi’s presentation focused on the AuthorAID “mini MOOC” last year, which was on the topic of research writing. About 180 researchers from more than 30 developing countries completed this course. “Most of the participants in the mini MOOC said that they enjoyed assessing their peers’ work and found the feedback they got on their own work to be useful,” said Ravi.

In a reflection of Moodle’s flexibility, the iMoot conference was hosted on Moodle itself, and presenters were able to set up activities for their participants. “I felt connected to my audience when presenting because I could see all of their names, and they could interact with me and other participants in a chat window. I also set up a sample peer assessment activity, so that they could experience it first-hand,” said Ravi. One of the participants, a teacher in Kansas, said “[the sample activity] gives me a clearer understanding of what types of instruction to give at the various phases/stages [of peer assessment].”

INASP will be sharing the key points of Ravi’s presentation in a forthcoming blog post, so make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay informed. For more details on iMoot and Moodle, check their respective websites or browse relevant tweets at #iMoot15 and #Moodle.

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