Here is a summary of selected topics covered at the EvaSys International Conference held in London in May (5-6).
EvaSys is an evaluation system, developed by Electric Paper Ltd, that the University of Derby chose to use in order to get student feedback on their learning experiences per module. It was previously difficult to get this feedback. EvaSys questionnaires are printed and given to the students to complete in class thus raising chances of getting the feedback. The completed questionnaires are then scanned using EvaSys Scanstations and the results are stored on the system and reports are generated and sent to various stakeholders e.g. module leaders or deans etc. This system also has the online survey option which UDOL uses. It was noted that more feedback is attained via paper based surveys than online. University of Derby also uses EvaExam system for administration of exams at the partner college in Malaysia. Currently 54 UK and Ireland universities use EvaSys.
Electric Paper Ltd. plans to release the next version of EvaSys (v7.0) in January 2016. With regards reporting and statistics, improvements include 20 custom fields for Courses and Participants; complex filters for Report Creator; and merged PDF reports show table of sources. Customer-driven improvements include, hiding answers to open questions; improved categorization, flexible naming of reports; improved maintenance mode; as well as ability to export statistical data via CSV (DAL Light) among other improvements. There are also improvements to the EvaExam system in v7.0 and they include two-column layout; reduction of paper consumption (up to 50%); Intelligence Character Recognition (ICR) for calculations and fill-in-the-gap questions; Formula Editor (MathML, LATEX);
images as background for open questions; and also adjustments clause for grading scales; etc.
Other improved services include updated online support system. Via the Extras tab, users can get live content directly from Electric Paper and also direct access to webinars and newsletters. Updates are highlighted with a + symbol.
The Enterprise Option
Electric Paper is offering The Enterprise Option which is useful for trying the latest release without interfering with production environment, conducting staged updates and developer license to programme Web Services (SOAP API). The Enterprise Option consists of Test License and Software Development Kit (SDK) which is free, 6h Developer Support for 795 € per year, and operation of Electric Paper Developer Network (EPDN) solutions. EPDN comprises of Electric Paper, Customer internal IT and 3rd Party Provider.
The EvaSys system can be embedded with Intuitive Business Intelligence Dashboards which provide detailed visual data for reporting purposes. The Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has been using the dashboards since 2011 and the users have found the dashboards to be useful for supporting a range of monitoring at various levels. Dashboards provide quick and easy access to real time data. Reporting can be on anything including VLE, attendance, timetabling etc.
Module Benchmarking by EvaSys Governance
Electric Paper is in the process of establishing sector-wide Module Benchmarking using questions that are similar to those used in the NSS survey. As there are now more than 50 universities in the UK using EvaSys, institutions will be able to compare their evaluations with other institutions using the same questions. Each institution will have access to its own data and just aggregate data for benchmark questions of other participants. Benchmark outputs from pilot participants are expected in October.
There was also a panel discussion on learning analytics which is thought to be relatively new in the UK but is becoming topical. Dublin City University is looking at engagement with the VLE to predict future performance. It is hoped that library usage and attendance among other areas will be included. University of Surrey switched to online surveys and got 60% response rate. Professor John Taylor from the University of Liverpool said that data collected should be more attention directing than an end in itself.
Electric Paper Research
Here are some of the key outcomes from research that was recently conducted by Electric Paper on how to deliver best practice in course evaluation.
- HE providers require central visibility to drive teaching quality and enhancement. Course evaluation is tied to the NSS used as an early warning mechanism
- Survey fatigue is one of the main concerns regarding participation. In-class evaluation gives the best response rates as compared to online evaluation.
- Regarding staff development, course and module evaluation is about supporting and enhancing academic achievement, not meant to highlight negative results. There should be policy decisions and involvement from the departments and academics regarding the use of data.
- Course evaluation is at the centre of student experience. Student representatives should be involved in all aspects of quality measurement and enhancement efforts.
- Collaboration between HE providers is important. Electric Paper affords this via user conferences and regional group meetings etc.