Conference time: -
Update from Day 1 of the REAP International Online Conference

Day 1 of the Conference has been buzzing with chat, discussions and exchanges of ideas! Almost 400 people have looked at over 14,000 pages!

Here's a run-down of some highlights.

Session on Web.2 Pedagogic design and Wikis
A lively debate for the first session of the conference, despite it being breakfast time for UK delegates!  The thorny issue of assessing collaborative activities had already been a focus on the message-boards, and this was picked up in the chat session.  David Nicol highlighted the formative/summative dilemma: that students are less likely to experiment and innovate if they think this has a risky impact on their marks, but participation levels might be compromised for purely formative activities.  Participants shared ideas for a rubric to summatively assess WIKI activities. 

Regarding the impact of online collaboration on face-to-face interactions, many saw online technologies as conducive to a better face-to-face experience, but recognised that the design of face-to-face experiences must also change.

Discussion on using Wikis to collect information about students' levels of understanding of a subject to inform that week's class pointed to a great example of 'just-in-time' teaching.

Keynote on Theory and practice of assessment
A packed chat session with lots of 'big' questions about theory and principles of assessment. The placing of these principles within the dimensions of social/academic experiences and empowerment/engagment has been picked up in this keynote's discussion fora, see the Topic on 'Position of the principles in the framework diagram'.

Another Topic is debating choice in assessment, in which it is proposed that assessment should be multidimensional. Fran Everingham's post also brings in questions around the transition between solo and group work - a point that came up in the chat session as well.

There's some new terms out there too - what about a "thought asset", to find out more see the second post by Mary Welsh in the Discussion Topic on Social constructivism.

Session on Effective Feedback to 550 Students
Perhaps one of the busiest discussion fora so far! Derek Rowntree has also started a Topic dedicted to 'Assessment and the first-year experience'. He asks whether delegates think there is something special about the first year of higher education, and if so what are the implications in terms of differences in assessment?

Session on Aligning assessment at the institutional level
Discussion during the chat session touched on the importance of involving a range of people when planning assessment practices within an institution of using both a 'top down' and 'bottom up' approach to ensure cooperation, and ownership, at all levels.

How to encourage staff to see the benefits of assessment was  also discussed, along with means of convincing staff to engage with the process of developing assessment practices rather than simply resisting change.

The perception that changing assessment practices adds to the instructor's workload is a hot topic in the forum, see 'Assessment and Workload'.

If you missed Day 1, all the chat transcripts are archived, and will be available for download in their respective Session pages. Also, there's still plenty time to join in the discussion fora!

One easy way to see the hot discussion topics:

In the navigation bar on the left hand side, go to 'Conference Sessions', then 'Discussion fora'. Choose the link near the top of the page called 'Active Topics'. This will give you a listing of all discussion topics that have been posted to during the conference, so you can jump right in and read what delegates have been talking about.

Now for Day 2!
Real-time or chat discussions kick-off on Wednesday at 8am with our second keynote. Prof David Boud will be joining us from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, to lead the discussion on his paper entitled 'Great designs: what should assessment do?'

Staying international, for our third keynote we welcome Prof Trudy Banta with Prof Sharon J Hamilton and Dr Susan Kahn, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, USA. They will be online at 3pm to discuss 'Using electronic portfolios to assess learning at IUPUI'.

Remember, please enter the live chat before the scheduled start time!

There's lots happening in the chat, and look forward to hearing more from you on the discussion boards!

Enjoy the conference,

Dr Rachel A Harris
Inspire Research Ltd

On behalf of the REAP project team, and the conference organisers, Inspire Research Ltd