Assessment and Feedback in ICT


Originally uploaded by Pkabz

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, but real life has been taking over of late.

Thankfully, I was emailed today asking about how I deal with assessment at KS3 so I can kill two birds with one stone.

The email wasn’t so much what or how I assess, but how do I communicate this with the students and how do they respond to it. In many subjects a stuck in sheet at the front of the book serves to maintain a persistent and consistent platform for feedback and responses – but in ICT lessons we don’t use exercise books, and I’m loathe to start just for that reason.

We could always give students pieces of paper, or have them filed in the room, but this seems similarly arbitrary and far from ideal.

We did try using Moodle for a good few years, with a course set aside just for assessed pieces of work to be uploaded and feedback given. It required one upload assignment for each assessed unit and while the feedback was persistent (students could always go back and look at it) it was still very unidirectional.

Since about the middle of last year we’ve been using the Moodle Dialogue Module. While I was loathe to start adding non-core modules because of the hassles involved in upgrading further down the line, the functionality really couldn’t be found any other way.

Installation and setup is simple, although it’s virtually essential to be using groups*. I find it easiest to get the students to initiate the dialogue (you need to be enrolled as a teacher for the students to see you) although you can start a dialogue with an entire group at a time.

Both sides can write messages and upload files and the conversation is private between you and the student. This way the student can upload their work with a brief self-assessment, you can leave detailed feedback and they can respond. Every 3 or 4 lessons we bring the students back to the dialogue and look at what their specific targets are and can measure their own progress.

We’re also in the process of designing some large display boards with level descriptors so students can refer to these as they go.

It’s not perfect, and one of the bugbears is that impatient students will hit the submit button 3 or 4 times, creating 3 or 4 entries that can’t be edited or removed after the 30 minute grace period.

On the whole, though, it’s working very well and in the whole discussions and working parties on assessment and feedback our system has been praised by SLT – so it can’t be that bad!

* Top tip: Set up the groups before you enrol the students and give each group a unique enrolment key. Put a different enrolment key on the course and when students sign up with their class’ enrolment key they automatically appear in the right group.


Mukoku course: Y9 programming w/Alice


As mentioned in a previous post, I have been working on a 6 week Scheme of Work aimed at introducing Year 9 students to programming, specifically with Alice for 5 lessons out of the 6. I’ve run this unit this term and have made minor changes so I’m pretty confident that I could use this ‘off the shelf’.

As always, the materials are provided with a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license and there is a full Moodle backup of the course available so you can drop it straight in if you’re Moodled up yourself.

This course (and several others) is now available at

Grand Designs


Image: roach family

You’ve seen the TV show (if you haven’t, it’s a documentary following people building their own houses), now you can do the unit of work!

At the start of Year 9 we do a full term (12-14 weeks) based around the designing and promoting of a new housing estate. The students plan the estate, design the houses in Google Sketchup, do some financial modelling, create some form of advert and finally present their work to a board of directors (because only 1 proposal will be successful and only one student will be paid!). There are also easy tie ins for data handling and even sequencing (using some of the house-based Flowol mimics).

If you’re interested, you can see all of the resources and even download them as a full Moodle course at Mukoku.

Big Ideas, Big Problems

Back in September, the school found out there was some funding available via an organisation called LSIS for a project to raise achievement at KS5. One of my English colleagues approached me and proposed a more engaging VLE-type experience as his students sometimes find Moodle a little dry and institutional.

We’ve now got the go ahead, and some funding, to implement something. Having had a sit down with my visionary colleague, he’d like the students to see a classroom with, say, a bookshelf where all of the books link to resources and the posters link to activities, etc.

Options? I could create a simple HTML or Flash front-end that would point to Moodle activities or resources. This would be pretty obvious and I think the students would see through it fairly quickly.

At the other end, I could code my own CMS from scratch. By mid-January. In my spare time *fnarr*.

Somewhere in the middle I could choose a simple CMS and skin it to hell, or maybe even try with Moodle. Necessary features would be:

  • Login (for tracking use)
  • Resource hosting (textual & multimedia)
  • Student communication (either a forum, IMs or both)
  • Web conferencing capabilities (almost certainly linked to a 3rd party, maybe DimDim)
  • Setting and Uploading work, ideally with the capability to provide feedback

I also considered Edmodo, which would meet some or all of the criteria above – but isn’t customisable in terms of appearance and therefore doesn’t provide the GUI that is required.

Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?