Students as Active Content Creators: Using Xerte for Assessment in Cyberpsychology at GCU
‘Cyberpsychology’ is an honours-level module offered by the Department of Psychology, Social Work and Allied Health Sciences in the School of Health and Life Sciences. Cyberpsychology can be defined as the study of human behaviour and mental processes in the context of human-technology interaction. This blended learning module makes extensive use of technology-enhanced learning to enable students to experience cyberpsychology-related phenomena firsthand and maximise achievement of the learning outcomes.
The Department introduced a new group-based peer assessment utilising Xerte Online Toolkits. The project provided opportunities for students to work together as active constructors of learning objects, which were then peer assessed. The process of creating the learning objects was also assessed through weekly project blogs. Students gained a greater depth of knowledge, and a wider set of practical skills, through engaging with the elements of subject content, activity creation, and peer assessment.
About the Institution
Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is one of the largest universities in Scotland with nearly 17,000 students from over 100 countries. It is a modern, vibrant, innovative and multi-award winning institution. GCU is strongly committed to enhancing the student experience and aims to equip its students with the skills to enable success in an increasingly digital world.
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The main impetus was to introduce an innovative assessment to enable a shift from students as consumers of course content to producers of online content and as such, enhance students’ digital literacies. This represents a significant change in practice in terms of the creation of knowledge and resources through partnerships with both academic staff and support staff. The learner-generated content can then be shared with the wider academic community, but also made freely available online for anyone to access.
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The barriers to introducing this type of activity and assessment included:
- Staff and students’ current levels of digital literacy
- Taking students out of their comfort zone during the final trimester of their honours-level year when they are very much focused on grades and final degree classification
- The need for systematic recording and evaluation of activities to identify barriers and enablers and disseminate good practice
Finding a solution to the above involved the provision of sufficient support mechanisms in place to develop students’ and staff members’ digital literacies and to give students the confidence to step out of their comfort zone. A key resource was the ‘Human Toolkit’ i.e. a team comprised of the module leader (Jane Guiller), School Learning Techologist (John Smith) and Lina Petrakieva (ICT Skills Tutor). A small grant from the Higher Education Academy (HEA) ‘Digital Literacies in the Disciplines’ Project enabled the module leader to put together a support team – a ‘Human Toolkit.’ This team consisted of a highly experienced Learning Technologist to work closely with students, the module leader, and an ICT Skills Tutor. The Learning Technologist was able to solve problems that staff and students encountered along the way and share his knowledge and skills with the module leader and the ICT Skills Tutor, who also provided essential support to students in bringing their ideas for online content to fruition in Xerte. Together, they put together resources and materials for students to access, as well as providing 1-2-1 support in a friendly, informal environment. Securing funding also provided the means to formally evaluate this change in practice and disseminate the work.
Forty Cyberpsychology students were introduced to the assessment at the start of the module. The students decided to form their own groups and began to think about a potential focus for their learning object and the target audience. Storyboard templates were provided to assist them in planning their learning objects. Groups were set up in the VLE and project blogs were created for the students to use to record their progress (worth 10% of the 25% marks available for this assessment). There were 8 groups of between 4-6 students in each.