"Application Form Development of commentary database software"
LEARNING & TEACHING INNOVATION PROJECT Application Form Please complete this application form in Arial 10pt and submit electronically to email@example.com by 5pm on Wednesday 13th December For guidance please consult the Chair of your Faculty Learning & Teaching Committee or the Learning & Teaching Enhancement Unit www.lsbu.ac.uk/lteu All applications will be considered by the University Learning & Teaching Committee and successful projects will be announced in January 2007 Please specify individual or team project: Individual / Team (Note criteria differ – see details in the Invitation for Proposals ) Contact details Name: Dr John Seeley Job title: Senior Lecturer Faculty: Engineering, Science and The Built Environment Department: Applied Science Address: 103 Borough Road London SE1 0AA Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone number: 020 7815 7038 Other team members (if applicable insert additional rows if necessary) Name: Mr Gustavo Moratorio Faculty/Department: Business, Computing and Information Management Name: Professor Fintan Culwin Faculty/Department Business, Computing and Information Management Name: Six members of academic staff Faculty/Department: Engineering, Science and The Built Environment Project information Title: Development of commentary database software (CODAS) for student feedback Objectives: (Specify how the project will be innovative; enhance student learning; encourage the development of new approaches to learning and teaching; disseminate good practice across the University.) The effectiveness of feedback to students is broadly related to its timeliness and to the depth of commentary that can be provided. The CODAS software can increase the efficiency and enhance the quality of feedback on student work. A personal approach can be maintained by careful construction of comments in the database and inclusion of freeform commentary. The software represents an innovative application of technology to the crucial business of providing feedback to students. Normal feedback is substantially constrained by marker time; it serves to identify problems with student work. Use of the CODAS software allows a shift towards fuller explanation of problems and suggestions as to solutions. The expectation (substantiated by previous versions of this approach) is that students value the additional feedback provided and have greater insight into how to move forward academically. Setting up a linkage to Blackboard for delivery of marked work – a major focus of this proposal – can make a significant contribution to timely provision of feedback. This project seeks to involve others in use of CODAS. The focus group is members of academic staff within FESBE because people know of CODAS development and have shown an interest in using it. Whilst the immediate aim is to deal with any bugs associated with installation or use of the software, a secondary aim is to increase awareness of CODAS and its usefulness. Academic staff volunteering for the trials have to make a significant commitment to using the software – over three separate assignments – and can therefore be expected to have gained a fair level of experience in its use by the end of the trial period. It is likely that a diffusional mechanism will operate, with early users passing on their experiences to colleagues in their subject groups, and so on. Once the functionality of CODAS is established, it can be made more widely available within the university. There will by then be a basis for more detailed commentary on prospects and problems with this approach. Objectives of the work 1. To have a number of academic staff within FESBE trial the use of CODAS (6 members of staff using software, over at least 3 assignments each); 2. To evaluate the software trials from the perspectives of academic staff and of students receiving the work; 3. To develop an in-house (LSBU) capability that enhances Blackboard facilities via the use of Building Blocks APIs; 4. To trial use of CODAS in combination with Blackboard (1 member of academic staff, over 2 assignments); Support requested (up to £3000 individual / £15000 team): £8744 Project description (Please provide a brief description of the work to be conducted, including: rationale and aims; overview of the work plan; deliverables; and outcomes. Maximum 1000 words 1.5 line spacing) Summary Within the constraints of the present workloads of academic staff, feedback to students can be substantially improved. Technology can help with this. We have developed commentary database software (CODAS) which can be applied to the generation of feedback across a range of disciplines and types of work. This proposal is concerned with the development of the software and with the delivery of feedback via the Blackboard VLE. Rationale and background Feedback on student work is widely recognised as making a substantial contribution to student progression and achievement. Under a grant from the HEA (Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism), which terminates in December 2006, the applicants have developed software (CODAS, COmmentary DAtabase for Feedback to Students) that enables any member of academic staff to provide feedback on student work that is available to them in word-processed form. Spontaneous, free-form commentary can be added to student text along with statements drawn from a database, which contains feedback at various levels of detail. As used at present, the statements range, for example, from a few words encouraging a student to provide more detailed explanation (inserted within the student text) to lengthier pieces of commentary that give guidance on the use of scientific units (placed at the end of the student text). The software is presently a proof-of-concept product that has received limited testing on student coursework by a single member of academic staff. Development of CODAS 1. Trials of software use Trials of the software will be conducted by academic staff in FESBE. We intend to recruit staff interested in using this new, computer-based system to provide student feedback. The aim is to identify and deal with low grade problems associated with use of the software, firstly in relation to operating the software on a variety of (fairly) standard personal computers and secondly in relation to functionality. Although staff interests will lie principally within the areas of science and engineering, the software will thereby be tested in a small number of disciplines. It is important to obtain the engagement of staff in a meaningful trial of the system. Effective use of the software also requires the generation of at least some modest form of commentary database. It is therefore proposed that each member of staff be given modest teaching relief in exchange for participation in the trial and commitment to use the software in three separate assessments. 2. Evaluations The software trials will be evaluated from the perspectives of both academic staff and the students receiving feedback. For students, the evaluations will be an additional component of standard unit evaluations. Evaluations for academic staff will involve both brief written feedback and participation in small focus groups. 3. Adjustment of software In relation to staff use of the software, the aims are to identify bugs in the software and to identify aspects of software operation that users found particularly tiresome or unhelpful. Bugs will be fixed and improvements made to the software. However, the major development effort for this proposal involves linking this feedback system to Blackboard; it is not intended to make major, time-consuming alterations to the software over the period of operation of this project. Linking CODAS to Blackboard The principal development in this proposal is linkage of the CODAS software to Blackboard under Building Blocks. Since CODAS was engineered entirely within London South Bank, its architecture and operation are understood in detail. It is therefore a good candidate for early development work with Blackboard. However, the level of difficulty associated with engineering a CODAS-Blackboard link cannot be established without some development work having taken place. Whereas adjustment of the software is a relatively straightforward operation, Blackboard linkage is likely to be much more demanding. There is no experience in LSBU with the library of APIs associated with Building Blocks. Implementing the interaction with CODAS might be straightforward or quite difficult. It may be necessary to seek outside help from those experienced with Building Blocks in order to maintain a satisfactory level of progress. It will certainly be necessary to set up a second virtual Blackboard server on the university network in order to test the CODAS link (and any other developments under Building Blocks) without risk to operation of the primary Blackboard system. This will naturally require input from staff in Computer Services. While there are difficulties and uncertainties here, these problems would apply to any in-house development of the Blackboard system. It is assumed that adoption of Building Blocks involved an acceptance of the need to work through potential difficulties in implementation. In response to these uncertainties it is proposed to carry out this work in two phases. Phase 1 will involve evaluation of the Building Blocks APIs and an assessment of the scope of likely problems. A short report will then be written for LTEU staff and discussed with them. Subject to their agreement as to the likely path of development, Phase 2 of the project will begin, focussed on implementation of the CODAS-Blackboard link. The primary aim is to deliver CODAS feedback via Blackboard, maintaining the one-to-one line of communication between marker and student. Timelines The trials of CODAS will take place over semester 2, 2006-2007 and semester 1, 2007-2008. Work on links to Blackboard will take place over the same period with trials in semester 1, 2007-2008 Deliverables 1. Marking software (CODAS) that been validated through use on a number of independent personal computers (8), two types of computer, by several members of academic staff (7) and within a number of subject disciplines (ca. 4) 2. An evaluation of CODAS by staff (7) and several student groups (at least 7) 3. The ability to provide feedback through the Blackboard system by means of Building Blocks Projected costs (Awards will not be made for the development of course, capital purchase or attending courses) COSTING STAFF Work of Mr Gustavo Moratorio Software Engineer 1 Support for trialling of CODAS software within FESBE 10 hours at £20 per hour 200 2 Development of software to link CODAS software to Blackboard Phase 1, exploratory phase 40 hours at £20 per hour 800 3 Development of software to link CODAS software to Blackboard Phase 2, implementation phase 150 hours at £20 per hour 3000 Work of external software consultant in relation to Blackboard Building Blocks An external consultant will only be used if substantial problems are identified with Building Blocks 1 day at £1000 per day 1000 Work of system administrator, Computer Services, LSBU 10 hours at £20 per hour 200 Work of Professor Fintan Culwin Software Design/implementation Consultant 20 hours at £47 per hour 940 Work of Dr John Seeley Principal Applicant 1 Writing of CODAS instruction manual 4 hours at £33 per hour 132 2 Liaison and evaluation of FESBE trial 18 hours at £33 per hour 594 3 Trialling of CODAS software with Blackboard 6 hours at £33 per hour 198 Work of trialling academic staff 10 hours per member of staff x 6 members of staff x £28 per hour 1680 TOTAL 8744 All bids should indicate if they have support of the relevant Head of Academic Department: Applied Science, FESBE HoD Signature: ________________________________________ Date: ______________ Mr Richard Cadbury