TEL Communities

Helen Caldwell and Anna Cox | View as single page | Feedback/Impact
TEL Communities
Definitions: Theoretical background relevant to technology facilitated social learning
Research evidence: Systematic literature reviews on the theme of technology facilitated social learning

Example 5: Using digital tools for student assessment

Digital tools image























We share two example digital assignments:
1.Course: Foundation Degree Learning and Teaching (FDLT) Year: 2 Module: PDT2016 Enriching the Curriculum: beyond the school.
Assignment: Digital artefact (ThingLink)
Students will identify a location beyond the school site, visit and research it and create a ThingLink to communicate key features and learning opportunities.
Tools: ThinglinkEDU and associated multimedia tools linked through this.

2. Discussion board: Course: Early Years BA top up Year: 3 Module: EYS3121 Specialist Option: Education
Assignment: To discuss and debate a controversial issue in Early Childhood within an online debate forum.
Tools: Blackboard discussion board on Northampton ILE
Marking strands: formulate and respond to arguments; utilise features of the discussion board; work as a group; professional responses

JISC recommends that assignment design should include:
‘Learning and assessment activities through which learners’ digital practices can be demonstrated, recognised and progress’.
’Good design should make the assessment experience inspiring and motivating for both students and staff. It should create a positive climate that encourages interaction and dialogue. Assessment should appear relevant and authentic and wherever possible allowed students to draw on their personal experience and to exercise choice with regard to topics, format and timing of assessment.” (JISC, 2016, p2)

Student feedback:
A greater feeling of engagement than expected and than they would normally feel when writing for an essay
Inspiring and motivating
Encourages interaction and dialogue - by its very nature and design a discussion or debate does this
Relevant and authentic - through the discussion topics chosen, of relevance to the students working the field of Early Years
Personal experience - opportunities to use experience from work based practice alongside wider academic reading


Edwards, J., and Caldwell, H. (2016) Exploring the use of digital technology in assessment with students in higher education: assignment design and assignment guidance. Paper presented to the ITTE 30th International Annual Conference. London, 2 July.


JISC (2014) Students’ expectations and experiences of the digital environment. [online] Available from:  [Accessed: 16/09/15]
JISC (2016) Transforming assessment and feedback with technology. [online] Available from: [Accessed; 30/06/16]

Example assignment guidance:
Foundation Degree in Learning and Teaching

Assignment Brief: AS2 discussion board postings

Assignment Title:

Use the ThingLinks from the colleagues in your group (AS1) as a basis for discussion and analysis of learning experiences that take place beyond the classroom and school. You will identify and evaluate key issues that may arise when schools seek to enrich learning and motivate learners by leaving the school site. The discussion will take place on a NILE discussion board to which you will make a minimum of eight postings. (3000 words)

Description of the assignment:

You will be placed in a group of approximately ten students, mixed across venues. In this group you will be given access to the digital reports created for AS1. You will interact with these, seeking to identify issues related learning experiences that take place beyond the classroom and school. You will relate these to the reading you have found. You will discuss the issues arising from the digital reports and your reading in your group’s online discussion board. There should be evidence of interaction between students in the group, taking up and exploring each other’s views and arguments, asking and answering questions. Your first post should introduce yourself and the approach to learning beyond the school in your setting. Your final post should be a summary of your views on learning beyond the school site demonstrating some reflection on the discussion.

·   The discussion groups will be open for two weeks.

·   Each student must make a minimum of eight contributions to their group’s discussion board.

·   Postings should be of between 300 and 500 words to an overall total of 3000 words, not including the references.

·   Academic reading and focused experiences from practice used analytically should be present in postings.

·   The discussion groups will be monitored by a named tutor and any queries about the discussion should be directed in the first instance to the named tutor.

·   You may use ‘I’ and write in the first person in this assignment although you still should take care to sustain an appropriate academic tone.

·   Your posts to the discussion should be downloaded directly from the NILE discussion board, including header details and presented with no changes (other deletion of photos).

·   You must use the assignment cover sheet designed specifically for this assignment.

In the assignment you should demonstrate:

1.    A professionally expressed response to the contributions of others.

2.    Use of NILE discussion board.

3.    An introductory and concluding post

4.    Critical analysis and argument in the postings you contribute and respond to.

5.    Use of academic reading

6.    Reference to work-based practice

7.    Citation and referencing

8.    Use of Standard English

9.    Academic writing

(Jean Edwards, University of Northampton, 2016)