Monday, 18 February 2008

Open Source Assessment tools

I attended a JISC - CETIS workshop today discussing the latest set of Open Source assessment tools that JISC has commissioned. The triads of projects is to deliver Authoring, item banking and delivery tools based on the IMS QTI 2.1 standard. For more information on the individual projects, they are:
  • AQuRate (The authoring tool, developed by Kingston University)
  • Minibix (The item banking tool, developed by Cambridge University)
  • ASDEL (The delivery engine, developed by Southampton University)
While I applaud the 3 project teams for the work that they have done, I must also say that I was concerned.

There have been a lot of projects funded by the sector that were supposed to kick start the development and uptake of standards-based e-assessment. Projects like TOIA, APIS, R2Q2. None of these project ever became much more then a proof of concept. The current set of projects seems to be on course to be heading that same way. None of these projects ever have the institutional backing of a stakeholder that understands the long term business need for such a solution. In stead they are research bids by researchers and developers who's only mandate is to fulfill the requirements of the project plan, and who's only resources are those granted by, in this case, JISC. And so after the kick start the project dies, as the funding dries up.

Are we then forever in the hands of the commercial vendors? I certainly hope not, as so far they have been completely unable to impress me with their products. Most commercial tools offer little of the pedagogical affordances and support that they should be giving and are often even technically rather weak. I deeply believe that the only serious hope that we have in ever getting a valuable and usable set of assessment tools is by collaboratively developing them ourselves. Unfortunately the success that Moodle has become in the world of VLE's seems unlikely to be repeated in the area of e-Assessment anytime soon.

Ideas anyone?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

true Rene. Can we have a chat on skype in this regard. My skype id is : skyper.saurabh