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Policy at the Sharp End (Three Short Papers 0130, 0150, 0181)

16:45 - 17:45 on Wednesday, 7 September 2011 in 8.60
0130 eSubmission – UK policies, practice and support Barbara Newland, Lindsey Martin, Andy Ramsden
0150 Squaring the Triangle: Institutional Compliance, Academic Freedom and the Student Voice Alice Bird
0181 Understanding the Development of Learning Technology Support Staff to Push Beyond Maturity Jebar Ahmed
0130 eSubmission – UK policies, practice and support Barbara Newland, Lindsey Martin, Andy Ramsden


eSubmission is being implemented in universities within the UK. The term eSubmission is used very widely to cover a range of activities which include:

  • eSubmission
  • eMarking and eFeedback
  • eReturn
  • Plagiarism deterrence and detection

The process of implementation is generally occurring in departments and Schools with institutional changes in policy and practice following afterwards. This paper provides a snapshot of current policy and practice in UK Higher Education (HE) and identifies the key issues relating to administrative efficiencies, assessment regulations, enhancing feedback and academic attitudes to online making. Esubmission, eMarking, eFeedback and eReturn can save time, save trees, save the energy used for travel and save storage space. eFeedback can enhance learning if it provides more legible, timely and comprehensive feedback to learners (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006) There is usually a mixture of practice between “e” and paper in the assessment process.


An online survey was circulated to the Heads of E-Learning Forum (HeLF, 2011). This forum is a network of senior staff in institutions engaged in promoting, supporting and developing technology enhanced learning. It has over 125 nominated Heads from UK Higher Education institutions. The survey was developed by a group of HeLF representatives who are currently implementing eSubmission in their institution.

Results of work

Only 21% of institutions have an institution-wide policy on eSubmission with 18% have separate regulations and 24% included in existing regulations. The most common technologies used are Turnitin integrated within the VLE or the institutional VLE rather than “home-grown” technologies. Academic attitudes to eSubmission are more positive than those for eMarking and eFeedback. The variety of staff development includes 82% face to face and 82% how-to-guides with 58% providing online video/screencasts. Examples of good practice were identified as well as a range of issues. The survey results were analyzed using quantitative and qualitative methods.


Effective eSubmission has the potential to increase efficiency in organisations by improving their business processes and eFeedback may enhance learning. The survey outcomes, sample guidelines and examples of good practice can inform institutional adoption and changes in policy and practice.

0150 Squaring the Triangle: Institutional Compliance, Academic Freedom and the Student Voice Alice Bird

This paper will explore synergic and conflicting influences impacting on high stakes technology enhanced learning initiatives, in the current higher educational environment. Financial restrictions and requirements to assure quality are promoting institutional policies of compliance. At the same time, the academic community continues to exercise the right to freedom in choosing approaches to teaching, learning and assessment. Meanwhile, students are demanding influence on policy backed up by NSS results and higher tuition fees.

The current exploration of triumvirate influences is drawn from a three-year case study aimed at implementing electronic submission of coursework at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). The paper highlights synergies and conflicts impacting on the direction and outcomes of the case through three main stages; feasibility study, pilot study and early stage implementation.

The findings from the case provide an insight into the additional responsibility of institutional project leaders to achieve consensual conclusions when working to meet the needs of three influential stakeholders of equal status.

At LJMU, development of institutional policy is ongoing. However, it is hoped that the findings to date will promote a better understanding of issues in ‘squaring the triangle’ when faced with influences of institutional compliance, academic freedom and the student voice.

0181 Understanding the Development of Learning Technology Support Staff to Push Beyond Maturity Jebar Ahmed

This is a longitudinal study that monitored the use of Learning Technology within a University School over a period of 5 years. It follows the implementation and promotion of what was originally just the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), from early adoption to a level of relative maturity where web 2.0 tools and e-submission were also made available. This study makes use of qualitative and quantitative methods to explore how learning technology can be supported in Higher Education settings, with specific focus on the development of those that support learning technologies as time progressed. Usage data from the VLE was collected and analysed alongside the content of each module, where each module was allocated a score. Semi-structured interviews were periodically conducted with academic staff and analysed using a thematic approach. Analysis of student feedback from annual course committees and student panel meetings was also used to provide data from a student perspective. This provided a holistic view on the needs of both staff and students. Findings indicated that support strategies were initially capable of targeting large groups of teachers effectively via staff development workshops which led to an increase in the use of the VLE. Pushing beyond a level of maturity meant that LT support staff required additional skills to provide course teams with bespoke and specialised advice, an aspect often overlooked in strategic models. Once adoption of the VLE across the school had reached its peak,

Findings indicated that the skill-set of those providing support evolved from technical expertise to one that incorporates a good understanding of relative pedagogy i.e. contextualisation. LT support staff had to have an insight into the courses that are taught in their department, ascertained through their involvement in student panel meetings, course committees and other quality systems. More importantly, their knowledge needs to be supported through CPD activity. This should be in two areas; a) research on tools, techniques and trends; b) teaching and learning through courses such as a PGCE – Teaching Certificate and additional higher qualifications that will enable LT staff to understand their unique and dynamic role in the educational environment.