Dr Victoria Escaip – Using online video for language assessment

By Dr Victoria Escaip (Spanish Subject co-ordinator) and Richard Davies (Flexible Learning Advisor)

When you have the problem of high student numbers, limited staff time, and a desire for a personalised assessment process, what do you do? This article explores one recently tried solution for language assessment that makes the most of the technology academic staff and  students have at their disposal, in conjunction with the Learning Management System at UC.

Around the middle of last year, there was a goal. An idea to find ways to make use of the technology LEARN has to offer to make the Spanish courses better for students and staff alike. Some aspects were relatively straightforward to implement such as improved course design, use of the Gradebook and electronic submissions. One of the trickier and more difficult problems was how to find a better way to assess the speaking skills of a large number of students. The existing face-to-face method was complex and exhausting for the staff, and anxiety ridden for students.

The solution proposed was to use the recording function in a LEARN quiz question to both record the questions and the answers. Initially the idea of using just audio was investigated but it quickly became apparent there was no way of verifying who had actually taken the test. As an alternative, better solution, recording both video and audio was looked into.

After some initial testing which proved promising, there was another concern. How could we ensure the students didn’t just tell each other what the questions were going to be so they could prep ahead of time? The solution to this was to create a bank of questions at three different difficulty levels in which the computer each time would randomly pick some out to quiz the student. This randomisation would simulate what the teacher did in person.

Having dealt with that problem there were two more issues, what devices would the quiz be suitable for and how do we make sure it is fool proof for the students. Some sample questions were tested on a variety of devices. Research found that the only 100% reliable approach was to use a laptop or desktop computer. Although there was some concern that some students may not have access to a laptop or desktop, use of one was offered to students if necessary. The instructions that students would read were then carefully gone through with images included to ensure there was no misunderstanding. Each question included the instructions as due to the random sorting we would not know which question would come first.

A practice quiz was set up to ensure students had a chance to check their device was working before they did the formal test. This practice test had two questions that were not going to be used in the formal test, and students could do this practice test as many times as they liked. This allowed students to make sure their equipment was working correctly in advance and, most importantly, to familiarize themselves with the procedure.

It was important to get the timing and the number of questions right. If you set too short a time the students will not be able to get through all of the questions. If you give them too long then they will have enough time to look up the answers before they respond. So two senior students were asked to do the quizzes a couple of times and their feedback allowed the adjustment of timing.

Finally, the best way to grade was considered. Rather than marking each question one at a time it was considered a more efficient approach to view all of the answers given as a collection, just as it is done in a face-to-face situation, and then give an overall mark by entering it directly into the Gradebook.

What were the results?

  1. The time problem was solved. The oral assessment online maximized the resources available without affecting the quality of the assessment. There was not a single complaint and all 83 students went through this procedure smoothly.
  2. A relaxed test environment. We were pleased to see that students were much more relaxed than in a face-to-face oral test situation. Some of them were even wearing their pyjamas and looked really comfortable in their skins. We believe this procedure enabled them to give their best and helped them to achieve better marks.
  3. Fair marking. On one hand, due to the appropriate time given for the test, higher-level students were able to answer all the questions, or most of them, thus getting a high mark, while lower-level students would lose time when looking up for answers before responding, which prevented them from completing the test, achieving a lower mark, which in all cases corresponded to the lecturer’s criteria. On the other hand, the fact of having more time to mark the tests on the lecturer’s own time, without the rush of having to assess one student after the other, contributed to a fairer marking when assigning grades since each answer was listened more carefully, and a comparative grading scale could be established before assigning the final mark for each student.
  4. Other positive outcomes. A pleasing and surprising outcome was that all the students’ answers to the question “What are you like?” (a traditional question to which students need to respond using vocabulary and the verb ‘to be’, a tricky verb in Spanish) were really positive. Answers such as “I’m intelligent”, “I’m hardworking”, “I’m good looking” were the norm, in opposition to the usual ones in a face-to-face situation: “I’m dumb”, “I’m ugly”, “I’m lazy, ha ha ha”. This says much about how a relaxing environment can provide them with more personal confidence and even boost their self-esteem!

All in all, the students were more spontaneous, they did not have a bad time, as it happens for many in a face-to-face oral test situation, and it actually seemed that they had a lot of fun video recording themselves and looking at themselves on the screen.

What did the end result look like? See below:

Professor Tanja Mitrovic: Video Based Learning

In this presentation Professor Mitrovic discusses video based learning using AVW-Space. AVW-Space is a video-watching environment designed to support student engagement by providing micro-scaffolds to facilitate video commenting. Seven studies investigating the use of AVW-Space for the development of student presentation skills have been conducted. These studies show that students who engage with video content by writing comments and rating the comments of other students significantly improved their knowledge of presentation skills.


UC Teaching Month – e-Learning Events

The e-Learning support team is hosting a number of events for UC Teaching Month. This presents a great opportunity to learn about what is happening in e-Learning at UC and internationally. All are invited to attend.

Events include:

Relearning E-Learning
Wednesday, 17 July 2019: 1:30- 3PM, Rehua 103 (no registration required)

UC lecturers share their technology enabled teaching practices that support student learning and success. Come along if you are looking to try something new in your technology enabled teaching.

Speakers include:

  • Tanja Mitrovic – Video based learning.
  • Kate Pedley – Using Echo360 to engage students.
  • Jerry Maroulis (Wageningen University) – To MOOC or not to MOOC.
  • Viktoria Papp – Digital note taking vs handwritten notes and their effect on student achievement.\
  • Victoria Escaip – Using online video for language assessment.

Teaching Month Online Seminars and Workshops

Unbundling University Project
Online: Wednesday, 10 July 2019 (free – no registration required).
The seminar will be live streamed via zoom and all are welcome to attend.

Professor Laura Czerniewicz (Director, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at University of Cape Town) is presenting at Victoria University, Wellington from 3-4pm on her Unbundling University project. Laura is speaking about the Unbundled University project which examines the profound confluence which constitutes the unbundled university – the intersection of increasingly disaggregated curricula and services, the affordances of digital technologies, the growing marketization of the higher education sector itself and the deep inequalities which characterise both the sector and the contexts in which they are located.

Information about the seminar can be found at

The link to the seminars online meeting space is

ACODE 79: Supporting Universities for Future Qualifications’ & Pedagogical Models
Online 15-26th July: free.

The Australasian Council on Open, Distant & e-Learning (ACODE) is conducting a fully online workshop over 15-26th July

Led by a team of ACODE facilitators working with international speakers, the workshops will explore the following questions and reflect on how we can work to shape future planning and support for learning and teaching.

  1. How are universities structuring their activities and offerings and what challenges does this present for those enabling technology enhanced learning?
  2. How are university-vendor relationships changing in the sector and how will this affect our aspirations and capabilities for the future of technology enhanced learning?
  3. How are universities defining their places as higher education institutions in diverse and competing contexts? How can technology help maintain a community of learners and scholars while also supporting scale and access?

More information at https://www.acode.edu.au/course/view.php?id=3#section-1

Register at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeEVg14kPWhf6-hLr4mzhFq_GR4zdi27rbV1okyB7DF_DVjEw/viewform

Information about all UC Teaching Month Events can be found at https://intranet.canterbury.ac.nz/academicservices/Teaching%20Month.shtml

New Technologies for Learning & Teaching

Asking students questions in lectures: Qwizdom QVR

Digital experience insights survey 2018: findings from Australian and New Zealand university students report identified that students enjoyed being asked questions in class. Students feel that they learn better when they are engaged and challenged in this way. But, how can lecturers do this with large classes. One way is to use an Audience Response System (ASR)

Qwizdom QVR is a virtual audience response system that enables lecturers to ask questions during class and allows students to respond.

Qwizdom QRV integrates with PowerPoint, allowing you set up your PowerPoint slides with interactive questions which are presented to students during the lecture.  Using the QVR Mobile Response App, students can respond to the questions from their devices (phone, tablet, laptop etc.) no matter where they are, as long as they have an internet connection.  Student responses are collected and displayed when you need it. UC has 30 lecturer licences that support class sizes of up to 500 students. If you would like a Qwizdom licence contact Donna Thompson (donna.thompson@canterbury.ac.nz)

Qwizdom QVR is just one of the virtual audience response system (ARS) available at UC. Other ARS available to you include: LEARNS Choice activity and UCanAsk. If you would like to know more about ARS available to you and the ways in which these can be used to facilitate student engagement and success contact a Flexible Learning Advisor (FLA). FLA contact details can be found at https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/library/support/e-learning-support/

Asking questions is a great way to engage students in lecturers. Use audience response systems such as Qwizdom to enable the teaching practice of questioning.

Collaborative content creation: Padlet

Padlet can be used to complement learning activities that require students to discuss ideas during or outside of class time, bring their own point of view, share content and show how they work through problems. The ability to capture, store and share this information in a variety of formats can help students reflect on the learning journey and provide lecturers with valuable qualitative information.

Padlet can be used for:

  • Socialising the classroom
  • Collaborative learning such as brainstorming
  • Peer learning
  • Collating or curating research and resources on a topic
  • Gauging learners understanding of a topic or concept
  • Reflexive activities – student’s perceptions, knowledge and attitude over time.

Padlet integrates with LEARN. UC has an institutional Padlet licence i.e. Padlet is available to all staff and students. If you would like access to Padlet contact Donna Thompson (donna.thompson@canterbury.ac.nz)

If you would like to know more about how Padlet can be used to enable student engagement and success contact a Flexible Learning Advisor (FLA). FLA contact details can be found at https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/library/support/e-learning-support/

New Services & Facilities for Learning and Teaching

360 Video Production Studio and Service
Construction of the 360 Video Production studio (located in the Oceania room L4 Puaka James Hight Library) is close to completion. The studio is operational and awaiting the installation of a green screen and new LED lighting. The studio consists of a main recording room, a control room, two editing rooms and an audio recording booth. The video production team also has a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone equipped with a high resolution video camera. The e-Learning teams Video Production Service is ideal for the creation of high quality video materials for the purposes of learning, teaching and research.

To access the video production service please lodge a service request on the Assyst self-service portal at https://assist.canterbury.ac.nz/selfservice/#serviceOfferings/127 (log in required) or contact a member of the e-Learning support team https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/library/support/e-learning-support/

Use the e-Learning support video Production team to create content for learning & teaching.

How could I use video in my teaching?

Now that you know about our new Technology Enabled Learning Facility (TELF) in Puaka – James Hight Rm 502, and its availability for creating pre-recorded teaching content, you might be asking yourself ‘How could I use video in my teaching?’


There are several advantages of incorporating video content into your teaching. By providing videoed content to students before they come to class, you could increase the flexibility in your face to face teaching time and include more active learning, where students engage with the content rather than being introduced to it. The increased flexibility provided by the use of video helps you to reach a wider audience, and supports your students’ learning by allowing them to re-watch recorded content whenever and wherever it suits needs. A range of media can be included in a video recording to represent concepts and information; text, sound, still and moving images. Videos which include active learning elements can recruit student interest and help to sustain their efforts, as well as supporting their learning. Using multiple means of representing concepts and information also facilitates learning for the predictable variability in our learners’ culture, learning preferences and learning needs (CAST, 2018).

Teaching video


As you are preparing your video it’s good to keep in mind the purpose for which you are creating it and to ensure that your use of video supports you in reaching your pedagogical goals (Hansch et al., 2015). Early in a course you might be using video to help build connection and rapport with your students; later you may be creating a recording to keep them motivated. Because of its multimedia capabilities, video is particularly good for telling engaging stories. Video can be used to share content distant in either time or place, through edited historical footage or virtual field trips. Demonstrations of unique events or visualisations which require manipulation of time and space (such as slow motion or a bird’s eye view) can be presented through video, as well as the juxtaposition of images to enable comparison or highlight contrast.

Finding the most appropriate style of video to accomplish your pedagogical goals is the next important step in using video in your teaching, and the topic of an upcoming blog post.


CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org

Hansch, A., Hillers, L., McConachie, K., Newman, C., Schildhauer, T., & Schmidt, J. (2015). Video and Online Learning: Critical Reflections and Findings from the Field. HIIG Discussion Paper Series No. 2015-02. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2577882

Technology Enabled Learning Facility (TELF)

The Technology Enabled Learning Facility (TELF) is a new service offered by the e-Learning team to support lecturers in the use of learning technologies. James Hight Room  502 has been equipped a lectern and other technologies typically found in UC teaching spaces.

With support of members of the e-learning team lecturers utilising this service are able:

  • Practise using and/or receive training in the use of the teaching technologies (lectern) found in UC teaching spaces.
  • Create teaching materials (video recordings, narrated PowerPoint presentations etc.).
  • Teach classes and conduct tutorials to students at a distance using web conferencing (Adobe Connect, Zoom).

If you wish to use this service contact a member of the e-learning Support team.

Technology Enabled Learning Facility

Flipped teaching and learning in a foundational engineering course

Ako project team
From left to right: Pinelopi Zaka , Dr Paul Docherty, Dr Wendy Fox-Turnbull

A collaboration between Dr Paul Docherty (School of Mechanical Engineering), Dr Wendy Fox-Turnbull (School of Teacher Education) and Pinelopi Zaka (e-Learning Support) provided research driven validation of flipped teaching strategy in foundational engineering. The flipped approach proved to be a successful pedagogical mechanism for this unique cohort of students and was well-received. The research was also successful and has yielded three conference submissions and three journal papers have been submitted. Details of the research outcomes can be seen on the Ako Aotearoa website https://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/projects/flipped-classroom-foundation-engineering.

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