The red pen is still the favoured instrument of university markers although not necessarily because it is the best tool for the job. But if Professor Stephen Colbran has his way, it will soon follow the slate, ink well and quill pen into the pages of history to be replaced by electronic workflows for assessing students, storing their results and presenting examples of their work in e-portfolios.
Prof. Colbran is the architect of an innovative piece of software called ReMarksPDF now being rolled out by universities and schools keen to bring the same sort of support to the learning environment as has been deployed in administration and other areas of education.
Using a desktop or tablet computer and ushering in electronic workflows, ReMarksPDF promises enhanced quality assurance, record keeping and feedback for students.
ReMarksPDF runs on both PC and Mac computers and is available in English (UK, USA), French and Modern Chinese. Trial versions can be downloaded from www.remarkspdf.com.
Because electronic assessment workflows are yet to be widely implemented in universities most papers, assignments or projects are still marked by hand. Prof. Colbran says more often than not markers still use a red pen or pencil to mark student assessments. The marked assessment is either handed back to students, leaving the marker with inadequate records, or kept by the marker leaving the student with little but their mark.
Used to create criteria, rubrics, stamps, auto text, audio, video, colour coding, drag and drop self-populating charts and other common feedback to be shared by markers, ReMarksPDF promises to dramatically change this situation. The software also has very advanced moderation capabilities to assist with quality assurance.
ReMarksPDF is in production and being trialed at Griffith University and the University of Western Sydney. Additionally many academics and teachers from secondary schools have downloaded the software. The software has been very positively received because it fills a void in the current learning management systems (LMS) and offers exciting new forms of feedback.
ReMarksPDF was conceived by Prof. Colbran, a professor of law and one time senior academic administrator of Armidale’s University of New England (UNE) in NSW.
While the academic sector has significant interest in software, Prof Colbran said he chose not to engage university software engineers. Commercial efficiency and specialist expertise helped him decide in favour of software development company Mitrais Australia to manage the development of the project following an extensive assessment. Mitrais had earlier added similar functionality to Word.
Nevertheless the universities are involved as ReMarksPDF is rolled out and integrated with the Blackboard LMS used by University of Western Sydney and Queensland’s Griffith University, as well as with the University of New England, which uses the Moodle 2.0 LMS.
Mitrais was established in 2000 to achieve excellence in software development. As a Microsoft Gold Certified developer, an Oracle Gold Partner and with certified products in SAP NetWeaver it is a major provider of application development services to the Australian IT industry. With offices in Sydney, Bali, Jakarta, Bandung and Singapore, Mitrais has more than 100 clients and employs more than 300 staff. For further information visit www.mitrais.com
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