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Tools for Online Interoperable Assessment final report


This report provides a summary of the JISC-funded TOIA (Technologies for Online Interoperable Assessment) project which ran from 2002 until June 2 007. The project was based at the University of Strathclyde, with a number of other institutions contributing to the project’s development. Formative and summative assessments are key component s of learning. Consequent ly the development of new approaches to assessment, facilitated by informat ion technology, offer opportunities to enhance the student learning experience in a cost-effective way. In 2002, when the Technologies for Online Interoperable Assessment (TOIA) was originally commissioned by JISC, there was a serious lack of quality and timely feedback available to FE and HE students in the UK, as was pointed out by many of the HEFCE subjec t review summary documents published at the time. The processes of a) presenting a question or problem to the learner; b) obtaining a response from them via the computer; c) evaluating this response; d) providing a mark, and e) responding to the learner with feedback, all required the provision of reliable system s. With few exceptions (most notably QuestionMark with their Perception system) there was a lack of softw are systems able to provide such functionality. This was due, in part, to the lack of an agreed format in which to exchange questions and tests. With the release of the IMS Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) specification in 2002, developers started implementing systems which allowed assessment cont ent creators and users to sh are data in a platform- independent format. At that time JISC commissioned the University of Strathcl yde to develop the TOIA (Technologies for Online Interoperable Assessment) system as part of the Exchange for Learning (4XL) programme. Details of the X4L programme can be found at URL: The main objective of the TOIA projec t was to provide a facility to allow the UK post-16 sector to investigate the benefits of computer-aided assessment, with no init ial investment required on the part of the user. The TOIA assessment software was developed in conjuncti on with a commercial company Freedom2 Learn (a joint venture between Excelsoft Technologies and Dynamic Distance Learning). By outsourcing the software development the project was able to bring a product to the sector much more rapidly than would have been achieved by starting a development from scratch.

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