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News and updates – University of Reading

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  • Enabling a consistently good student assessment experience

  • Providing an improved, supported assessment experience for staff

  • Reducing the administrative burden of assessments

News and updates

Read our articles and updates to learn more about the EMA programme and its progress.

upcoming event: ema symposium (#REMA18)

symposiumWe are delighted to announce that the EMA programme is hosting a one-day EMA Symposium on online assessment for University of Reading colleagues on Tuesday 22nd May in the Meadow Suite at Park House.

The Symposium will gather together an exciting range of colleagues to share good practice surrounding electronic submission, feedback and grading, and the use of new assessment data, with both academic and non-academic staff. The day will be invaluable for sharing information and for passing on knowledge!

In the morning we’ll be looking at online marking for inexperienced users, a TEL led demonstration for new users, an open Q&A on assessment, disability and inclusivity, the use of marking tools for more advanced users, using new RISIS data to support pastoral care and making the very most of rubrics. In the afternoon we’ll be looking at dashboards and learning analytics, online assessment and the experience of support centres, change and impact in Early Adopter schools, how to get the most out of QuickMarks and a roundtable focused on policy, process, pedagogy and technology.

We’re focusing on both experienced colleagues as well as those who are completely new to this area and are unsure what online assessment and new data availability can deliver for either themselves or their students.

The event will run from 09:15 to 16:00 but colleagues can sign up for just the morning session (09:30 to 13:00 including lunch), the afternoon session (12:15 to 16:00 including lunch) or join us for the whole day!

The Symposium is fully catered with tea, coffee and a full vegetarian lunch (12:15-13:00).

Please note that, due to the size of the venues we are using, places are limited. We hope to see a packed house of interested University of Reading colleagues!

Please sign up via Employee Self Service. For the morning session click here, and for the afternoon

click here. If you wish to attend the full day, please sign up for both.

Attendees can also follow event news and contribute at #REMA18.

For further questions please contact Emma Mayhew ( or Maddi Davies ( We look forward to welcoming you on 22nd May!

upcoming event: ema online submission and marking introduction

roadshowThursday 26th April, The EMA programme will be hosting an EMA Online Submission and Marking Introduction session, from 12:30 to 13:30 in Carrington 201.

The key aims of the event are:

-To provide an opportunity for academics to hear about the ways in which the EMA Programme is enhancing Electronic Marking and Assessment within the University.

 -To give academics an opportunity to hear how this will impact them and hear from our Early Adopters that have already been through the transition.

-To give staff an opportunity to see examples of how the functionality of marking tools can help them.

-To provide an opportunity for staff to ask questions regarding the changes.

-To hear how processes within the support centres will change and provide greater clarity around roles and responsibilities.

You can book your place at the event via Employee Self Service, here.

We look forward to seeing you! 

making full use of grademark In Geography and Environmental Science: a case study by professor andrew Wade


13th March 2018, Today we present a new EMA case study by Professor Andrew Wade.

Online submission, feedback and grading has been adopted by a range of colleagues throughout Geography and Environmental Science. In this case study Professor Andrew Wade outlines his experiences as part of an Early Adopter School.

He explores the use of key marking tool features-Rubrics and QuickMarks-and how they have impacted on his marking experience.

Find out more about Andrew's experience.

E-SUBMISSION, marking and feedback: a case study by Pilar Gray-Carlos

pilar9th March 2018, Today we present a new EMA case study by Pilar Gray-Carlos.

Pilar is a Lecturer and Institution Wide Language Programme Coordinator for the International Study and Language Institute at Reading.

This case study provides an insight into the use of electronic submission and the exploration of e-marking and e-feedback for language projects within the Institution Wide Language Programme (IWLP). It provides a brief journey about the engagement in the adoption of electronic submission tools as a team whilst maintaining the identity of each language involved.

Find out more about Pilar's experience.

electronic feedback and grading methods: a case study by Dr Geoff Taggart

21st February 2018, Today we present a new EMA case study by DGeoffr Geoff Taggart.

Geoff is a lecturer in the Institute of Education, and Programme Director for the Early Years Practice programme at Reading.

As part of his secondment to the EMA programme, Geoff decided to run a case study with students from the IoE to gather perspectives on electronic feedback and grading methods.

Find out more about Geoff's experience.

the EMA programme: One year on...

EMA-logo-presentation8th February 2018, One year ago the Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) Programme secured full agreement to proceed. Significant progress has been made over the last 12 months and this update outlines what has been achieved and what colleagues can expect over the coming year.

You may also like to view the new screencast on the Resources page, which provides some visual examples of the new capabilities that are being introduced.

Read more about the EMA Programme one year on.

PRE-SESSIONAL ENGLISH USE OF GRADEMARK: A case study by Robert playfair

robplayfair6th February 2018, Today we present a new EMA Case Study by Robert Playfair.

On the pre-sessional English (PSE) course, in the summer of 2017, the course leader suggested that tutors chose between using e-feedback (Turnitin and Grademark), to mark students writing, or pen and paper. Rob chose to try e-feedback:

'I was interested in improving the efficiency of my marking, and liked the idea of having a digital record of written feedback to students'.

Find out more about Rob's experience

wider rollout: eSFG  briefing for School T&L leadership

24jan24th January 2018, The eSubmission, Feedback and Grading (eSFG) Work Stream ran a briefing today for all Teaching and Learning Deans, Heads of School and School Directors of Teaching and Learning.

The session was opened by Gavin Brooks, Pro Vice Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) before Emma Mayhew (Academic Director of EMA) discussed the aims of the Programme and broad range of programme deliverables. Adam Bailey (TEL Team) then explored some of the principles underpinning the eSFG work stream and the process that will be worked through with schools to support the wider adoption of online assessment, before Alan Howard (SDTL, SAGES) outlined their experiences as an Early Adopter School since the Summer of 2017. He highlighted some of the significant benefits felt by colleagues as well as a number of challenges and how the School has responded.

We then heard from Rebecca Harris (SDTL, IoE) who described their experience as a ‘Special Project School’ that has significantly increased the adoption of online marking and grading during the course of this academic year. Rebecca highlighted some of the pedagogical work undertaken focused on how best the School might use some of the new functionality available including rubrics and QuickMarks and how the change process has been used as an opportunity to start to rethink moderation processes. Marguerite Gascoine finished the session by reiterating the role of professional colleagues in the change process and some of the benefits felt within Early Adopter Schools. It was great to hear that the Early Adopters have overall had a very positive experience, in particular recognising the support they have received from the TEL team, the Support Centres and the EMA Programme.

The eSFG Work Stream will now meet with senior colleagues within each school to understand existing uptake and discipline specific needs.


21st January 2018,  In this new Case Study Dr Madeleine Davies outlines the use of Learning Journals and online marking tools on a Part 3 module in English Literature.

maddieThe discussion considers the relationship between this assessment format and improved student engagement, and reflects on the opportunities to 'personalise' online marking tools to produce an enhanced marking experience.

You can also visit our EMA 'Case Studies' page and learn about other colleagues experiences and research.

Find out more about Maddi's experience.


durham4th January 2018, Emma Mayhew (Academic Director, EMA) and Maria Papaefthimiou (Senior TEL Advisor) headed north this week to the Blackboard Users’ Conference at the University of Durham. This is one of the most popular events attracting a large number of learning technologists and some academic colleagues across the sector.

Emma and Maria presented to 65 colleagues in a session entitled ‘Small and Medium Go Large: Electronic Management of Assessment at the University of Reading’. This presentation outlined EMA adoption across the sector, key challenges faced by institutions moving from pocketed to institution wide online assessment practices and some of Reading’s own experiences from the PEAR Project to the EMA Programme, from pocketed adoption through to staged Early Adopters and fuller roll out. Some of the key messages outlined in this presentation seemed to be really thought provoking given the long queue of colleagues queuing up to ask Emma and Maria questions at the end of their session.

This conference also gave some colleagues within both the EMA and TEL Teams the opportunity to hear from a small number of other departments and institutions adopting online marking, feedback and grading including Aberdeen and Liverpool. We were able to share approaches to change design, communication, policy and process as well as technical challenges and opportunities over dinner in Durham Castle…a fantastic end to an hugely informative conference.

Go-Live: Sub Modular Marks 

5th December 2017, After 7 months of preparation, development and testing, the Core Systems workstream celebrated the go-live of sub modular marks for UG Modules with the first mark-entry training session for Programme Administrators.

SM MarksThe sessions, led by the Core Systems workstream, are being held throughout December, January and February in order to support Programme Administrators with the new mark entry processes in RISIS. Now that sub modular marks are in RISIS, the Core Systems team can continue the roll-out of a number of new screens for staff and students.

The student mark screen, which will be available on the RISIS portal, gives students access to an online summary of all summative assessment marks during the course of the year. Until now, students have only been given an overall mark for a module at the end of each year, but with this new screen they will also be able to see the breakdown of how the overall mark was achieved; this includes marks for essays, presentations, tests/quizzes, and exams. The new screen is expected to go live in late January.

(Listen) Electronic Submission, feedback and grading: An Interview with Lecturer Jonathan Smith

24th November 2017, Jonathan Smith is the School Director for Technology Enhanced Learning in ISLI. He is also a Pre-sessional English Course Director and Teacher of English.

JJonathanSmithonathan is a seasoned user of TurnItIn for electronic submission, feedback and grading. Listen to his chat with Academic Partner Pilar Gray-Carlos to find more about when he started, some of the difficulties he encountered as well as the benefits he found from using e-assessment and marking. You can also visit our EMA Case Studies page and learn about other colleagues experiences.

 Listen to the interview with Jonathan.


20th November 2017, Professor Will Hughes has extensively used rubric grids within Grademark across of all of his modules to significantly enhance student engagement with his feedback, student understanding of his marking criteria and student attainment in subsequent essays whilst making his own experience of marking more efficient.

Will HughesHere's what Will had to say about his case study: 'As convenor of a range of modules typically enrolling 120 students submitting around 3 pieces of work each year, I wanted to ensure that I had a really effective approach to marking and the provision of feedback'.

'I wanted all of my students to engage fully in the feedback I provided, to thoroughly understand exactly what they had done well and where they could be making improvements after reading each piece that I provided. But I needed to achieve all of this in an effective and efficient way'.

You can read about Will's case study using the link below.

Find out more about Will's experience.

Core systems team holds fourth breakfast briefing with programme administration colleagues

breakfastbriefing16thnov16th November 2017, The Core Systems Work Stream held a fourth breakfast briefing for all Programme Administrative colleagues today. Nearly 60 members of staff from across the institution were able to join us for breakfast cake and coffee to hear Kat Lee, Project Manager for the Core Systems Work Stream, outline progress during this enormously busy period.

Kat and team have been working hard to implement new functionality in RISIS. Supported by Programme Administrators and Exams colleagues, all final testing has been completed and we are now ready for the go-live of sub-modular marking in the last week of November, covering undergraduate modules. A ‘Turn Around Time Tracking’ screen for 15 day feedback and marks return is now live for undergraduate summative assessment and will be accessible to SDTLs via reports shortly. We are in the very final stages of creating the updated extenuating circumstances workflow, allowing students to submit ECFs online via RISIS much more easily. We are now using the RISIS helpdesk to manage support queries and provide FAQs, while continuing to provide training to Programme Administration colleagues.

Siobhan Crathern, Project Manager of the eSFG Work Stream, outlined progress in online submission, feedback and grading within Early Adopter schools and explored the impact of the 2018/2019 roll out on Administrative colleagues. Siobhan will be taking over from Kat as lead for the Core Systems Work Stream in January, looking holistically at the marking journey from Bb/Tii through to RISIS.

Demonstrating new RISIS screens at the School of Humanities and the School of Law

15th November 2017, Kat Lee, lead for the Core Systems Work Stream, and Emma Mayhew attended the Autumn term School of Law meeting and the Humanities School Board of Teaching and Learning. Emma ran through our new deliverables graphic, based on the JISC/Manchester Met assessment and feedback cycle. This shows how the EMA Programme is delivering at every stage of the cycle, from design through to specifyingsetting, marking, recording and reflection, improving the assessment experience of both staff and students throughout.

Kat outlined the timetable of key events marking our move towards improved sub modular mark availability. She demonstrated the new RISIS screens available for module convenors and personal tutors as well as some of the new assessment reporting capability, a significant step forward for the University in terms of our ability to understand the assessment landscape.

Emma and Kat’s updates prompted a series of questions, as well as excitement, from both schools covering a range of topics from data access to future developments in both assessment and broader learning analytics. Much more information about all of the Programme deliverables outlined at these presentations will be available on this site in the new few weeks!

EMA Graduate partners recruited

GraduatePartnerteam31st October 2017, Over the past three months the EMA programme has recruited three Graduate Partners, joining the team to provide vital student insight and champion the interests of the student body within all programme activity.

Working across each of the programme work-streams, the Graduate Partner team are dedicated to ensuring that EMA has an ever-present student voice, looking to gain informed perspectives from existing students at every opportunity, and contributing valuable insight from their own experiences as University of Reading students.

For more information on the EMA team, go to the ‘About the Programme’ tab.  Alternatively, if you have any questions for our Graduate Partners, please contact: 

Society for Research into Higher Education, Digital Network Event: Critical Learning Analytics - Alexandra Knox, Learning Analytics Workstream Manager

20th October 2017, Last Friday I attended a seminar day at the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE). This day was a great insight into the critical perspectives that researchers have into how learning analytics is being deployed across the UK. It was exceptionally reassuring to see that at Reading we may well have already mitigated a great many concerns simply by starting from the point of working out what the University of Reading needs in order to continuing providing excellent support for an ever-growing student body, and which of these needs can be met by using digital datasets, rather than simply attempting to keep up technologically and employing new IT solutions just because they are available. SRHE pic

There were papers from Dr Sue Timmins, Reader in Education at the University of Bristol, Dr Jeremy Knox, Lecturer in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh, and Mary Loftus, a PhD Candidate in Learning through Data from NUI Galway, and all three papers proved the basis for some extremely engaged and interesting discussions on the value of student data and how best to use it to support students' learning.

It was also very heartening to see that practitioners - that is, those who are engaged in implementing learning analytics rather than researching it, were also in attendance, keen to make sure that they address the potential pitfalls that Big Data solutions could easily bring if allowed. One key takeaway was the need to make sure that staff and students understood what was happening in between the creation of data and the visualisation of such data into graphs and charts that might indicate something about a student. This gets more and more complex as algorithms and machine learning come in to play, but it seems clear that the better the understanding of the process, the more useful the data-crunching results might actually be. Finding ways of making sure that students understand the limitations and possibilities of the visualised data they will be presented with on their learning journey will be a key part of the development of any learning analytics solution for the University of Reading.


EMA team promote student awareness at Freshers' Fayre 2017

21st September 2017, the EMA programme (supported by the TEL team) hosted a stall at the University of Reading Freshers’ Fayre 2017, in a bid to boost student awareness of the programme.

 Freshers fayreIn the mix with a host of other businesses and societies, from Dominos to Amazon Prime, the EMA team sought to take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to thousands of Reading students, attending the fayre either as returning candidates, or newcomers to the university.

Handing out promotional flyers, answering questions and signing up students (to offer feedback in future programme communications), the team was well represented across all three of the major stakeholder groups identified by the programme. Academic representation for EMA was ensured through the presence of Academic Partners Ed Collins (Agri-Food Economics & Social Science), Pilar Gray-Carlos (International Study & Language Institute) and Dr. Emma Mayhew (Academic Director for EMA


Programme), meanwhile the attendance of University Business Analyst Louise Blight invited professional staff perspectives, and student interests were championed by Graduate Partner Jack Lambert-Taylor.

Over the course of the day, a number of students signed up to be part of EMA’s ongoing student Engagement Strategy, whilst hundreds more were helped to understand the vision and scope of the programme.

All in all, the day was a great success, helping to raise awareness of EMA among the student body, and establishing a friendly and approachable identity for the programme. Building upon the good work of this event, the Supporting Change Work Stream will continue to work closely with the Marketing Communication and Engagement team at the University, in order to build further awareness about the programme, encourage routes through which students can input into Programme activity, and provide all students with important news and updates.

Outlining our EMA experiences so far at the University of Southampton

emma14th14th September 2017, Emma Mayhew headed south today to deliver two presentations at the ‘What works in Assessment and Feedback?’ conference at the University of Southampton. The conference, led by Carol Evans, explored all aspects of assessment and feedback practice across the sector.

Emma opened the conference as the keynote speaker exploring the use of screen capture and assessment literacy but in the afternoon, delivered a second paper exploring EMA. She outlined the changing patterns of EMA uptake across the sector, benefits for different stakeholder groups within Reading and key sector wide challenges of change management. Her talk prompted a range of questions and examples of best practice which were shared by audience members during the presentation and during the following coffee break.

As EMA becomes normalised within the sector, interest in key challenges and management of change processes is increasing. These kind of events allow all providers to share best practice.

EMA briefs cqsd team

emma12th12th September 2017, The EMA programme was invited to brief CQSD at their team meeting this morning to update colleagues on progress across all work streams.

We were able to outline ways in which we have been working closely with a whole range of colleagues including the TEL Team and Academic Developers.

It was great to be able to explore some of the areas of our activity that relate most closely with the CQSD Team and think more about some really great suggestions from colleagues.

webinar on Changes to risis to include sub modular assessment and marks

11th September 2017, From the Autumn term staff will have access to much more assessment information on RISIS to help them support their students. In the past, colleagues have normally only been able to access overall module marks for individual students and they have only been able to see these at the end of the year via tutor cards; often, Senior Tutors, SDTLs, personal tutors and module convenors have needed access to this information at an earlier point, before final module marks are made available.

Colleagues involved in undergraduate programmes, including personal tutors and module convenors, will be able to see information on the type and value of assessment their students are undertaking as well as marks for most individual pieces of assessment soon after they are made available to students. This is a significant expansion in the amount and the timeliness of the information available to us and it represents one of the first major deliverables of the EMA Programme.

Webinar17On Monday the 11th September the EMA programme held an online webinar to go through the new RISIS screens and describe what the changes would look like. The session was attended by both Academics and Professional Staff who engaged in questions and answers with the programme team. We would like to thank everyone who attended and provided feedback.

The Webinar is now ready to share with anyone who would like to watch the presentation, see the comments and feedback given or would like to recap what was said. This is a valuable resource which we would encourage people to use.

If you would like to access this webinar then please e-mail the EMA team at We will send you the URL and the password needed to access the recording.

Much more information about these improvements will be made available throughout the new term but should you have any questions at this point, please contact Emma Mayhew, Academic Director of the EMA Programme, on

Exploring EMA uptake across the sector at the ECPR Conference in Oslo


Emma in Oslo7th September 2017, Academic Director Emma Mayhew jumped on a plane from the ALT-C conference in Liverpool to the European Consortium for Political Research Conference in Oslo this week to present her latest paper on EMA uptake across the sector.


This piece is based on a landscape report written at the start of the EMA Programme in September 2016 for the EMA Programme Board intended to give senior management an overview of sector engagement. Now expanded and updated, Emma's presentation explored new data on uptake and key challenges identified by providers focusing on the complexities of major transformative change. She went on to identify how a number of institutions have been able to address key concerns while delivering across the entire assessment and feedback cycle leaving them in a sector leading position. Her article drew on a range of reports produced by JISC, e Heads of E-Learning Forum, institutional project reports and project blogs together with a series of interviews held with a range of providers.


The presentation received a very positive response from the panel discussant and prompted a series of questions both in the seminar room and afterwards surrounding the uptake of online assessment in different countries, particularly among American institutions, the functionality of the tools being used, the experience of academic colleagues using online assessment and the best approach to take to manage institutional change.


Emma hopes to build on these links ahead of a possible second ECPR paper in Hamburg in 2018.

Applications now open for up to two placement or graduate interns

5th September 2017, The EMA Programme is looking to appoint up to two full time programme support placement students or graduate interns. These positions are open to University of Reading students looking to undertake a paid placement year or University of Reading students graduating in 2017 looking to undertake a paid graduate internship.

The appointments will be on the basis of a 12-month, fixed term secondment to run from September 2017. Placement students or graduate interns will work within the EMA programme team to support successful change management and the realisation of programme objectives.

Full details of the Student Placement or Intern role can be found here: 

The closing date for applications is 18th September 2017.

Exploring Reading's Experience with EMA at the ALT-C Conference in Liverpool

5th September 2017, Earlier today Emma Mayhew, Academic Director of the EMA Programme, and Vicki Holmes, Head of Technology Enhanced Learning, jointly presented at ALT-C, one of the major conferences drawing together learning technologists across the sector.

They explored broader moves towards online assessment throughout HE over the last ten years, key underlying drivers and some of the challenges being addressed by providers.


Vicki outlined the development, significant achievements and lessons to be drawn from the University's experience within the PEAR project. She was then able to explore how the University moved from smaller to larger scale institutional change as the EMA Programme has developed in the last 12 months.

Emma outlined core EMA Programme objectives and explored ways in which EMA is impacting throughout the entire assessment and feedback cycle from specifying through to reflection. Drawing on Reading's experience as well as early programme research with institutions across the sector, Emma was then able to explore five core principles for successful EMA change management focusing around vision, justification, resourcing, communications and change planning.

The presentation prompted a broad range of questions from the audience and at least four further requests from other providers to speak to us in more detail as they start to design their own EMA change programmes.

This was a really fascinating panel for us both to be involved with in ALT-C and it was great to be able to run a joint presentation on EMA drawing on our combined experience and knowledge.

The EMA Programme has moved buildings

24th August 2017, You can know find us in Room 1 (Teaching Office) of Harborne Building (Biological Sciences). Please do pop in and say hello!

You can also continue to contact us by emailing

Core Systems Team Holds Second Breakfast Briefing with Programme Administration Colleagues

4th August 2017, The Core Systems Work Stream team held a second breakfast briefing for all Programme Administration colleagues today. Although room regulations prevented us actually providing any breakfast this time, around 50 colleagues came along to hear about developments surrounding sub modular assessment information and marks in RISIS.

Module marks are already entered into RISIS to allow us to calculate progression or degree classification but, from the new term, individual sub modular assessment details and the corresponding sub modular marks for UG modules will be recorded in RISIS. This means that students and academics will be able to see UG marks in RISIS across the majority of assessments/modules and they will be able to do this throughout the year, rather than waiting until the summer. Colleagues will also be able to see marks from previous years as we roll through the next few academic cycles, as well as expansion to PGT and Foundation modules.


Capturing sub modular marks on RISIS also allows us to start thinking about reporting possibilities such as the development of a feedback dashboard using assessment analytics.

If you would like a copy of the Breakfast Briefing presentation and notes, please email


This latest meeting follows on from a successful first breakfast briefing held on 9th June which attracted around 60 colleagues. The team will continue to hold breakfast briefings every six weeks as a means of updating all colleagues on the progress of the project, a chance to sense check ideas and discuss issues. In addition, a brief weekly email update on the project will be sent to Programme Administration colleagues outlining progress and what will be coming up the following week.

The EMA Programme: End of term review

28th July 2017, Six months on from formal agreement to proceed, Gavin Brooks, Pro Vice Chancellor (teaching and Learning), has issued a programme update summarising highlights and considerable progress to date. This update was issued to all staff via senior leaders and posted to the staff news site.

Please click here to access 


26TH July 2017,  The new eSFG work stream board met together for the first time today to start its role within the established governance structure of the programme.

Like all of our boards, this group will be reviewing the progress of the work stream against its budget, timeframe and scope. It will identify any necessary interventions, any blockers to progress and any issues which need to be escalated to the Programme Board. It will also provide guidance and advice to steer all activity within the work stream, to maintain alignment with programme objectives and to ensure effective, ongoing communication with all colleagues.

The eSFG group is chaired by Vicki Holmes, Head of Technology Enhanced Learning. The Board is made up of a range of professional staff and four Academic Representatives who were appointed following our call for expressions of interest last month. These are:










The Board will now meet each month to continue its review and advisory role with the next meeting arranged for 27th September


12th July 2017, Following the TEL Fest 'roadshow' drop in yesterday, the EMA team ran a 90 minute session this morning to update colleagues on the progress of the programme so far, across all work streams, as we enter our sixth month.

EMA talkCue another colourful graphic, drawing together some of the headline figures on progress, from 1 new sub-modular marks tutor screen all the way up to 5,400 individual assessment records created…and many in between.

We also reflected on the results of a small scale EMA questionnaire designed to explore perceptions of benefits and challenges, we considered key principles for successful EMA change, progress working with early EMA adopters and the hugely exciting new development within RISIS tutor screens. We were able to engage with some really key questions surrounding how EMA works alongside and the move towards increased assessment diversification. We also explored what data we should be sharing with students including a fascinating early discussion on whether the HE sector as a whole should provide students with data that allowed them to compare their performance with others in their cohort. This will be an enormously interesting conversation as we move forward.EMA Talk 3

We also managed to run a mini workshop in the final third of the session in which we asked participants to explore the marks journey at Reading. They used sticky notes against each stage of the journey to outline areas that work well and those which were more of a challenge.

Many thanks to the TEL team for organising our slot and many thanks to all the participants at TEL fest for their contribution and the great feedback we received!

The EMA team joins TEL FEST

11th July 2017, Members of the EMA team joined colleagues from a wide range of services and projects today at the hugely popular annual TEL Fest event organised by the TEL team.  

Today we created a stand at the lunchtime 'roadshow' event designed as a drop in session for colleagues to ask questions, view new developments across the University and discuss all things TEL over an informal lunch. 
TelFest2.2The EMA team were kept busy throughout by a continuous stream of colleagues keen to explore the programme, get an early preview of new RISIS screens and ask a broad range of questions surrounding early adopter schools, academic secondments, the availability of sub modular marks, training, the role of support centres and the development of the feedback dashboard.

We were also able to address much more specific questions from the management of dissertation marking, marking offline, the use of rubrics and QuickMarks. We were still answering questions 20 minutes after the end of the event.

This was a great opportunity for the team to update colleagues on the progress of the programme to date and answer really detailed questions from those who had not yet had a chance to engage with us. Very many thanks to the TEL team for organising such a successful event.

Electronic submission, grading and feedback (eSFG) - Early Adopters

7th JulEMA-logo-presentationy 2017, The electronic submission, grading and feedback (eSFG) work stream has been working closely with many colleagues, specifically those within the TEL teams and representatives from Support Centres, to plan the best approach to rolling eSFG out across the whole campus for all modules.

As such, it has been agreed that we will work with 2 Early Adopter schools for the 2017/18 academic year who will adopt updated processes, systems and support methods. In parallel we will also work on a number of special projects to resolve complex problems. Once this work is complete and lessons have been learnt, we will be planning a full roll out to allow all schools to move fully to eSFG from 2018/19 (barring specialist exceptions).

We have identified the first 2 early adopter's schools as, School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Sciences (SAGES) and Agriculture, Policy and Development (APD). In addition we will be partnering with Institute of Education (IoE) and Henley Business School (HBS) to work on special projects that focus on some of the more complex eSFG requirements.

There will be opportunities for other schools to contribute to these special projects over the course of the next academic year and we are grateful for the commitment already shown by the schools working closely with us.

Applications now open for three placement or graduate interns

EMA-logo-presentation23rd June 2017, The EMA Programme is looking to appoint up to three full time programme support placement students or graduate interns. These positions are open to University of Reading students looking to undertake a paid placement year or University of Reading students graduating in Summer 2017 looking to undertake a paid graduate internship.

The appointments will be on the basis of a 12-month, fixed term secondment to run from August 2017. Placement students or graduate interns will work within the EMA programme team to support successful change management and the realisation of programme objectives.

Full details of the Student Placement or Intern role can be found here

The closing date for applications is 9th July 2017.

Expressions of interest-Academic Partners to work within the EMA programme

EMA-logo-presentation16th June 2017, The Electronic Management of Assessment Programme is looking to appoint up to five 0.4 FTE Academic Partners from existing members of academic staff or academic development staff within the University of Reading.

The appointments will be on the basis of 12-month, fixed term secondments to run from August/September 2017. Appointment will be subject to receiving full agreement from relevant Head of School or Head of Function.

Academic Partners will work within the EMA team, across all its work streams, to support successful change management and the realisation of programme objectives.

Full details of the Academic Partner role can be found here:

The closing date for applications is Thursday 29th June.

Exploring EMA at the BISA conference in Brighton

15th June 2017 Academic Director, Emma Mayhew, attended the annual British International Studies Association conference held in Brighton this week. She drew on the early research that she has untaken as part of the EMA programme to present a paper entitled 'EMA: Objectives, Obstacles, Opportunities and 5 key principles for successful EMA change management'.


The paper was informed by semi structured interviews with colleagues from ten institutions undertaking or who have already completed major EMA programme together with relevant major project reports. She has also been able to draw on research undertaken within Reading including discussion groups and the recent EMA survey completed by nearly 90 colleagues so far.


Emma outlined the extent of EMA adoption across the sector, commonly cited objectives and five broad areas of challenge including change management and technical aspects of EMA. She went on to explore the broad range of identifiable benefits for academic staff, non-academic staff and for students with a significant emphasis on pedagogical benefits throughout the entire assessment and feedback cycle. Emma finished by drawing this content, derived from sector experience, together with established project management literature to set out five core principles of EMA change management success-vision, justification, communication, resource and planning.


The paper prompted a fascinating discussion amongst the audience who shared their own experiences of EMA development within a variety of different institutions identifying examples of both good and more challenging practice.

This is the start of a series of conferences held over the summer which provide an opportunity for Emma to present and generate further feedback on key areas of EMA adoption across the sector these will, in turn, help to inform specific areas of programme development.


07th June 2017, As part of the development of the EMA programme, and within the context of the programme engagement strategy and governance structure, the EMA team is now looking to identify colleagues within the academic community who would be interested in joining one of three work stream boards to support the work of the programme and represent the needs of the academic community at a detailed level. These work streams are Supporting Change for EMA, eSFG (online submission, feedback and grading) and Core Systems. Each work stream will include four academic representatives.

These roles will be undertaken within the normal workload and are likely to require a minimal time commitment of around one day per month. These roles do not carry any buy out or additional remuneration and do require full agreement from the relevant Head of Department or Head of School.

Further information on EMA work stream boards, including a role descriptions for academic members can be accessed using the link below.

    Role Description EMA WSB Rep

    If one of the roles is of interest we would be grateful if you could send an e-mail to by noon on Tuesday 20th June outlining which work stream you would like to be involved with and why.

    Please note that, in addition to the work stream positions outlined above, we will be advertising a number of separate secondment opportunities for academic colleagues shortly. Details are to follow.

    If you have any questions about these opportunities please do contact Emma Mayhew, Academic Director, at

    Exploring EMA with each discipline area

    26th May 2017 The EMA Team have been engaging in a range of ways with the academic community over the last few months from large scale events in the Meadow Suite, presentations to numerous Schools Boards of T&L, school meetings, departmental meetings, individual meetings with each SDTL, many DTLs and other colleagues. This is only the start of our engagement programme! It's enormously important that the team engage in meaningful and visible engagement and active participation with academic colleagues across a broad range of areas, throughout the course of the programme, so that we can:

    • Understand the range of attitudes and expectations among the academic community towards online assessment as well as other programme outputs like the staff/student feedback dashboard
    • Understand the requirements amongst different types of stakeholder and across all disciplines
    • Maximise the effectiveness and quality of all programme outputs
    • Successfully support transition over the longer term
    • Ensure that the programme is able to embed and sustain all work stream outputs
    • Respond to a clear demand for engagement from academic colleagues
    • Ensure sufficient balance in terms of stakeholder representation within the EMA team

    EMA is a programme that is being developed 'with' academic colleagues rather than 'to' academic colleagues.

    EmmaPresentationSo very many thanks go to all the School who have invited Emma, the EMA Academic Director, to present and explore key issues with large groups of colleagues in the last few weeks including HBS, IWLP, the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Science, the School of Literature and Languages and the Institute of Education (twice). We've been able to look at key issues including programme timescales, impact on staff and students, academic and student engagement strategies, the new functionality of marking software, with particular interest in the use of rubrics, current policy provision and health and safety issues.

    These meetings have fed directly into our thinking within the programme and, as we have explored each area, we have been updating our Q&A page on this site.

    If you would like Emma to come along to a group session, please e-mail us at

    ADDITION TO THE EMA TEAM -Phillippa osgerby-bishop

    Phillippa16 May 2017 - Phillippa Osgerby-Bishop joined the EMA team in March and her work as Data Co-ordinator will be focused on the Core Systems Work stream. Phillippa's previous role at the University of Reading was in the Financial Systems Team as a Systems Administrator for e Commerce and Financial Systems.

    Her role as EMA Data Co-ordinator will involve the collection, collation and set-up of assessment records for 2017/18 academic year in RISIS as a first step in the sub modular mark implementation work.

    10th Jisc Learning Analytics Network Meeting - Alexandra Knox

    3rd May 2017 - I flew to Glasgow to attend the 10th Learning Analytics Network meeting at the University of Strathclyde, a forum for catching up on the progress of Jisc's Learning Analytics Research and Design Project and hearing from practitioners. The project is working on developing a basic Learning Analytics solution including a data warehouse, as well as resources to help universities begin to apply Learning Analytics at their institutions, such as an app to track student engagement.


    It was a beautiful sunny day in Glasgow and the meeting was packed, indeed over-subscribed. The main takeaway for my first visit to this series of meetings was that every university has different issues and is thinking about deploying Learning Analytics to tackle very different institutional needs. A presentation from Patrick Lynch from the University of Hull looked at the need to understand what you need Learning Analytics for prior to implementation. The focus at Hull is on learning design and curriculum improvement. This highlighted the importance of the approach we're taking to Learning Analytics at Reading, focusing on establishing the requirements for student support that Learning Analytics could help with before potential pilots or implementation. There was also a very clear consensus on the major difficulties, with getting reliable attendance data being one of the biggest hurdles for most universities involved with the project.

    Niall Sclater, Jisc Learning Analytics consultant, has written an excellent summary of the day on the Jisc blog, complete with links to download the slides and to view videos of each presentation. You can find the blog post here:

    It is well worth having a look at the Jisc Learning Analytics blog if you are interested in the possibilities, especially with the discipline being relatively new for UK universities. Progress and research is unfolding now, and it will be exciting to see what approach Reading could take.


    3rd May 2017 - 68 colleagues attended the EMA overview event on Wednesday. This event was identical to the launch event run by the EMA team back on 14th March which was full to capacity. We knew that a whole range of colleagues were unable to attend at that time so repeated the entire session (and, once again, provided a large tray of EMA cakes!)

    Cupcakes 2nd eventGavin Brooks, PVC (Teaching and Learning) opened the session by outlining how the programme aims to deliver the University's long-term vision for online assessment and provide a significantly improved experience for staff and students. He was followed by the EMA Academic Director, Emma Mayhew, who then led the session with a summary of the programme and an overview of the EMA website.


    Half of the time available was set aside for the team to answer a broad range of questions and hear suggestions from colleagues. Once again we were mindful of the need to hear the voice of everyone in the room so we created another 'Menti' board allowing everyone with a laptop or phone to post questions which appeared live on the screens in front of us. In this way we managed to address a range of queries during the session. We will be adding new questions and answers to our expanded Q&A section of the website shortly and this includes all of those questions posted on the Menti board that we did not have time to address on the day.


    This time we also asked all the attendees to fill out a short questionnaire as we continue to try to understand how both academic and non-academic staff see the programme and, in particular, some of the key benefits to be derived but also some of their concerns that they might have. This information will be really useful for us to continue to think about some of these issues and how we communicate our response moving forward.


    The questionnaire will now be used more broadly at EMA events and we will make it accessible online shortly. We will be reporting our survey findings over the Summer.
    Colleague unable to come to this event can view a pre-recorded five-minute summary of Emma's EMA overview presentation. Please go to the EMA screencast in the 'Resources' section of this site.
    If you have any further questions regarding the event or general questions relating to the EMA programme please do get in contact with us at

    Sharing experiences of online assessment at the HEA Assessment Symposium in York

    13th April 2017-This Spring the HEA has been running a series of Assessment Symposia designed to bring together colleagues across the sector who are engaged in small and large scale change in assessment and feedback practice. Academic Director, Emma Mayhew, presented at the first event on Assessment Literacy in March but also attended the second session on technology enabled and electronically managed assessment in April along with Head of TEL, Vicki Holmes (pictured below).

    VickiVicki gave a fascinating presentation, based on her experience of the PEAR project, focused on the difficulties of large scale institutional change. She particularly focused on the complexity of disciplinary difference, issues surrounding the need for consistency and flexibility and how this may conflict in terms of policy and practice. We also heard from colleagues at Manchester Met, Bournemouth, Leeds, Northumbria, Kingston and Liverpool Hope on a broad range of issues surrounding technology enhanced learning in addition to several examples of large scale EMA type programmes.

    All of this fed into and enhanced the work we did right at the start of the project, captured in our landscape review, our ongoing work to understand where the sector is moving and, crucially, what lessons can be learnt from other institutions at a relatively early stage of our own programme. Although a long and intensive day (including a 5:15 am start on a cold and damp platform in Hampshire!) it was very much worth it for the quality of the presentations and the openness in which colleagues shared their own institutional experience

    Exploring student engagement in feedback at the University of Surrey

    University of Surrey12 April 2017 - Recently we've been exploring again one of our most interesting topics-how the EMA programme can maximise student engagement with feedback. We have been prompted, in part, by the recent publication of the HEA's 'Developing Engagement with Feedback Toolkit' and a recent symposium on assessment literacy at the HEA in York.

    We also noted that a question surrounding EMA and student engagement was the first to be asked at our launch event in March. Last Friday Emma visited the University of Surrey to explore student engagement with Naomi Winstone, co-author of the recent HEA engagement toolkit to explore her how work, and the broader literature, might inform our thinking on student engagement throughout the assessment lifecycle. This was a fascinating meeting which focused, in particular, on the development of the new student feedback dashboard at Reading, how we might starting thinking about design, how we could be involving students throughout the process and, crucially, what content we might like to include.

    More broadly, we are thinking very carefully about some of the key barriers identified in the HEA Tooklit- a lack of understanding in terms of the feedback itself, lack of cognisance in terms of how to act in response to the feedback and a lack of sufficient willingness to undertake action. We're exploring much more of the existing literature on how to design the end to end assessment process in order to maximise student engagement but, in the meantime many of the case studies on the resource page start to offer some immediate idea to colleagues to enhance existing provision.


    Alex Knox29 March 2017 - I am the Project Manager for the Learning Analytics workstream, which sits under the umbrella of the EMA programme and is exploring the potential for the use of Learning Analytics at the University of Reading. Learning Analytics is the collection and analysis of a range of data relating to student engagement and attainment from systems such as Blackboard, RISIS, the University Library and IT systems. The data can then be presented to relevant staff and potentially students to show a real time holistic picture of student engagement and progress, but it can also be used, amongst other things, to enhance our overall understanding of attainment and help develop methods to improve retention rates. Learning Analytics could help the University understand student learning and the contexts in which it takes place so that individualised, early intervention support can take place.

    My background is in archaeological project management and research, and I have held a range of roles at the University of Reading which leave me well-placed to explore the potential for the deployment of Learning Analytics to support our students. I have spent over ten years at Reading as a student, a post-doc, a sessional lecturer, a project manager and a programme administrator, all positions where I have been interacting with, managing and producing the kind of data that could be invaluable in supporting our students with their learning journeys and wellbeing.

    The project is supported by the Office for Fair Access and I am working closely with Dr Paddy Woodman, the Director of Student Success and Engagement. It is important to make sure that the exploratory work into the potential for Learning Analytics at Reading is aligned with the aims of the University's Access Agreement and actively supports the University's on-going work helping students of all backgrounds achieve their potential. This exploratory phase will produce recommendations regarding how Learning Analytics might be implemented at the University of Reading, indicating what kind of IT, staff training, data management/protection and student support would be required for its successful deployment.

    EMA launches to a full house

    14 March 2017 - 100 colleagues attended the EMA launch event on Tuesday. This was the full capacity of the Meadow Suite!

    March Conference

    Gavin Brooks, PVC (Teaching and Learning) opened the event outlining the importance of the Programme and how it fits into the broader University strategy. Academic Director, Emma Mayhew, then led attendees through an overview of the programme and a tour of the new EMA website.

    The team then took a less conventional approach to the question and answer section of the launch. We took live questions from the floor covering a broad range of topics from student engagement in feedback, increased screen time, the impact on administrative colleagues and the use of audio feedback. But we also invited everyone to post any comments or questions they liked onto an online board, run by These immediately appeared on a rolling screen in front of us (click to enlarge): 

We took this approach because, despite the number of attendees, the programme team was very keen to hear all voices. We certainly couldn't get through all of the 40 questions posed by colleagues on the  Menti board in the time available but we will be able to add all of them to the FAQs section of the website.

Cake and card at March event

Colleagues who were not able to attend the EMA launch may like to note that we will be holding a second, identical EMA event in the Meadow Suite on 3rd May 12-1. If you would like to attend please do e-mail 

To view a pre-recorded five-minute summary of Emma's EMA overview presentation, please go to the EMA screencast in the Resources section of this site.   

EMA and Assessment Literacy

8th March 2017- This week we have continued to gather case study examples across campus to explore how colleagues are making use of some of the new features available to them using online marking. One of these cases involves a really innovative approach to Quickmarks in English Literature. Mary Morrissey wanted to ensure that students were making full use of the Department's excellent writing guide which explores a broad range of key essay writing skills, underpinning student's understanding of essay writing and adding to their assessment literacy. This was exactly the theme picked up mid-week when Emma presented at the HEA Assessment Literacy Symposia in York. Her paper focused on the use of screen capture to disseminate core assessment information to students. These screencasts, alongside those made by Study Advice or content within the Academic Integrity toolkit can also be linked using Quickmarks. This highlights a key point. When we start using online assessment, we don't want to just replicate paper based processes. We want to be able to make full use of additional features, like Quickmarks, that are suddenly available to us. If we can do this, we find new ways of supporting student learning.

EMA Team speaks at the staff forum

21 February 2017 - The EMA team was invited to speak at the termly meeting of the Staff Forum this week. The EMA programme will touch almost everyone within the University, including professional staff, so we were very keen to talk to the Forum, a group specifically designed to represent colleagues up to grade 5 and to discuss issues impacting work life.

The impact of EMA on work life is reflected in our core vision statements, which outlines how EMA will improve the assessment experience for staff and reduce the administrative burden of assessment for all. These are some of the themes that we outlined in our presentation to the group of around 20 colleagues. These were also themes which were explored in the follow on period of discussion and feedback.

We were particularly happy that members of the Forum responded so positively to the core systems work stream within the EMA programme which is looking to integrate RISIS and Blackboard allowing a seamless grade journey between the two. Getting RISIS and Blackboard to talk to each other will clearly have a significant impact on the day to day work of many colleagues! We also enjoyed the broader discussion on stakeholder engagement, EMA governance and opportunities for colleagues to become more formally involved.

We would like to thank the Chair of the Staff Forum for allowing us to present and to take away some really valuable feedback on the direction of the programme so far.

Planning continues for the EMA launch event

18 February 2017 - Now that the programme has secured agreement to move forward we are especially keen to engage in meaningful engagement with all stakeholders. Although we meet with key groups on a regular basis we really want to hear from as many colleagues as possible. In order to start to achieve this we are organising a programme launch event. This will be held on 14 March in the Meadow Suite, Park House, from 12pm to 1pm.

The EMA Team will take this opportunity to outline how the programme aims to deliver the University's long term vision for online assessment and provide a significantly improved experience for staff and students. There will be opportunity to ask questions and input into the programme as it moves forward.

A largely vegetarian lunch, and cakes, will be provided!

To register please contact

EMA and TEL Teams run planning workshop

10 February 2017 - On 9 February the EMA Team joined together with the TEL Team to run a full day planning workshop. This was very much focused on our second work stream-online submission, grading and feedback (eSFG).

We started the day with a very ambitious agenda but did manage to explore a really broad range of areas from project approach, core project principles, the provision of support and training, moving towards a solution-what that might look like and who will take ownership-as well as discussions surrounding policy and process.

We all came away with a far better understanding of all aspects of the eSFG project but also with plenty to reflect on, particularly surrounding the complexity of managing change in this area.

EMA secures agreement to proceed

23 January 2017 - After a full week of presentations to UEB, UBTL and the Strategy and Finance Committee and the distribution of a range of programme documentation, EMA has secured full agreement to proceed. Building on the excellent work already undertaken by colleagues in this area we will now move forward with our three core objectives:

  1. Enabling a consistently good student assessment experience
  2. Providing an improved and supported assessment experience for staff
  3. Reducing the administrative burden of assessment for the University

This is a really complex, transformative programme but one that does have the potential to place Reading in a sector leading position in areas of assessment provision. The University has set aside around £7.5 million for this three-year business programme which will support our continued move towards online submission, marking and feedback of assessed work, underlying integration between our core systems-Blackboard and RISIS, the creation of a student feedback dashboard and support further development in our approach toward learning analytics.

This is an enormously exciting time for the programme team as we move away from feasibility into the programme initiation stage and beyond.

EMA at the Blackboard Users Conference, University of Durham

6 January 2017 - On 5 and 6 January, Kat Lee and Emma Mayhew headed up to a cold and wet Durham to attend the 17th Durham Blackboard Users Conference along with members of Reading's TEL team. The theme of the conference this year was "Ticked Off-Towards Better Assessment and Feedback". A broad range of papers were on offer across the two days focusing on the use of technology to improve the end to end assessment process.

Of particular note for us were several presentations exploring the impact of bespoke student feedback dashboards and ongoing discussion surrounding the integration of core systems like Blackboard and RISIS. Emma's contribution was a half hour presentation entitled "Goodbye Text, Hello Visual Learning: Using Screen Capture to Enhance the Student Assessment Journey" on the ways that many of us at Reading use screen capture in a wide variety of ways including the provision of feedback, study support and increasing student's assessment literacy.

We weren't talking to the usual academic audience. These were almost entirely highly skilled technical delegates so we shouldn't have been surprised when Andy Turner from the TEL team told us that Emma's paper was getting a lot of attention on Twitter!  

The TEL and IT communities within the HE sector are keen to share their experiences and learn from good practice demonstrated elsewhere. This meant that both Kat and Emma found the conference enormously useful and enjoyable, not least because the conference dinner, an important networking opportunity, was held in the grandeur of Durham castle.  

The EMA Team hope to be back in Durham in January 2018 presenting on the experiences of Reading which will, by then, be completing one year of the EMA Programme.

​Getting inspired again! The EMA Programme Team heads to Sheffield Hallam

12 December 2016 - Just before Christmas the EMA programme team headed north to visit colleagues at Sheffield Hallam University. We were really interested to explore the Assessment Journey Programme with the team leading this major institutional change.

Now in its third year Sheffield's programme has adopted a broader approach than the proposed scope of Reading's EMA yet has a very strong focus on all aspects of online submission, marking and feedback.

We enjoyed an extremely productive afternoon meeting with a wide range of team members as we ran through the long list of questions we had sent ahead of our arrival! From programme drivers, baseline positions, project vision, timelines and success criteria through to communications strategy, staff and student engagement, policy change, core systems integration and much, much more.

Among many of the take home points was confirmation of our existing approach to communications, even better understanding of the experience of other institutions in terms of core systems integration (in our case issues surrounding Blackboard communicating with RISIS), increased understanding of some of the challenges that other providers have seen, how they've responded and the benefits that have been realised.

The whole EMA team would like to thank everyone at Sheffield Hallam, particularly Project Manager Jon Childs, for the time, enthusiasm, openness and, of course, the wide variety of cakes which kept us well fueled throughout the day!

For more information on the Assessment Journey Programme run by Sheffield Hallam, please read their blog.

Getting Inspired! Collecting case studies around campus

4 December 2016 - It has been great this week to start meeting colleagues who have worked with online submission, marking and feedback over the last few years.

We've been exploring drivers for adopting online marking and some of the opportunities this has presented. We've looked at new and sometimes unexpected benefits as well as challenges, how these have been met and how colleague might move forward in the future.

It has been really valuable to spend time exploring the real world experiences of others, in some detail. This reminds us again of some of the disciplinary differences and specific pedagogical needs across campus as well as similarities that we share across the academic community. It has been particularly interesting to reflect more on how lecturers and students have included non-written content like graphs and formula in submissions, how colleagues have started to make their own QuickMark comments in GradeMark and the even changes in patterns of student engagement with online feedback compared to feedback on hard copy assessment.

Very many thanks to colleagues within both the Department of Economics and the IFP (International Foundation Programme) for spending time exploring their experiences with me this week. Do look out for these upcoming case studies on our Resources page!

Pictured: Dr Dawn Clarke (IFP and Department of Politics) discussing her experiences with us this week.


Sharing the journey: EMA presents at the TEL Practitioner Forum

23 November 2016 - Thanks to the TEL team, EMA was allocated a slot in the Technology Enhanced Learning Practitioner Forum termly meeting today. This group is made up of invited members, all experienced in TEL practice, and who act as an advisory group on TEL development within Reading. EMA is still in feasibility stage but we were able to outline a proposed programme vision and work through the themes that the team have been exploring.

Much of the work that EMA has done so far has been focused on updating the university community but as we move out of the feasibility stage over the next few weeks and months we'll be shifting this focus very much more towards meaningful engagement with a whole range of groups including academics, professional staff and students. It's really important that we ensure that the all of these voices are heard and directly feed into our thinking as we reflect on and develop all aspects of the programme in the coming months.

Coordination, Consultation and Cake: EMA's first joint workshop on Assessment Principles

19 November 2016 - On Wednesday 18 colleagues kindly participated in the first joint workshop looking at Reading's Assessment Principles.

Although EMA provided the food, this was very much a joint workshop being led and facilitated by myself from the EMA Programme, Deb Heighes from the Assessment and Feedback Project and Nina Brooke from the Curriculum Framework Project.

For us, thinking more about the pedagogy behind the assessment and curriculum aspects of our projects was important. Reading's existing principles were very much the starting point but, given that they may have been written nearly fifteen years ago and, given changes to the assessment and feedback landscape during this time, we felt the time was right to review and expand ... with the help of EMA and Assessment Principles themed cake!

Each of the four groups at the workshop worked fantastically well producing their own draft principles. This involved a lot of cutting, gluing, crossing out, reordering and even the rejection of a bullet point list in favour of a 3D pyramid construct from one enthusiastic corner of the room.

Deb, Nina and Emma are currently reviewing all of this valuable work as we move towards a single draft set of principles which we can then distribute for wider engagement. We are also thinking about the brilliant brainstorming session at the end of the workshop focused on dissemination and incorporation into module and programme design. We would really like to thank everyone who took part in the three- hour workshop for their time, energy and enthusiasm!

EMA starts to travel! First programme summary talk with University Teaching Fellows

18 November 2016 - Although EMA is still in the feasibility stage, and does not yet have final approval for the full programme of work, we seized the opportunity to talk to the University Teaching Fellows at our termly meeting a few days ago. Emma was able to talk through the kind of areas that we've been looking at within the potential programme scope. 

It's tempting to see the EMA Programme as being focused on electronic submission, feedback and grading (eSFG). This aspect is really important but we think this slide suggests that the programme could adopt a much broader and deeper scope.

We've been thinking a lot about the kind of core systems integration that underlies eSFG including how we handle sub module marks. We've also been thinking about some of the data management and data handling issues surrounding the programme. Neither of these might be very visible aspects of the programme for academic colleagues or the student community but are vitally important.

We've also been looking at some really new and exciting ways of presenting assessment information for both staff and students as well as using assessment analytics and, more broadly, learning analytics. We've spent a lot of time looking elsewhere in the HE sector as well as internally in terms of what we can already do and how we might like to move forward in the future.

We'll be presenting again at the TEL Practitioner Forum next week and at numerous other events as we move into the New Year.

Everything you need to know about EMA's first 10 weeks!

18 November 2016 - Ten weeks ago the EMA Programme began with just two team members, three enormous mind maps, a four-hour meeting in a purple pod in Carrington, hundreds of ideas and an even greater amount of enthusiasm.

Now two team members have become four, mind maps have become a project brief, one four-hour meeting launched nearly seventy meetings across campus and beyond, hundreds of ideas have been funnelled into an 83-slide programme outline, full communications plan, 6,000-word landscape review and much, much more. Enthusiasm has grown and grown.

We're still in "feasibility" stage as we wait for our final, detailed programme of work to be fully authorised. We've made great progress in this intense programme design phase and can't wait to start sharing our vision, ideas and discoveries in far more detail as we start an ongoing and widespread process of meaningful engagement with colleagues and students. Do look out for the EMA team, much more programme information - and our EMA themed cakes - across campus!

Pictured: One of three large mind maps created at the start of the project!

Welcome to the new EMA Programme News pages!

5 November 2016 - The new EMA Team has created this news section so that everyone within the University community can find out more about the programme and be involved in its development.

We will be outlining some of the areas of work that we have been looking at in more depth so that we offer a sense of what this programme might mean for academic colleagues, professional staff and students in different discipline areas and a sense of the really exciting, innovative opportunities that the programme could enable.

Throughout all of this, it is so important that we engage in meaningful engagement with colleagues.

This news section gives us the opportunity to continuously update the community, address all incoming questions via the FAQs pages and invite colleagues to join us in a range of workshops and presentations outlined on our events pages.

The EMA programme is still in the early stages of development but if colleagues do have any questions or comments at all please do send these to

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Jonathan Smith

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