Leading Online Assessment Efforts in Universiti Malaya

Farrah Dina YUSOP
Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Farrah reflects on the process of getting faculty colleagues at Universiti Malaya (UM) ready to develop and initiate online assessments, including the challenges and lessons learnt. Farrah was a panelist for the GRO-CDTL Regional Webinar Series on topics such as assessment and providing teaching and learning support during challenging times.

Photo courtesy of Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels

As the Director of Universiti Malaya’s (UM) Academic Enhancement and Leadership Development Centre (ADeC), my Centre was entrusted with preparing academic staff for the conversion of UM’s courses from blended to fully online learning mode when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Malaysia seriously in March 2020. Although online teaching was not totally unfamiliar to our academics, we found facilitating our faculty colleagues to change their readily prepared summative face-to-face assessment to summative online assessment to be the most challenging aspect of the process.

After about two months of facilitating the smooth transition to fully online mode—both on pedagogical and technological aspects—we were left with only two months to prepare faculty colleagues for online assessment. We quickly learned that such a huge change required thoughtful planning and consideration in its implementation.

  • First, the concept of online assessment was still unfamiliar to many faculty colleagues, because previously most assessments were conducted face-to-face. We had to get the buy-in from them first, especially in ensuring that necessary measures are put in to minimise cheating and plagiarism for online assessments.
  • Once our faculty colleagues were convinced that they had some control over the reliability of the online assessment, we then focused on providing them one-to-one online clinics on how to use the online assessment features in our newly-upgraded learning management system, SPeCTRUM. The clinic turned out to be the most important aspect in our facilitation process. The academics truly appreciated the human aspect of the process, that is, the opportunity to literally talk to and discuss matters with others. In addition, we were lucky to get support from others within UM, including academics who were willing to be clinic advisors as well as support from the university’s Information Technology Center (PTM), who worked hand-in-hand with our team at ADeC in ensuring that the system was ready and operated smoothly.
File photo (taken prior to the COVID-19 outbreak) courtesy of New Straits Times

Just to highlight that, at that time, all our faculty colleagues (and students) were working remotely as the country was on Movement Control Order (MCO). Our Centre, too, was operating totally online, running a series of webinars and providing support to almost 2,000 academics.

Even when the MCO was later adjusted to a Conditional MCO (CMCO) where most government offices, including ours, started to re-open, our Centre and PTM continued to provide online as well as offline support to academics.

Implementation

Reflecting on these experiences, there are three important things to consider when implementing a wide transformation plan such as this:

  • First, if we cultivate awareness and instil confidence among faculty colleagues, behavioral change will follow.
  • Second, humanising the process of transition and transformation is as important as digitising it, because we as humans will always love to celebrate the human aspect in ourselves.
  • Finally, any transformation plan will not succeed without the concerted efforts, as well as the hearts and souls of the people behind it, which in this case, comprise faculty colleagues and staff from within and outside of the Centre. Their dedication and ideas are always treasured and truly appreciated.

 

Farrah Dina YUSOP is the Director of the Universiti Malaya’s Academic Enhancement and Leadership Development Centre (ADeC), a Centre dedicated to enhancing the professional development of the University’s academic staff. Farrah’s research interests include the design and development of technology-enhanced teaching and learning solutions to improve people’s personal and professional development.

Farrah can be reached at farah@um.edu.my.