We worked with our clients at Cambridge University Press on their new product, CE Assess, which was a delivery approach for assessment via their e-reader technology, Elevate. Our part of the project was split into two halves, Test & Assess and Assess to Progress.
We were looking to produce a visually integrated, yet functionally standalone widget structure, allowing assessment points from the e-books to be delivered seamlessly within Elevate from our separate web service.
The Test & Assess side of the project involved us co-ordinating the delivery of Learnosity based question templates, for both teachers and students, including providing a consistent user interface. Learnosity is a flexible web service based tool for the delivery of a whole range of assessment types. They provide web services around question authoring, delivery and reporting, and we needed to use all of these for our integration project. With all user data coming from the Elevate system, we were acting as the central point for delivery of assessment and reporting across the platforms, no mean feat!
The Assess to Progress side of the project required the same level of integration with Elevate for user/group management, with the delivery of a long-form assessment piece created entirely by us. The idea of Assess to Progress is to provide the ability for teachers and students to submit and manage long-form textual responses, with a clear, concise system for the provision of mark schemes. The system allows a student to understand the objectives of the work they are doing, then the teacher has a system to help them mark the student’s work, using a customised breakdown of the appropriate mark scheme, including the understanding of what constitutes different levels of achievement at a specific marking point. There is also a comprehensive feedback system allowing the teacher to help the student fully understand not only what they have achieved, but why they have achieved it. Coupled with annotated exemplar answers this is one of the most sophisticated systems available on the market.
Due to the collaborative nature of this project, we worked closely with CUP’s experts, Elevate’s developers Excelsoft and Learnosity’s support teams. We helped refine the requirements through our well-defined processes. We started the project with a review of the user stories already developed in a series of development workshops, and from this we whittled down the requirements to the key areas required. We then produced a series of wireframes which went through several iterations to ensure what we had planned met the requirements for the business.
Once wireframes were agreed, we produced a series of UI designs which again went through several rounds of iteration. The UI design was quite a complex process, as we needed to ensure the style fitted with CUP’s brand guidelines, Elevate design and Learnosity design, which didn’t always fit together naturally. We managed to come to a compromise that worked for everyone however.
For the development phase, we created a PHP (Zend Framework) based back-end to manage everything, with a custom front-end built on the bootstrap framework. This gave us a flexible and robust system which we could adapt for the changing needs of the project both initially and for future phases.
At the heart of all of this was our QA process. Our QA Lead joined the process at the wireframes stage, ensuring the he had full visibility over what was being produced to ensure it met all requirements, whether educational or technical. With his input throughout, we were able to ensure that any issues were identified early in the process, so they didn’t grow into anything bigger at a later stage.
This project proved to be a big success from both an educational and technical perspective. The system for Assess to Progress is truly unique in the UK education market and provides teachers and students with a strong method by which to understand not only the subject, but how to approach answering questions. Couple this with the powerful evidence based system through Test & Assess and this system has given a huge amount of power and flexibility to CUP’s assessment portfolio. The product is being used by many countries within the Press already and this only looks to be growing.