Moving toward paperless assessment

My faculty and I have run a School to Work assessment task over the past few years where students apply for fictional jobs as real world practice for when they have to look for real world work. Application letters, resumes and real interviews form the components of the task.

The Task

Up to now, the students submit their task on paper. With the advent of the Digital Education Revolution laptops, we decided to transform the work that the students did from fully paper based to as paperless as we could manage.

We had to consider what would make the task “work” for the students, and what would be relatively simple to mark electronically. We had a Moodle platform to deploy from, but had found that the students needed more developlment in its use before it could be reliably used.

We decided to use Adobe portfolios to create a “kit” that would contain the resources needed by the students to complete the task. The kit was to include templates of application letters and resumes that the students could draft their own from, and then submit the final product to their teacher. The templates included PDF’s , and “Live Forms” created with Adobe Acrobat Pro 9 Extended or Adobe LiveCycle, Rich Text and Word documents.

The “kit” was deployed via the NSW Department of Education & Training (DET) internal email system. Every student in our Yr10 cohort received an email from me with the kit as an attachment. They then downloaded the kit to the hard drive of their DER laptop.

The students then had class time and time at home to produce the application letter and resume. They were then submitted by the due date to their class teacher, using the DET email system.


Marking and feedback will be completed electronically using features in  Adobe Acrobat that include sticky notes. This document will be returned to the students, and they will add it to a digital porfolio they are compiling for their final assessment.

While we have to overcome hurdles in making this work, including staff familiarity with software and general tech competence as well as  student upskilling with  unfamiliar software, the encouraging aspects are that staff see the exercise as a worthwhile use of the new laptop resources. Student enthusiasm for e-assessment has not always been as obvious, but the genuine support of the staff has seen some shift in this attitude.


The due date for the task was today. We worried that the number of submissions about 3 days out from the due date was very low. However, on the due date, we estimated we had around 80 -90% of students submit their tasks. This is probably a combination of factors – the consistency of “message” that the deadline had to be met (reinforced by all staff), along with the expectation that all submissions were to be electronic. We accepted paper submissions (for equity reasons), but the non electronic submission rate was pleasingly low.

Link to the Portfolio is here (you will need Adobe Acrobat 9 Extended Pro to fully appreciate the effect)

I want to acknowledge the pride I have for my faculty in undertaking this potentially risky venture – their support and willingness to try something new has been awesome. Thank You!

The caveat with sharing a resource like this is that some people will find the task less than perfect, but we think we are progressing toward making more of our assessment material paperless. And I like that thought.

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4 thoughts on “Moving toward paperless assessment”

  1. “The “kit” was deployed via the NSW Department of Education & Training (DET) internal email system. Every student in our Yr10 cohort received an email from me with the kit as an attachment. They then downloaded the kit to the hard drive of their DER laptop”

    This is where you could use EDMODO to get students to access the Document… then it is their responsibility to download it. It would also provide them with a space for discussion.

    I don’t know if this would work for your faculty, but it works really well for me!

    • Jess,
      Thanks for your comment, and suggestion.
      We have a Moodle site set up to do the deploying, but its use for this type of thing is ad hoc and experimental at the moment. Once our school members understand the potential, then it will be the prefered deployment tool.

      • I like it. We teach the same unit as this but has been more teacher directed where as this lets them work through and learn as they go. One question though about your interview process – how do you do it and when do you do it? During class time, free periods …?

        • Thanks for the comment Jay. As far as our interviews go, we use an entire day (with around 150 Year 10s, at 15 minutes per interview, we need it). Our Careers Advisor has built an awesome network of local business people and around 30 of them come in and play the boss in our mock interviews. The Year 10 students have a modified attendance for the day and only attend their interview. The interview day is coming up later this term.


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