Sparking a Light: Supporting Interactive Online Assessments

During the early stages of the pivot to online assessments, an ASCILITE seminar led by Griffith University, Australia, introduced the Teaching Enhancement Unit (TEU) to interactive oral assessments. As designing robust assessments that could quality assure students’ learning was a key priority during the transition to online assessment, this seminar sparked a light. 

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

It led to early discussions, and ultimately a collaboration between DCU TEU and Griffith University to pilot interactive oral assessments in DCU. This collaboration quickly became a Community of Practice (CoP) where a small group of DCU academics across all five faculties began using interactive oral assessments as a viable alternative to traditional assessments. The CoP changes over each semester, with some new recruits, some past members dipping in and out, and some staying throughout the three semesters this CoP and pilot has been running. 

Interactive orals are an authentic assessment approach that effectively helps prepare students for employment, and when used as part of strategically designed integrated assessment, promotes academic integrity. This short 2 minute video provides a quick introduction to the approach through the voices of both DCU students and academics involved in the initiative.

A TEU Interactive Oral User Guide is also available to support academics wishing to use this approach. The DCU CoP are at an advanced stage of a research article to share experiences… watch this space.

An exciting enhancement to the DCU Interactive Oral CoP is a shared Interactive Oral CoP with Griffith University and Charles Sturt University in Australia. The first meeting was held on 24th November 2021, hosted by the TEU. At a two-hour meeting, over twenty academics (8 from DCU) presented vignettes of their use of interactive oral across all disciplines. This shared CoP will continue to meet twice a year to collaborate and share experience and research in this space.

If you would like any more information on this initiative or are interested in joining the CoP, please email

Celebrating Student Excellence: Reflect Eportfolio Showcase and Awards

Yesterday, April 8th, 2021, the Teaching Enhancement Unit (TEU) at DCU hosted the annual Eportfolio Student Showcase and Awards event.

These annual awards have been an integral event of the eportfolio intiative in DCU since its launch in 2016. The Showcase is a celebration of student excellence in eportfolio practice and all students from programmes using the Reflect learning portfolio (based on the Mahara platform) were invited to enter. Students could submit an eportfolio developed for a module during 2020/2021 or develop one specifically for the Showcase. 

The DCU eportfolio eterns ran a social media campaign to promote the event and this, as well as the increasing numbers of DCU students now using Reflect to support alternative and authentic assessment, resulted in a 33% increase in entrants over the previous year.  

A panel of judges reviewed submissions based on the following criteria:

  • Effective showcase of knowledge/skills/attributes through relevant argument and artefacts
  • Level of reflection
  • Design and originality

The judging panel was impressed this year with the excellent standard of entries from all Faculties and the increased use of rich media to showcase students’ knowledge and skills. The digital skills of students were evident in the use of embedded images and videos, clean navigation, and the degree of creativity and personalisation. Judges comments included:

 “Very engaging for reader; great mix and use of artefacts to express learning; comprehensive reflections”, “very informative, using different types of media, creatively presented, “evidence of learning and growth through reflection”. 

These comments speak to the authentic representation of learning; allowing students connect their learning, to reflect on their learning, and to intentionally engage with their learning as it is happening (Rhodes, 2018). 

A snapshot of all submitted entries can be viewed in this video carousel…

Ten students were shortlisted for the top prizes. Billy Kelly, Dean of Teaching & Learning, recognised these students for their excellent work and virtually presented the awards in front of faculty and peers. 

The overall winner was Chelsea Thompson, who developed her eportfolio as part of the requirements for the Bachelor of Education programme in DCU’s Institute of Education. The judges agreed that this was an all-round excellent eportfolio which surpassed the competition criteria.

Laura Furlong, also from the Institute of Education, Ore Jalaade, DCU Business School, and Lucyann Kehoe, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences were also recognised for their rich and innovative eportfolios.

We would like to thank all of the students who submitted entries and look forward to seeing even more creative and critically reflective examples of Loop Reflect over the next year. We would also like to acknowledge our colleague Lisa Donaldson who organised the showcase event and leads the use of and support for Loop Reflect within and across DCU.


Rhodes, T. (2018). Lift every voice: ePortfolios for creating and integratingInternational Journal of ePortfolio8(2), 87-89.