Assessing Design Innovation - The e-scape project 20 years on

On the eve of the UK election there is a lot of talk of 'change'. Recent publications for the Labour Party (Creating Growth: Labour's Plan for Arts, Culture and the Creative Industries) and the Design Council (A Blueprint for Renewal in Design and Technology Education) have focused in on the challenges and opportunities that change might bring in one particular area of education.

E-scape: A 2004 project ahead of its time

Reading around the current conversations the RM Compare team were reminded of similar efforts that took place in 2004 under a project called e-scape. The comprehensive Wiki page gives a detailed overview and links to associated research. The Teacher Toolkit site also completed an excellent review.

Project E-scape was titled 'Assessing Design Innovation' and sought to developed an approach to assessment in design and technology that encouraged creativity and teamwork. Phase 1 of the project looked at the use of digital peripheral tools with a particular focus on the potential of digital portfolios. Phase 2 built on this work to consider assessment through the use of Adaptive Comparative Judgement.

At the time there were 2 limitations identified from the first 2 phases

  1. It operated only in design and technology, and this raised the question of its transferable value into other subjects.
  2. The assessment process was not felt to be scalable as it was felt that a national system would need to be operable by teachers in their own classrooms

Phase 3 attempted to address these issues by transferring the initial learning into geography and science, and also seeking to empower teachers to manage the ACJ system.

The final report from Phase 3 can be viewed here.

Innovative assessment

The e-scape project was one of the earliest to recognise the potential that Adaptive Comparative Judgement provided to liberate assessment, curriculum and pedagogy from existing constraints. The lessons learnt were formative in the early development of RM Compare.

2004 - a different world

Looking back, the e-scape project was remarkably ambitious given the technology available at the time. Things look very different today:

2024 - is now the time?

If elected the Labour Party has committed to "Urgently commission a full, expert-led review of curriculum and assessment that will seek to deliver a curriculum which is rich and broad, inclusive and innovative". It has also said it will "Ensure that one of the non-EBacc subjects included in pupil’s Progress 8 should be a creative or vocational subject".

Technological advances might encourage us to revisit the lessons learnt in e-scape and pick some of them up to support the 'change' narrative proposed. The advances in our understanding of Adaptive Comparative Judgement could be a clear catalyst for change.