Vocat was first conceived, developed and deployed at Baruch College’s Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute during the 2006-07 academic year. Originally imagined as a means of assessing student growth in Baruch’s Communication Intensive Courses (CICs) as well as the overall effectiveness of the CIC program, the Video Oral Communication Assessment Tool (VOCAT) was designed to help faculty gauge improvement in students’ speaking abilities from the beginning to the end of a semester. Built by Cast Iron Coding of Portland, Oregon in the open source TYPO3 platform, Vocat saw heavy use at Baruch especially in introductory theater courses (THE1041C) and in Speech Communication (COMM 1010). Over the next several years, Vocat became increasingly popular with instructors interested in teaching with video recordings of student performance. It offered an easy, user-friendly means of providing qualitative and quantitative feedback on student work and was quickly adopted in a wide range of courses across Baruch’s undergraduate curriculum, including accountancy, finance, composition, and business communication courses. The original version of Vocat was used by over 20,000 Baruch students in 40 distinct courses between launch and the full redevelopment of the tool in 2013. With generous funding from Baruch’s Zicklin School of Business and alumnus Walter Barandiaran (BBA, 1979), Vocat 3.0 was developed in 2013 and piloted at Baruch and other CUNY campuses in Spring 2014. Among a host of new features and powerful APIs that allow Vocat to communicate with other applications, the new version addressed a number of important issues around scalability. In 2014 oversight of Vocat development and curricular integration moved to Baruch’s newly launched Center for Teaching and Learning, and in Summer 2014 a stable version of the tool was released. The successful launch of Vocat 3.0 helped Baruch secure additional funding from Mr. Barandiaran in 2014, and development is ongoing.
The Vocat Team
Luke Waltzer, Teaching and Learning Center, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Project Director.
Craig Stone, Center for Teaching and Learning, Baruch College, Project Manager.
Anderson Evans, Center for Teaching and Learning, Baruch College, Project Coordinator.
Mikhail Gershovich, Project Advisor, Development and Sharing.
A Fully Featured Vocat
The release of Vocat 3.0 addressed several barriers to scaling that existed in earlier versions of the tool, and also laid the groundwork for additional phases of development. In Vocat 2.0, all videos were transcoded locally and then transferred individually to the server before being associated with a student, all rubrics were created by administrators, and all data had to be manually extracted from the database. This severely limited the number of courses that could be supported within the tool. Vocat 3.0 eases each of these processes considerably via an extensible web application accessible through modern browsers.
Video Uploading and Transcoding
Users may upload videos directly to Vocat alone or in bulk, where they are transcoded and returned to the application for interaction in a teaching and learning environment within moments.
Videos can be easily annotated at specific points in a video by typing in the annotation field while viewing the video. All annotations scroll during video playback and are exportable as text files.
Rubric Generator and Library
A robust rubric generation tool and dynamic rubric library allows evaluators to create, clone, modify, and share rubrics with other members of their organization, facilitating institutional dialogue about assessment best practices.
Peer and Self Evaluations
Vocat allows evaluators and peers to enter qualitative and quantitative assessments, but can also facilitate peer evaluations. The tool keys all feedback to its author, which can lead to valuable, dialogic assessment processes.
Course and Assignment Data Visualizations
Vocat offers clickable charts that can filter and visualize existing assessment data at the course and assignment level, and also allows the export of data in txt, csv, and json formats.
Every submission has attached to it a comments section where evaluators, creators, and peers can enter into extended conversation about the artifact being assessed, the scores that were given, and what work needs to be done next.
Vocat will connect to prominent Course Management Systems such as Blackboard and Canvas through the Learning Tools Interoperability standard.
Mobile Client Development
Vocat users will be able to record, upload, and assess submissions with clients built specifically for mobile phones and tablets.
Multiple Document Types
Vocat will allow users to load, annotate, and assess images, audio, and text documents with the same level of precision as they currently can work with video.
Vocat will soon integrate with WordPress/BuddyPress instances, allowing users to surface and curate artifacts and assessments in a powerful portfolio setting.
The Baruch College Center for Teaching and Learning was founded in 2013 to enhance faculty and student development opportunities at Baruch College, to manage and develop the college’s homegrown educational technology platforms (Vocat and Blogs@Baruch), and to help shape the college’s strategy for hybrid and online courses. The CTL works closely with Baruch’s other academic service units, and fosters collaboration by members of the Baruch College community with other campuses through participation in various CUNY-wide initiatives
Cast Iron Coding, the development and design team behind Vocat, has been building powerful, elegant web and mobile sites and applications since 2003. We are thinkers, coders and collaborators who stay ahead of rapidly changing technologies while still sweating the details. We love what we do, we stand by our clients, and we’re proud of the work we create.
If you like what you see in Vocat and want to learn more about Cast Iron Coding’s services, don’t hesitate to get in touch.