Electronic Management of Assessment

What is EMA?

The term electronic management of assessment (EMA) refers to the way that technology can be used 'across the assessment lifecycle to support the electronic submission of assignments as well as marking and feedback'. (JISC EMA Guide ). The terms "online submission" and "online marking" are also commonly used:

  • online submission is the process by which a student submits work online for storage and retrieval by academic, administrative or other staff for marking, feedback or review. This can also include originality checking to help identify plagiarism using Turnitin.
  • online marking is the process by which staff provide marks and feedback to students online, which can include online annotations eg using Blackboard inline grading, annotated files eg using comments in Microsoft Word, audio, video, or the use of online forms. 

Benefits of EMA

EMA offers a range of benefits for students and staff which have been summarised in JISC's EMA guide. In Autumn 2017 the DEO, in partnership with BILT, interviewed staff who have adopted online marking and feedback, and gathered feedback from students who have experienced it. The benefits they identified were grouped into three main areas: convenience, clarity and consistency. 

Listen to extracts from the interviews and find out more.

Staff - how to start using EMA

Follow our instructions on getting started with EMA.

Tools and approaches for online marking and feedback

There is currently no single tool which supports all EMA requirements, so workflows are available using Blackboard and Turnitin Feedback Studio.  Each of these tools has pros and cons depending on requirements. For guidance on supported and recommended marking workflows see EMA guides.  If you are considering using online marking please contact the Digital Education Office, who will be able to provide advice on the most appropriate tool. 

Approaches for providing feedback

  • Provide digital feedback files e.g. standard feedback forms in Word format.
  • Annotate work, for example using comments in Word or Adobe Reader. Upload annotated assignments back into Blackboard.
  • Fill in an online feedback form (rubric), available in both Blackboard and Turnitin. 
  • Create audio or video/screencast feedback, and make this available to students via Blackboard. See our video guide and case studies on providing audio and video feedback.
  • Annotate work directly in Blackboard or Turnitin.

Health and safety

If you are marking or administering marking online please see the Safety and Health services workplace guidance on using display screen equipment.

The University of York has some useful guidance about reading on screen.

10 steps to introducing EMA

The DEO has developed a 10 steps model for introducing EMA in a School.

  1. Initial contact between School and Digital Education Office (DEO)
  2. Scoping meeting to establish overall aims, key people, roles and responsibilities and timescales
  3. Review of current practice: to make sure DEO has a clear understanding of what happens at the moment, what is essential and what could be improved or changed
  4. Create workflow: check requirements, map these to a workflow, create a prototype for staff to try out, adjust if necessary, and finalise
  5. Training and production of support materials
  6. Set-up (with ongoing support from DEO)
  7. First submission date (with ongoing support from DEO)
  8. Marking and moderation (with ongoing support from DEO)
  9. Evaluation: what went well, what could be improved next time
  10. Adjustment of workflow: liaison between School and DEO to implement changes for next iteration if required

EMA Project

The Digital Education Office (DEO) has been supporting the use of technology to manage submission, marking and feedback for a number of years. To support the institutional focus on assessment for learning and to help staff optimise their delivery of high quality assessment and feedback, from 2017-18 the Digital Education Office will offer all Schools dedicated support to move to EMA.  The deployment of EMA workflows across the institution will be undertaken over three years, from 2017 to 2020. More information can be found on the EMA project page.


The DEO can offer training for administrative staff and markers.  Contact the DEO to discuss your requirements.