eLearning Innovations and Partnerships in
Science and Engineering (eLIPSE)

Ensuring that students come to class prepared to learn is key to effective active learning strategies in large classes.  One way to achieve this is to assign pre-reading, and to require students to complete an assessed reading quiz beforehand.  Making this a concept-based, short-answer quiz (rather than multiple choice) requires students to engage effectively with the material.  One of the challenges is in marking these quizzes and providing useful feedback to large classes quickly.

How does it work?

Semant is an online system that greatly simplifies the implementation of effective active learning methodologies for large classes.  It permits teaching staff to easily analyse and mark the short answer quiz responses submitted in a Blackboard quiz or using other tools.  The tool allows staff to identify common themes in the written responses, to rapidly pinpoint concepts students struggle with and to provide feedback to large classes.  Selected de-identified student responses can be used in class to focus discussion around common misconceptions.   This significantly increases student engagement in the process.

Semant can accept data from sources other than Blackboard, e.g., Platypus (peer answers and feedback) and Uthink (peer chat assessment).  If Platypus is used for capture of student answers, Platypus can be used to facilitate peer assessment, with quick marking by teaching staff still conducted in Semant.

Project team/Contacts
Title First Name Last Name Affiliation Role in the project Contact
Professor Michael Drinkwater Faculty of Science /
School of Mathematics and Physics
Lead CI Stage 1

​+61 7 336 53276

Professor Matthew Davis School of Mathematics and Physics Lead CI Stage 2

​+61 7 334 69824

      eLIPSE Software development team elipse@eait.uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 68018
Project Status

The Stage 1 was completed for the commencement of Semester 2, 2016.  Development work has ensured sustainability over time and provided additional functionality.  Component and interface redesign has reduced marking time and increased the amount and timeliness of personalised feedback to students.  Stage 2 (peer assessment) was completed for the commencment of Semester 2, 2018.

Semant is used in courses with over 500 enrolments.


The following resources are available for users:

Technologies Used

Semant has been developed using PHP and JavaScript using MySQL database. To interact with Blackboard, Semant uses SemantSync, which has been written specifically for this purpose by UQ's Informaton Technology Services.  In order to use Semant with other tools, data needs to be in a specific format and the tool needs to be registered with Semant in order to export data.


This project is based on a UQ-developed prototype resulting from a collaboration between Professor Michael Drinkwater and Professor Matthew Davis and the UQ Centre for Educational Innovation and Technology (CEIT), now disestablished.   It was first used in PHYS1001 in 2011.

Stage 1 of the project was supported by UQ Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) strategic funding in 2015-2016, then by a Faculty of Science Teaching and Learning Grant in 2016.  Stage 2 development was funded by a UQ Teaching Innovation Grant (TIG) for 2017-2018.

The development of Platypus was funded by a 2014 TEL Grant, supplemented by seed funding from the Faculty of EAIT.