Last week I spent two days attending and presenting at the E-Assessment in Practice Conference held at the UK Defence Academy Shrivenham. A few things jumped out.
MCQ ( multiple choice questions) Mainly in corporate space but now reaching down to most levels of employee, organisations around the world use on-line MCQ tests as a means of hiring, firing and auditing staff understanding of procedures ( compliance). Success at interview could be based on your personality profile and in some tightly regulated environments redundancy looms for those who cannot pass six monthly tests around procedures and product knowledge. For all the science and ingenuity that these systems have - I have seen this coming for a wee while, I am uncomfortable with the methodology and practices used here ( for instance American Real Estate Agents are traditionally tightly assessed in this way , go figure ! ) - but teachers and learners do need to know these are the standard employer practices that lie ahead.
Advances in on-line test generation and feedback systems for Maths , Physics and Engineering . Two or three systems were presented that allow both the automatic creation of mathematical problems and the automation of feedback to learners. These systems are really clever and feedback from learners does seem positive. These systems do seem very soulless but then I suppose this may be in keeping with the cold rationale of Science. They are designed to give learners almost limitless practice with computer generated feedback in areas like differentiation, algebra and calculus where undergraduates struggle. My question in this perhaps unfairly would be around the quality of the teaching input. Some of these systems look like closed loops that allow researchers to get on with research while undergraduates communicate with computers - but this may be unjustified cynicism.
Finally a few things sit better with my universe. Sarah De Freitas did an excellent presentation in developments in Serious Gaming worth looking out for Nano-mission, Flood Sim and the mind control offered by NeuroSky . The QCA presented some good guidance on on-line assessment available from the efutures website and the Open University showcased amazing work around language teaching and assessment http://www.webcef.org/.
And as final footnote of the innovative offerings present from BTL , Tag Learning , OpenSim and others perhaps with exception of NeuroSky we are working out on the frontiers with them.