Friday, May 20, 2016

#Jisc E-Assessment Survey

This report is worth a look at , if only to reflect on the depressingly slow pace of e-assessment across the public education system in the UK .  I think when I was involved in setting up the UK E-Assessment Association in the early noughties we hoped things would move much faster.

What are the challenges

I know I am lumping schools , colleges , universities and some work-based learning all together here and that some systems particularly in workplace are going a lot faster !

1. It is hard to get system and teachers to move away from pencil and paper even for high stakes summative assessment and even where there is a strong evidence base that on-line makes the assessments both more accessible and more cost effective.  Education leaders are afraid of making decision and changing procedures too. There still appears to be a big digital literacy deficit among teachers and educational leaders.

2. Centres are still not geared up for e-assessment . Even though much of this can now be done across wifi and even on candidates own devices .  You don't always need to invest in a bespoke on-line test centre.

3. The awarding bodies - either have their own bespoke systems or are too tied in to systems and processes that require paper.  Much of the e-enablement has focused on embedding the current system. Scanning of candidates scripts for electronic marking rather than any attempt to move the whole assessment and verification systems on-line. Any candidate evidence should be on-line and remotely accessible by now . That includes evidence at centre level internal validation should be through images of candidates work.

4. An unwillingness to open up the question banks that do exist . There should be rafts of on-line apps and systems that allow learners lots of ways to develop their skills through formative assessments on-line,  based on items from the awarding bodies past papers. I am still looking for a free platform that can do maths , numeracy , digital literacy , communications - call it what you will core skills , functional skills , essential skills-  diagnostic testing .  Staff should not have to create lots of assessment instruments and items they should be available for  re-purposing.

5. A lack of flexibility and a belief that exam halls are always the answer.  In terms of assessment in the round there is a push back to high stakes testing and away from e-portfolios and continuous assessment - which is in my opinion pedagogically unsound . This a feature principally in English system.

Over the last 14 years the system has had lots of advice but still learners are more likely to encounter an on-line assessment in situations out with formal education than through an educational establishment. Even at level of institutions preparing learners for the real world , this is wrong.

If folks looked at some of the platforms that are already available and open  for example they would see that there are already very reliable ways to automatically mark even short answer questions. I've raised this example before . I think in Scotland we need someone to make an instance of this available on an open basis to support adoption of on-line learning and assessment across life long learning and out in to our communities.

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