In the ever-evolving landscape of education, technology is playing an increasingly pivotal role, particularly in the realm of assessment and standardised testing. The ongoing debate surrounding the effectiveness and fairness of traditional testing methods has spurred educational institutions to explore innovative alternatives, with IT taking centre stage in this transformative journey. One of the things we learned from the Covid-19 pandemic is that we can work remotely and still be productive, and while the debate continues as to whether or not flexible working and schooling should be the norm, if there’s one thing for sure we have proven, it is that using a computer for school work is more efficient, productive, and doesn’t mean students are going to Google all the answers.
Back when I was at school, if someone had suggested using computers for exams the idea would have been laughed out of the building with a chorus of “No one would learn anything! They’ll be too distracted on social media!” or, “Everyone will just look up the answers!”
While these are valid concerns—because, let’s face it, at the time, we would have absolutely looked up all the answers and got distracted on social media—it’s easy to forget how far technology has come and been specifically designed to make our lives easier, not harder. Below, we have outlined some points highlighting the effectiveness of using IT in an assessment environment, and how these previous concerns are a thing of the past.
Consider a university transitioning from time-consuming paper-based exams to a cutting-edge online assessment platform. With support, they implement a secure digital testing system that not only enhances flexibility but also boasts features like randomised questions and automated grading, significantly improving assessment efficiency and reducing errors.
Another crucial facet is data security and compliance. A school, reeling from a security breach, collaborates with IT specialists to establish rigorous data security protocols and ensure adherence to privacy regulations like FERPA and GDPR. This fortified data security not only safeguards sensitive student information but also bolsters trust among parents and guardians.
In times of peak assessment periods, scalability is paramount. It can be a concern that in times of a potentially nationwide standardised testing programme facing a surge in demand, we could experience lagging or system crashes. However, designing and implementing a scalable cloud infrastructure that seamlessly accommodates a high volume of concurrent users, ensures a disruption-free testing experience for students.
The concern of cheating in online exams is addressed through remote proctoring solutions powered by AI and facial recognition technology, maintaining the integrity of assessments. Meanwhile, the analysis of assessment data by IT experts empowers educators to make informed decisions about curriculum improvements and identify students who may need additional support, as exemplified in a high school scenario.
Adaptive learning platforms, personalised education, and accessibility features are reshaping how students learn and demonstrate their knowledge. These tools, such as ePortfolios, video submissions, and peer assessments, are seamlessly integrated into the learning management system (LMS) or assessment platform, creating a holistic and practical assessment experience.
To ensure inclusivity, a school leverages technology to implement accessibility features like screen readers and keyboard navigation, making assessments accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. Integration with LMS streamlines workflows, real-time technical support minimises disruptions, and robust data backup and disaster recovery solutions safeguard assessment data.
Finally, reinforcing security with multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO) solutions fortifies the protection of student data. IT innovations are reshaping education assessments, making them not only secure and efficient but also more inclusive and technologically advanced than ever before. As educators and IT professionals collaborate, the future of education is taking shape, promising accessibility and excellence for all learners.