the e-Assessment Association

Technical Issues in eAssessment – High Stakes

In this blog post I am going to assume that you have little or no experience in delivering High-Stakes eAssessment and are reading this because you want to be assured that it is the path to take that will open up wider opportunities to learners and help your organisation meet its compliance needs more easily.

Well, what can go wrong?

Anything is possible, and some of it does happen in practice, although thankfully, very rarely these days. But when things do go wrong, it is how the problems are dealt with that are make or break as far as the overall e-assessment service is concerned.

The main things that go wrong are:

  • the wrong test, scheduling issue
  • the wrong student, registration issue
  • the computer breaks, loss of results
  • the internet crashes, loss of results
  • ambiguous questions, confusion in appeals
  • the printer doesn’t work – for certificate, post processing issue
  • the scanner doesn’t work – for signatures, post processing issue

Failures are rare but tend to be high-profile when they happen in high-stakes exams. The problems tend to be compounded when the staff at the exam centre aren’t confident or familiar with what they are doing. In fact many problems occur without the computer going wrong at all – just the operator not knowing what precisely they are to do, or how to do it.

The key…

You perhaps won’t be surprised therefore to hear that communication is the key! Here are the following things that can be communicated more clearly to the candidates prior to undertaking a test:

  • Who is responsible for the test on the day?
  • What test are they doing?
  • When is the final due date?
  • Where is it being held?
  • Why is their ID information important?
  • How are they going to do it?

Support, support, support

Good support is essential. Most High-Stakes eAssessment technology suppliers provide an “in test” support function, so that the support staff at the centre, who are monitoring tests, can spot any issues as they are happening and can either reset or support the invigilator to manage the candidate’s results process.

Assessment engines should have built-in security and Internet crash detection, and be able to offer the invigilator the opportunity to print a paper test if required.

The main things you should do are:

  • Log everything you possibly can
  • Setup simple processes for appeals and automatic checking of near misses.
  • Choose a provider that can help you through.

Winning brings huge benefits, and no sleepless nights.

Linda Steedman, CEO, eCom Scotland

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