the e-Assessment Association

Working together for transformation in assessment, by RM

Working together for transformation in assessment, by RM

Working together for transformation in assessment

By Roberto Hortal, Head of Innovation – Technology, RM

It all started with the ongoing pursuit to ensure students receive fair grades after their years of effort. The e-assessment community worldwide joined educational and awarding organisations, teachers, examiners, regulators, legislators, parents, employers and others in a cross-functional global race to introduce the right solution for each local, regional, national and cultural circumstance. There were some bumps along the way, but we have certainly made progress, learning and iterating along the way, continuously improving solutions for the thousands of dedicated people keeping education going everywhere.

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting assessment delivery worldwide, many awarding organisations and educational institutions accelerated their digital transformation plans in order to continue to deliver fair, valid and reliable assessments and qualification awarding.

The aspiration of e-assessment

A brilliant thing about transformational e-assessment is that it should remove barriers for those who want access to it. E-assessment has the potential to reach and engage students and teachers wherever they may be. It can be adapted to the needs of each individual user and, better yet, be designed up-front to be fully accessible to all. Every player must be vigilant against creating new barriers leading to a digital divide. Deliberate design and considerate planning should secure a new present in which e-assessment finally enables all bright minds everywhere to shine.

The ability for us working in e-assessment to truly transform assessment as we know it, in order to enrich the lives of learners worldwide, is at the heart of our reason for being at RM. We are proud, therefore, to sponsor the e-Assessment Award for Best Transformational Project again in 2021, reflecting some excellent examples of how the e-assessment community has responded during this time, in addition to continuing with existing transformation projects despite the disruption.

The need for innovation

A culture of innovation is essential for successful transformation, and this rests on two very important principles: empathy and curiosity.

Empathy means being able to truly understand the people that you aim to help with your solutions. The teachers who suddenly had to devise a way to award fair marks to students in the absence of an externally marked, standardised test; the awarding organisations, who found themselves unable to test students, but still required to issue trustworthy grades. Most importantly the students, who had little to no agency or input in decisions and events that would have great influence in the future direction of the academic, maybe even their professional lives.

Curiosity leads you to ask “why?” and “what?” to get to the root of an issue. Why was a synchronous, location-based examination model the norm? What problems did it solve when it was first introduced? What has changed since it first came in? Why did those changes take place? What has changed in the world (society, culture, technology, economy, etc) that may lead people to challenge whether the current model is still appropriate?

In the book Antifragile, Nassim Taleb talks about the difference between making something Robust (something that can resist shocks) and Antifragile (something that improves with shocks, like evolution and culture). Cloud-based remote work is a good example of an antifragile solution: we don’t have to be in a particular place to work, and with the cloud we don’t even need a particular device to access our work.

Everyone in e-assessment has the moral obligation to learn from the incalculable shock we’re still going through and work together to truly transform assessment. Not just to make it robust, or even antifragile, but to truly deliver the promise that education is the key to a better world for all.

By working together, those of us working in e-assessment (both industry and research) can be truly transformative, replacing decades-old models designed for a different world with the best way to assess knowledge, skills or ability in today’s vibrant, connected world.

RM  are sponsors of the e-Assessment Association and sponsored the Best Transformational Project in the 2021 International e-Assessment Awards. Read more about RM here.

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