the e-Assessment Association

Brick by brick – the future of assessments. By Matthew Poyiadgi, Vice President, Pearson VUE

Brick by brick – the future of assessments. By Matthew Poyiadgi, Vice President, Pearson VUE

Matthew Poyiadgi, Vice President for Pearson VUE on what 2022 holds for the e-assessment sector

With many Christmas presents having already been discarded as attention spans reduce, Lego has survived the passage of time. I’m pleased to say that no Lego has ever been thrown out from our house in 25 years. This got me thinking about how the iconic Lego brick can be applied to our industry. We are increasingly living in a ‘Lego world’. The last couple of years has seen rapid acceleration of the unbundling of learning, where the needs of individual learners can be broken down into modular pieces and then stacked together.

Here are my top three predictions for the assessments industry in 2022:

1. Lifetime employability, not lifetime employment: a Lego world

The current generation of professionals do not spend their careers with one company – they change jobs frequently and even branch out into different areas. It’s now about lifetime employability rather than lifetime employment. With the rise of the gig economy and contingent workers, work has become less permanent. Plus what we learn expires very quickly. With people seemingly less faithful to one company or one profession, why should they follow only one educational pathway, at only one point in our lives. The idea of a single education followed by a single career is over.

The assessments industry will need to respond to changing behaviours and enable individuals to assemble their personalised credentials based on their own professional goals. Digital micro-credentials, badges and nanodegrees are growing in popularity and highlight more individualised achievements, skills and competencies. When unbundled, these stack into lifelong learning for that individual which they manage at their own pace. It is now highly likely that two individuals’ learning programmes are made up of different building blocks, even if the outcome is the same qualification.

Much still needs to be defined: what is the optimum length of a learning module; how can they be assembled into playlists; will a test follow suit?

2. All about choice

There is still a lot of debate around technology-led disruptions, such as how we incorporate AI into assessments to increase efficiency, speed and scale and the optimal mix of online proctoring and test centre exam delivery. It is important to understand that we are in the attention economy and consumers want to choose and be in control. While the pandemic certainly increased the adoption of remote proctoring (our online test delivery increased by more than 300%), learners want convenience; to test where and when they want (whether that’s in a town centre one day or from home the next). Online proctored exams are expanding candidate choice. Just as with how they grocery shop or consume media, people want to pick and choose different options depending on their circumstances.

Exam delivery modes must follow suit and bind seamlessly into one learner record, so that certification is recognised instantly once the requisite number of exams are passed.

3. Anticipate change

A former Nokia CEO said, “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we lost.” The industry disrupted around them and they couldn’t manage the change.

Disjointed is dated and learner patience is wearing thin. Consider how a UK university charges fees of £9,250 per year, while Disney charges less than £60 for a Disney+ subscription and Netflix charges £72. People are learning online, often at home – there is a link here that implies change. Learning has to be current, irresistibly engaging and steeped in real life problem solving. It has to relate directly to what an individual does each day in their work and the assessment must measure those same activities. It will do so by leveraging innovation to create simulations and performance-based tests that replicate the workplace environment, as a great way for people to demonstrate their competence in real-life scenarios. Assessing whether a candidate knows how to do something vs actually measuring their ability to do it is the key differentiator.

This race has no finishing line. To compete, we must anticipate changing consumer behaviours and be bold enough to modify or even abandon which assessment methods are not working in order to stay ahead of the curve. To think: blockchain, the metaverse and Web 3.0 – we haven’t scratched the surface.