the e-Assessment Association

Standards in e-Testing

Standards in e-Testing

I started working in e-assessment sales in the late 90’s and carried on into the mid-2000s Perhaps looking back I see this period as the heyday of e-assessment, with the new world of e-assessment providing an opportunity to give learners and candidates a better experience including instant feedback and on-demand testing. I worked closely with QCA (as was) and with a number of awarding bodies, and even completed my MBA dissertation with the incredibly exciting ‘Barriers to adoption of e-assessment by UK Awarding Bodies’. However, having had a seven year break from e-assessment and focussing more on the e-learning side of things, I have returned to the e-assessment fold and discovered that things have not really moved on. I had a presentation from one of the stalwarts of e-testing – I won’t mention any names – it was the same presentation I had seen them give 10 years ago.

Working now internationally I speak to many organisations who are contemplating moving to e-assessment and they are struggling. They still see e-assessment as being about the technology, whereas I think that’s the easy bit. The real challenge is that, as with any IT project, you need to understand what it is that you are trying to achieve strategically, and then align the organisation to achieve this. Once you know this, it will direct you towards the tactical and operational decisions you need to make. This is a process that I am hoping to provide a solution for and I am currently working with the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to put together a standard on high-stakes e-testing, which will include the more strategic implications of e-testing and how this impacts on the operational elements. NB. I am specifically using the terms high stakes and e-testing as it narrows the scope and makes things somewhat easier.

Whilst this may sound straight forward the actuality of it is much more difficult as different types of organisations (for example, academic and commercial testing organisations) and different countries see things differently. And, as with the United Nations there has to be consensus! This diversity is further exacerbated by the challenges around creating a standard for something that is subjective, like strategy. The intention is not to recreate work that has already been completed in the area of developing and delivering e-tests, of which there is a lot, but to draw this information together into a single body of knowledge in the context of understanding why e-testing is being implemented within an organisation.

This work is in progress and whilst I have paraphrased a lot of the activity here, I have put a schematic together which I think neatly brings the different elements of e-testing together to explain them. I would appreciate any feedback anyone may have and if they would be interested to be involved or have anything they would like to share.

Author: Patrick Coates, [email protected]

The personal views expressed in this blog are those of the eAA Board member, and not of their employer.