the e-Assessment Association

The journey of digital assessment: what are the key opportunities and challenges?

The journey of digital assessment: what are the key opportunities and challenges?

Exam halls are back to business-as-usual following more than two years of disruption due to the pandemic. Although learners around the world are sitting exams in person again, the accelerated adoption of digital assessment because of the pandemic has stirred up questions about the future of assessment. Keen to explore this, RM conducted a piece of research in partnership with the International Association for Education Assessment (IAEA) to uncover a clearer view of the global adoption of digital assessment.

The results show that although there are pockets of progress which are either influenced by culture, immediate necessity or desire for efficiency, there doesn’t appear to be a drive to breakout of the typical assessment cycle, yet. There are certainly some geographies who are eager to reveal the opportunities that digital assessment brings.

Read on to explore the significant findings of the report or download the full report to delve into a detailed examination of how the education sector can work together to move digital assessment forward for the benefit of all parts.

Efficiency, accessibility, and analysis: benefits of digital assessment

Almost all respondents found efficiency a key benefit of the digital assessment process compared to the paper-based alternative. Looking more closely at the data, this was both ease and efficiency regarding the decrease in administrative burden that comes with moving assessments online, and the accelerated pace of results.

 As well as pace, respondents were quick to note that digital assessments enable the collection of more data of a higher calibre that can provide detailed analysis and insight into candidate capabilities. In addition, that online assessments can reduce barriers to learning for those with specific educational needs and any geographical barriers that might exist, providing greater accessibility for all.

Infrastructure, skills and security: challenges of digital assessment 

As with any shift to digital, infrastructure emerged as a key challenge for respondents. This comprised of insufficient devices, poor connectivity and a lack of IT skills and resource to ensure the smooth transition to and subsequent delivery of digital assessment.

Although increased access to data means benefitting from quality insights, concerns regarding data security arose from respondents – especially considering ongoing legislative changes that bring to light worries over data leaks and misuse. In addition, the remote proctoring element that digital assessment lends itself to brought up concerns over the integrity of online examinations.

What next for digital assessment?

While the challenges are there, the appetite for digital assessment is rising. On a parallel, the necessary infrastructure, skills and solutions will also need to grow to provide a smooth transition to digital.

In the assessment space, leaders are key players in driving the success of this and must endeavour to make small, consistent steps towards digital transformation. Findings suggest these leaders already see value in moving towards online exams for the administrative and environmental efficiencies it can offer. They are looking ahead to protect the education system against challenges of the future that could disrupt the continuity of education and learning across the world, just like the pandemic.

If all stakeholders across the education sector from students through to government see the value of digital, we can collectively create the most seamless adoption possible. From high-stakes assessment to practice and progress assessments in learning, the opportunities are endless.


The adoption of digital assessment has been significantly encouraged as a result of the pandemic, but for most it remains in the early stages and barriers must be addressed. However, some markets are moving at pace and the research highlights early adopters are utilising the opportunities available in digital assessment as organisations look to advance their systems.

For those organisations who have taken their first steps towards digital assessment, their success fills us with confidence that digital assessment can unlock opportunities that paper could never.

Download the full report here


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