When people think of assessment in further education, they tend to think of an assessor standing stoically by a learner making judgements about their abilities.
But in the 21st century, such old-fashioned approaches to assessments are starting to give way to digital methods.
Digital technologies can offer a range of benefits when conducting all kinds of assessments, including:
- The provision of immediate feedback
- The potential to increase an apprentice’s autonomy, agency and self-regulation
- Support for collaborative learning
- Providing and ensuring authenticity
- Increasing efficiency and decreasing the assessor’s workload
- Improving learner performance
- Improving assessment validity and reliability
We’ve found that digital tech often makes End-Point Assessment (EPA) way easier. Here are some of the ways we use it!
Online exams and invigilation
In an assessment, it’s always good to have options.
For every EPA we conduct, there is always the option of booking test centres where apprentices can take a physical paper test.
However, that’s not always the best option.
Sometimes, it makes more sense to take a test online. It saves loads of time and money. For some apprentices, it makes more sense to take a test from the comfort of their own home or workplace.
TQUK conducts online tests whenever possible and invigilates them using webcam monitoring to ensure that quality standards are maintained. Our online tests are also incorporated into our Verve EPA system, so they are easy for our assessors to manage and track. Apprentices can also access our online system to view and track their own progress.
Where possible, the apprenticeship standards have encouraged EPAOs to be as flexible as possible in offering methods of EPA delivery. And with our online MCQ tests, we’re doing just that.
Not only does an online assessment of this kind make the assessment process more efficient and cost-effective, but it’s also popular with apprentices. According to a recent Jisc report, 62 % of FE learners agreed that e-assessment is convenient and 56% said that e-assessment was more enjoyable than normal assessment.
Remote professional discussions
There are a lot of parties involved in an apprenticeship. There’s the apprentice, the assessor, the trainer, the employer, the employer’s representatives…the list can go on.
When scheduling an EPA, it can be difficult to get all these people in one place. After all, assessors have other clients, employers have lots of work to do and trainers have other apprentices to train.
Luckily, certain assessment activities, like professional discussions, can be conducted remotely. While discussions can be conducted over the phone, conferencing software like Skype or GoToMeeting offer a much richer assessment experience. These programs offer participants the option to customise their discussion by providing documents, audio files and more to give a full picture of the apprentice’s performance and abilities.
Physical copies are so last year.
E-portfolios are the digital equivalent of paper portfolios, but the term also applies to the underlying systems and tools used to make them possible. The digitisation of physical portfolios offers loads of benefits to the assessment process, allowing assessors to manage electronic evidence against specific criteria. Benefits of e-portfolios include:
- Saving time: an online system saves our assessors time by removing the need to search for relevant paper-based portfolio materials ahead of meetings, creating reports, travelling to and from meetings and following up with apprentices on their progress.
- Easy file storage and sharing in real time: evidence can be stored securely online and files can be accessed by both assessors and apprentices. E-portfolios allow for real-time discussion and feedback.
- Instant progress updates: EPA portfolios are available online 24/7, giving assessors the ability to record and monitor apprentice progress as it happens.
- Access: Assessors have 24/7 access to all information whenever they need it, without the need for heavy paper-based portfolios that can get lost, damaged or destroyed.
- Cost reduction: Assessors can log in to the system remotely and significantly reducing travel expenses to the employer’s premises.
TQUK has its own e-portfolio system, Verve EPA, which providers can use to upload an apprentice’s full portfolio. With e-portfolios, assessors, trainers, apprentices and employers are presented with a rich picture of the apprentice’s abilities that is changeable in real time.
Digital assessment trends we’re keeping our eye on
The landscape of assessment is always changing. Here are some things that may affect how assessments are conducted in the future.
- Gamification: Video games have become so ubiquitous over the last four decades that their presence is being felt in education in a major way. Many pedagogy experts are now using video game design to create learning environments to better engage their learners. Games are increasingly being used by private companies and educational institutions to assess the abilities of learners and candidates with a range of different game types. The data from gamified assessments can also be seamlessly integrated into tracking systems to create useful analytics.
- Virtual Aristotle: a virtual Aristotle has been the Holy Grail of education and assessment for years. The idea is to create an AI program that is so advanced that it would tailor educational activities to individual learners. Such a program would also be able to learn and develop over time to create a truly individualised and adaptable educational experience. The creation of such a program could create new and exciting assessment methods. We’re excited to see where this goes!
- Mobile learning and assessment: Everyone has a smartphone these days, and that presents a wide range of opportunities to conduct mobile assessments. Many people feel more comfortable doing work on their mobiles than on PCs these days, so it makes sense that assessment activities will expand to suit this trend. There are challenges to adapting assessments to mobile devices, but the rewards could be enormous.
We’re excited to see how the assessment landscape will change over the years through the advancement of new digital technology. To keep up to date with the latest EPA news from TQUK, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
See you around The Hive!