Virtual Assessment Tips

Our using digital assessments tips to support the introduction of virtual assessments across your organisation.

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The corona virus pandemic is forcing us all to change our behaviors in our professional and personal lives alike. Whether you are required to work from home or need to cancel your family’s holiday plans, the crisis has a massive impact on how we live our lives and conduct business.

There will be many adverse repercussions, some of which we can predict. Others we have no way of foreseeing. There will probably also be some benefits or advancements as a result of being put through this test. We would like to highlight how this crisis has the potential to benefit institutions that provide learning and assessments.

Using Digital Assessment Tips

Many educational institutions have chosen to or been forced to shutter their campuses and cease or drastically reduce operations and events, to help stop the spread of the virus.

Many test centers are closing. Most exam bodies are also struggling to deliver exams. Universities, schools, training organizations and professional conferences, have cancelled or postponed their in-person classes and events. Some have transitioned these to the internet.

Others are still trying to figure out what to do next and how to maintain the continuity of their respective services. Providing instruction online is likely to play a large role, no matter what the organization decides. And with that instruction comes the need for assessment.

Using Digital Assessment Tips

Online testing, e-assessment, computer-based testing, digitized assessment… no matter the name used to describe it, it’s a well-established practice within the education and training industry. Yet some organizations still rely on paper and pencil to administer their tests and exams. Why? These are some of the reasons why paper and pencil still prevail.

  1. Lack of access to computers and the internet
  2. The need for security and proctoring during test administration
  3. Paper and pencil are reliable and familiar. No need for specialized technical knowledge or tools
  • Concerns about the validity and reliability of the test when its delivery format is substantively changed
  • Unwillingness to change

Using Digital Assessment Tips

Except for the first, lack of connectivity, none of these reasons for continuing the use of paper and pencil tests is a real barrier. And in certain parts of the world, where the internet is accessible to as high as 94% of the population, even the lack of connectivity is not a real barrier in practice.

It’s true that pencils, pens and paper are universally familiar and despite being ancient technologies, are extremely reliable. But their familiarity is in fact waning, with the generations of digital natives who are now in school, higher education and workplace settings. Many test-takers are more familiar with computers and mobile devices as their primary medium of communication, than they are with paper and pencil/pen. And there are increasing demands from industry bodies to stop using pen and paper exams. (See, for example, TES on “calls to scrap pen and paper exams by 2025” (February 2020):

Using Digital Assessment Tips

Even pencils run out of lead and pens out of ink. Not to mention, when was the last time you hand-wrote a letter to a relative or a business colleague?

Of all the possible barriers, this is the most legitimate. An instrument that is not reliable and valid, yields no useful measurement data.

Adapting your exam from paper delivery to online delivery may in fact, reduce reliability and therefore validity, but the extent of that risk is highly dependent on the subject area domain.

For example, if you are assessing conversational speaking skill in a foreign language, then going online will be a challenge, and you should pay close attention to reliability. While you could use a video conferencing platform to administer the oral exam, you will want to be sure that the technical characteristics of the test environment don’t interfere with how well a test-taker performs.

Using Digital Assessment Tips

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