Commissioned by what was then BECTA, in conjunction with the Technology Education Research Unit (TERU) at Goldsmiths, University of London, as well as several UK accreditation bodies we set out to develop new ways of assessing innovation, creativity and collaboration digitally.
Initially used in the controlled assessment of coursework in GCSE Design and Technology, we provided a web-based digital portfolio along with a system allowing teachers to monitor, manage and assess creativity and collaboration between students.
Teachers and accreditation bodies captured evidence of learners’ work via digital portfolios during assessment, moderation and verification and all users could access the system via their mobile device.
A series of presentations and research papers were published as a result of this innovative project, charting its stages.
In 605AD, China invented the standardised nationwide test. Known as the ‘Imperial Examination,’ its purpose was to assess candidates for specific government positions en masse. Fast-forward to England in 1806, and the Civil Service adopted a similar mass testing model to discover suitable public servants. Standardised exams soon became a staple of the UK education system and still remain as the benchmark for measuring pupils’ abilities.
Clearly much has changed since the Imperial and Victorian ages, but some underlying principles remain the same. One of the key drivers in assessment is the need to examine what students know and if they have learnt what they have been taught, but also it is to ensure we have an education system that gives students the necessary skills for their time.
A recent report from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills states, “The principal role of Government is to provide policy stability and ensure the provision of a high quality system of education which allows all young people to embark on their adult lives with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to succeed in contemporary society, including in the workplace.”
The modern disconnect
Employers want a workforce with the right skill set and whilst businesses are demanding young people with good academic and technical skills, they also need what is often collectively referred to as 21st Century skills or ‘Soft Skills’. However, educators are failing to meet business demands for modern skills, which is largely because assessment practices have yet to catch-up. To overcome this, a modern approach to assessment is urgently required.
The assessment of pure knowledge is not under question here. It is valid, taught at all levels and can be reliably assessed. What has been missing to date is the reliable assessment of these ‘soft skills’ including creativity, collaborative skills and problem solving.
McDonald’s backing soft skills campaign produced a report in January this year highlighting that soft-skills are worth £88bn to the UK economy.
Enter technology stage right
The significant increase in penetration of internet access and mobile devices means that learners can access information, share ideas, collaborate and capture evidence of learning wherever they are. So we can capture learning as it happens better and more effectively than we have been able to do previously.
Furthermore, we now have new technology to facilitate exceptional accuracy for both peer-to-peer and educator assessment – up to 98% reliability for open-ended assessments, which is far superior to that which can be achieved by conventional marking.
It is no longer a question of what is, or is not possible. With the technology in place we can continue to educate and assess en masse, only with 21st century skills fit for the 21st century. So that when people look back to our time, they will note that one of the most important education changes was what we assessed and how we managed to do it.
– Alison Pearce,
Sector Specialist, IT, Creative Media, Computing and Digital Technologies, Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations”
Sector Specialist, Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations
Jayakumar oversees all of the Digital Assess financial activities in India. With over 15 years of experience in the software industry, he has worked for multinational corporations such as UST Global and InApp Inc. His extensive knowledge in finance and accounts ensures timely and efficient financial management.
Renju provides the overall technical direction for the development, design and systems integration from definition phase through implementation for all Digital Assess projects. His knowledge of industry trends helps us to improve the service we are able to deliver to our clients.
Tony has over 12 years of experience in the e-learning and educational content development sector and runs our Indian subsidiary, leading large-scale projects, from inception to successful completion.
Karen manages press activities and events across all sectors, including co-ordinating our participation at conferences and exhibitions, press releases, media liaison and advertising.
Camila has a PhD in Particle Physics, with a strong background in data analysis, data mining, statistics and software development. She has experience implementing machine learning algorithms in academic contexts and commercial applications acquired whilst in the S2DS program (Science to Data Science 2016). Camila works with our clients to analyse their Adaptive Comparative Judgement data and with our technology teams to develop the next generation of assessment technologies using Machine Learning and Natural Language processing. Camila previously worked with one of the experiments from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN before joining Digital Assess.
Dave is responsible for overseeing all testing and end-user support for our projects. He has managed hundreds of education and assessment-related projects during his career.