Consumer Discretionary

The Future For Formal Education Is Digital Examinations

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<p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The COVID-19 pandemic brought massive change to the education sector globally with technology at the center. During the lockdown in spring 2020, governments in UK, US, Austria, Australia, Italy, Scandinavia pushed through a switch to online teaching at all educational levels. The speed of change was bound to cause problems for teachers, parents and students, but generally it allowed for teaching to continue during the pandemic.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Exams suffered a different fate. In 2020 and 2021 most governments have cancelled national exams for primary and secondary education to replace these with teacher given grades. Teachers, parents, educators, employers and students protest. Without exams, fairness in the evaluation of student abilities is too easily compromised. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Governments do not have the liberty to experiment to find solutions to the problems of exams in a pandemic. Universities, however, do.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In 2020, dealing with the first wave of the pandemic, leading European, US and Australian universities abandoned traditional, high stakes, quality assured examinations and moved to continuous, low stakes, teacher marked assessments. Universities had already since the 1990&rsquo;ies adopted teaching and learning technologies and these were familiar to staff and students when the pandemic hit. Most universities redesigned their exam papers to suit a low stake, course work type of assessment and let students use their Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to submit assessments. But VLEs not built to handle diverse user groups, large numbers of concurrent users, process reporting and assessment session control. Universities came out of the summer exams 2020 exhausted.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In 2021, leading universities now return to examinations and have begun adopting new technology to support online examinations. The change management needs are serious: Academics authoring and marking exam papers onscreen, students typing exams instead of handwriting them, exams offices using digital tools to plan and monitor the end-to-end exams process, invigilators using technology to monitor for malpractice during the exam. The dedicated online exams technology has existed for some time, but the speed and scale with which it is now adopted is unprecedented for universities that are investing heavily to complete the change in time for summer exams 2021.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">When the dust settles after summer exams 2021, universities will find themselves not wanting to go back to paper-based exams. Experiences from Scandinavia, where the term <em>digital examinations</em> and platforms to support it were founded in 2011-2014 as a result of government digitalization agendas, show that universities gain too much in efficiency, exams process transparency and student satisfaction to go back to paper-based examinations. The digitalization process is tough, but the future for formal education is not to abandon examinations. It is to maintain formal <em>digital</em> examinations. Governments regulating primary and secondary educations are slower than universities, but it is reasonable to expect them to follow the path set out by universities and by 2030 examinations at all educational levels will still exist, only as digital examinations.</p>
KR Expert - Sofie Emmertsen