Online assessments are everywhere (except here)


Following on from my rant about paper-based exams, Ty Goddard  of EdTech UK asked me for some current examples of online assessment. Spoiled for choice! Although I could find no country that bases its end-of-school qualification entirely on an online process, there is a quite astonishing range of online solutions to different assessment problems. Here are just a few that I thought worth sharing with you:

The PISA test

…has been delivered online since 2015.

Some national tests

Exam boards such as OCR

…have been experimenting with putting exams online for a long time: example. The problem they face is that they have to make their online assessments functionally identical to their offline assessments. This is like building a car to the specification that it must work exactly like a horse-drawn buggy.

Escaping “tests”

Once we go online, we are not restricted to “test” formats for assessment. One (of many) alternative is continuous assessment by teachers, which can be real-time moderated by an awarding body. Here are two examples:

Finland: Students in Finland sit no mandatory exams until the age of 17-19. Teacher based assessments are used by schools to monitor progress and these are not graded, scored or compared; but instead are descriptive and utilised in a formative manner to inform feedback and assessment for learning.

Tapestry is an assessment log already very popular in Early Years/Foundation Stage (EYFS); the principle is applicable to any age group. Teachers photograph or video students as they work, typically in groups, and grade them to a level against a short list of criteria. At the end the year the software can produce a report that abstracts the contribution of each individual student.

At tertiary level

…and in vocational training, MOOCs such as Coursera have become almost the default format. Those that have high-stakes assessments typically run them on demand, and in the learning environment. Invigilation is done using online tools, for example the student may be required to leave their webcam on and available. Keystroke analysis is also used to confirm identity.

Comparative judgements

Another approach being tried is comparative judgements. The best known is the E-Scape project at Goldsmiths. This is sometimes done partially-offline, but here at Yacapaca, we already have a pure-online version that we use for mock-GCSEs and CPD.


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