From education to employment

International Baccalaureate moves to digital exams to future-proof qualification

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The International Baccalaureate, taken by thousands of British pupils, will move to digital exams to “future-proof” the qualification for the next generation. The IB Diploma, which is taught in 203 British schools in place of A-levels and gives students a wider curriculum, will look towards developing online exams and possibly virtual reality assessments.

The director-general of the IB said last week, that in moving the diploma online he hopes to assess students in a way that is better for the workplace and the modern world. It will also allow those outside mainstream education, or have to learn remotely to have access to the qualification. However, overhauling a qualification in this way does not happen overnight and it will take time to ensure that teachers have the training to use new technology and ways of teaching, and the needs of students are being fully met.

Sector Response

Stewart Watts, VP EMEA at D2L comments on how to best implement online learning:

“The pandemic has been a catalyst for great change. As suggested by IB’s director-general, education needs to evolve with the modern world. The number of students that are not ‘workplace ready’ is well documented. Many lack the crucial skills required for today’s workforce and business challenges. To close this gap, the way in which we value, deliver and measure learning needs to change, especially if we are looking to address the ongoing recruitment challenges. Vocational qualifications courses are a step in the right direction. However, reforming an entire education programme will take time and needs to be approached carefully.

“While there are a number of benefits to online assessments, precautions must be taken to ensure that students receive the best experience possible. It is crucial these initiatives are carefully planned and thought-out with students in mind. By incorporating data analytics into these online assessments, faculty can identify where students are struggling and adjust their courses accordingly. Teachers can see students’ average grades far more easily, but combined with other data points it can give a holistic view of how students are progressing across each of their subjects and courses. If the online IB is carried out successfully they will allow students to engage in a variety of formats, whether that be audio, film, or virtual reality, enabling them to study and take their exams from anywhere, and on any device.

“Unfortunately, many teachers have never been officially trained in delivering online learning or designing online assessments, as it is usually not part of the teacher training curriculum. This lack of instructional design knowledge means that beginning to create a structured online space can be challenging. Both education technology and online learning should complement all current learning and teaching objectives. Ensuring staff can use and apply these technologies effectively throughout their programmes helps ensure they deliver the best learning experience possible.”

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