Peter Collison, Head of Formative Assessment at RM

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way businesses and industries operate indefinitely. So much so that being able to meet the demand of future employers will be paramount. But education is struggling to keep pace and, as I write this, it’s clear that the UK is spearheading towards a digital skills shortage disaster.

Already, there has been a 40% drop in the number of pupils studying IT at GCSE level alone. A worrying statistic considering over three quarters of employers claim that their profitability would drop with a workforce lacking in digital capabilities. It is vital that this gap is closed.

Other sectors have made substantial changes to how they operate, but the UK Government is still weighing up the future of the education system. The question that should be driving the conversation is how does an education system ensure that young are equipped to thrive in the world of work post-education?

And we, as a society, must act swiftly to make lasting changes so the next generation have the digital capabilities to ensure the UK can meet the demand for digital skills. Without question, schools have had an incredibly challenging year, but they have shown incredible resilience, commitment, and capacity for change.

Now is a fantastic opportunity to build on this good work and innovation achieved over lockdown to ensure the next generation have a better future ahead.

The benefits of digital assessments are as clear as day.

For many years now, digital assessments have been used frequently within a number of sectors. For example, IELTS Language Tests and Chartered Accountancy Certifications both use on screen exams and digital tools to assess students. In many cases the processes the assessments follow is intentionally closely aligned with the digital processes used by businesses and employers.

And, as a result of the pandemic altering how we live and work, we are seeing wider innovation in the assessment space. For example, many institutions are turning to alternatives to handwritten exams under the watchful eye of invigilators with many assessment and certification providers using digital assessment alternatives with remote invigilators.

There are several benefits to this. Firstly, the need to travel to a specific test centre on a specific day, which in some countries is a genuine problem and can involve a considerable journey. Also, if an individual were required to self-isolate from Covid-19, or another unforeseen situation should arise such as a snow day, that student’s assessment will still be able to go ahead as scheduled. Assessment, in effect, becomes an on-demand delivery model. There is no greater benefit to digital assessments than the flexibility test takers must sit their exam where they like and when they are ready.

The utilisation of adaptive tests is becoming far more frequent too; this gives students an experience that is substantially more personalised. This can lead to a much shorter assessments without compromising quality or accuracy. The reason for this is adaptive tests use artificial intelligence (AI) and other techniques which adapt to student’s previous answers, assessing the individual’s knowledge and skill in a highly efficient way. A perfect example of this is The Oxford Test of English, a globally recognised assessment designed from the ground up to be fully adaptive and digital.

What’s more, there has also be an increase in the number of digital tools being utilised to provide “checkpoint” assessments. These types of assessment help notify a student when they are ready for their final assessment, which provides students and teachers alike with valuable insight. The insight students gain raises awareness of their level of knowledge and can help build the confidence needed before an important exam. In some cases, this also saves them time and money by not entering for an exam before they possess the knowledge or skill required to succeed.

Students want authentic assessments that reflect the real-world.

Historically, when compared with other industries, the education sector has been slower to implement and entrench the latest innovations. Considering how important digital skills are post-education and the UK’s current digital skills capabilities, now more than ever the younger generation need to be well adept in using the technology they will later use on a daily basis.

Digital assessment can unequivocally play a starring role in developing the student’s digital capabilities and should be widely embraced in both schools and colleges to help modernise education. Students want to nurture, and be assessed on, the skills that they will use in the real world and digital assessment practices are ideal for testing “on-the-job” skills in an authentic and engaging way.

Clearly the development of digital skills should start in lower education and then mature as students enter secondary, college and higher education. However, the role of technology in teaching is often overlooked which is surprising considering the benefits if used effectively. Used well, technology improves the relationship between teachers and students by, for example, reducing admin and freeing up time for teacher: student interactions. Or perhaps by providing real-time insight into a student’s progress and level of skill. But the truth is that more often than not it presents more challenges than solutions as teachers aren’t sure of how to use the technology available effectively.

Like students, there are fantastic benefits to digital assessments for teachers; being provided with an extensive appraisal of each student, looking at their strengths and weaknesses with always the aim of improving their overall education experience. No longer will teachers have to spend hours on end manually marking test papers as digital assessment eradicates this mundane task, giving teachers more time to spend doing what they signed up for, teaching.

Real and lasting change is needed now.

The last year has forced countless industries and organisations to make permanent and lasting change to how they operate, and many would argue the changes made are for the better. The education industry is no different and should have full confidence in doing away with “traditional” approaches that no longer serve students with the best education possible. In extreme circumstances, the education sector successfully flipped their delivery model on its head and delivered high quality teaching to students regardless of their physical location. We must now build on the foundations that have been established and prepare the next generation for the difficulties they will inevitably face in the working world. We have never had a better opportunity to do so, than now.

By Peter Collison, Head of Formative Assessment at RM

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page