Technology and the future of student assessment

“Students today are growing up in a world overflowing with a variety of high-tech tools, from computers and video games to increasingly sophisticated mobile devices. And unlike adults, these students don’t have to adjust to the information age—it will be all they’ve ever known. Their schools are gradually following suit, integrating a range of technologies both in and outside of the classroom for instructional use. But there’s one day a year when laptops power down and students’ mobile computing devices fall silent, a day when most schools across the country revert to an era when whiteboards were blackboards, and iPhones were just a twinkle in some techie’s eye—testing day.”

This report out today from  Education Sector Research is a provocative read, and worth taking the time to digest. As highlighted in the intro above, the report points to the growing disconnect that exists between the increase in use of ICTs in classroom teaching and learning programmes, and its absence from the area of formal assessment.

The writer argues that technology has the potential to do more than just make our current approach to testing more efficient, pointing to new research projects that are demonstrating how ICTs can both deepen and broaden assessment practices in primary and secondary education, by assessing more comprehensively and by assessing new skills and concepts.

This is not a “once-over-lightly” analysis – it provides a useful overview of key issues and points to some promising models.  The writer provides some background to the use of ICTs in assessment over the past decade before illustrating the potential of ICTs in assessment with examples from the current research projects before exploring concepts of assessment linked to cognitive development etc. What particularly stood out to me is the conclusion that the most useful contribution of ICTs in assessment is in formative assessment, providing descriptive data that give teachers better information about how students are progressing and why they are performing at their current levels. They also provide insight into what changes to instruction might be the most effective (something I’m sure the users of e-asTTle will be pleased to have reinforced 🙂

Download “Beyond the Bubble: Technology and the Future of Student Assessment”(920Kb PDF)

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