Generation Z (or the iGeneration), who are in school and university today, have never witnessed the introduction of the Internet, smart phones and tablets, video games, on-demand TV and film, and social media. For them, this is all very much the norm and part of their everyday lives. The skills they are developing interacting with technology every day, will be essential as they step out into an adult world of emerging technology breakthroughs in AI, robotics, quantum computing, biotechnology and so on.
Education has been late off the technology starting-blocks, but is now learning how to harness technology to support learning and teaching. Teachers are learning from each other how to successfully use technology as a teaching and learning tool, by sharing knowledge and outcomes with each other, both on a micro-level within their own schools and local communities, and on a macro-level through the Internet.
As well as supporting teaching and learning, most educators across the globe will agree that assessment is another key aspect of schooling that technology has a phenomenal potential to enhance. The world is changing and changing fast, and the challenge for educators across the globe is to ensure student assessment remains fit for purpose and relevant in the digital age. To succeed in an increasingly connected world, students need the right attitudes, adaptable skills and cultural sensitivity – and assessment needs to be able to evaluate and help foster these skills in learners. By harnessing the digital tools around us, educators can better assess students’ abilities; identify their strongest and weakest skills; and encourage them to demonstrate their whole skillset – all the while moving away from traditional, memory-based, and often stressful, examination methods.
Combining traditional academic merit and contemporary digital innovation, in 2016 the International Baccalaureate (IB) introduced eAssessment to its Middle Years Programme (MYP). MYP eAssessment is designed to focus on scenarios in which students must use knowledge and skills to analyse unfamiliar situations, thus challenging them to connect what they have learned with what they might learn next, and apply big ideas to solve real-world problems. This has traditionally been harder to achieve using paper-based examinations but, with technology, more is possible.
Different types of tasks are used within the on-screen examinations to test specific skills, meaning that students’ achievement against all subject objectives are thoroughly tested. For example, writing a short static essay assesses writing capability, whilst creating an infographic assesses interactive communication and presentation skills. With the use of images, videos, animations and models, and through interactive tools, candidates can create, manipulate and make decisions about how to manage data. On-screen tools can help students who aren’t working in their first language too, and built-in adaptive technologies can ensure that the eAssessment is open to students with access and inclusion needs, providing all participants with the best opportunity possible to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities.
Commenting on the MYP eAssessment, IB Co-ordinator Jaya Kalsy from Victorious Kidss Educares in India, said: “Students are encouraged to utilize online learning tools, as well as exploring digital methods to present their work. Digital methods have become the window to the world. There is a sense of encouragement and advancement in the process of schooling as well as the assessment process.”
Increasingly, it is recognised that technology can add real value for students, and MYP schools offering the eAssessment say that it has enabled them to participate in exciting innovation in education. Feedback from schools, via an IB survey conducted with educators all over the globe, illustrates the natural connection between eAssessment and what is being taught and learnt in the classroom.
Schools have said that, through digital assessment, they are able to assess skills, concepts and thinking, in context, rather than knowledge recall. From our research, it is rewarding to see that schools understand that eAssessment supports conceptual teaching and learning, and is not something that can be crammed for – only good MYP practice supports good preparation. Unlike other education environments, in the MYP educators do not teach to test, but their teaching does align with assessment requirements and this brings enrichment and focus to their students’ learning.
MYP eAssessment is still relatively new but the results of the first four years clearly demonstrate an encouraging upward trend, which shows that teachers are able to connect what’s happening in their classrooms to what’s happening in the on-screen assessments, examining students’ higher thinking skills and pushing them well beyond the rote memorisation of subject-specific content.
In 2018, the MYP eAssessment was successfully recognised in the ‘Best assessment solution’ category at the ScooNews Global Education Awards in Udaipur, India as well as winning the ‘Best use of summative assessment’ award in the eAssessment Awards in London.
For more information about the IB and the MYP, please visit www.ibo.org .
The above article is authored by Eleonore Kromhout, Senior Manager Assessment Development and Delivery, International Baccalaureate