Qualifications fit for the Information Age

With the pervasive nature of technology, in particular mobile tech along with always on internet and readily available search facilities, the learning process has been opened up to endless possibilities for knowledge acquisition.

Mobile technology

Mobile technology

The need for learners to have the skills for ‘how to learn’, which essentially is the ability to effectively find and understand information returned from search queries, is now more important than having the ability to recall knowledge and understanding from (human) memory.

The challenging question is why shouldn’t learners be able to utilise technology for assessments in the same way that they do as part of their learning process? This is also more representative of modern workplaces as well, so why should many, if not most, assessments fro qualifications still require the use of what are called ‘closed-book’ exams or assessments, where no supporting material is permitted?

The use of ‘open-book’ exams or assessments are fit for purpose the Information Age, yet there is reluctance or inertia within many educational and assessment establishments to embrace the  reality of modern life and reflect this within the assessment process.

Significant and demanding challenges will exist for those involved in the setting of open-book type assessments and exams where mobile technology is not just allowed but required. Being able to determine how well a learner can apply their learning, particularly to a depth of understanding, rather than just cut and paste chunks of information from a web search will pose a significant challenge to question setters.

The overcoming of perceptions that modern-technological implementations of open-book assessments or exams will be easier than closed-book ones would also need to be addressed.

Learners will still need to actively engage with the learning process to develop their understanding of what is being learnt, and the assessments will not make this any easier. A wider range of areas may also be considered for inclusion within an assessment (unlike at present where typically a sample of each subject area is tested within an assessment), and this may require an extension in time of the assessment process, as well as possibly more assessments. Pass marks and grades may even require a higher achievement rate.

In addition, there will still be time-constraints for any assessment or exam: This exists within any workplace and arguably time pressures in work situations are greater now than in the recent past.

How best can modern technology be used to better support learners within an assessment or exam and at the same time better reflect the way learning is undertaken in the Information Age?

Just a thought anyway.

Chris Gray, 31st July 2019