According to a recent article published in TES, it could.
The article, based on the thoughts of Cambridge Assessment chief executive Simon Lebus, explains how the technology to replace traditional public examinations already exists yet the movement towards such a system is slow and underdeveloped.
There are limitations here of course, as the author identifies: time, money, opportunity cost. But for me, the most significant barrier is what Mr. Lebus identifies as ‘trust’.
As a nation, even as a world, we are highly risk averse with our education. When it comes to taxis, food, shopping, even our romantic relationships we are more than happy for technological advancements to play their part but mention the same in education and something doesn’t quite click.
I’m sure of one thing; there’s no lack of appetite on the part of teachers. Every teacher I’ve ever met knows and understands the potential of technology in their schools. The reluctance to truly embrace technology in schools lies at an institutional level and is based largely on fear; a fear of a lack of control, a fear of parental repercussions, of dehumanising education and ultimately, a fear of failure. You could in fact apply these fears to any form of educational change, not just the arrival of technology.
It’s no bad thing that we take our children’s lives more seriously than we do our Friday night lift home; the stakes are unequivocally higher. But if we always wait then how do we know what we might be missing out on? What about the opportunities, rather than the risks?
I’m not out to encourage more people to support technology, even change, in schools, we’ve already proved that necessity. It’s a call to action. Do something about it.
Pamoja are already summatively assessing students online. Thousands of International Baccalaureate students are completing online assignments; taking quizzes, sharing wikis, discussing topics, submitting essays, even making films. By doing so, they can receive instant feedback, share work with their peers and teachers and, most importantly, they inadvertently provide data on their learning. Properly tracked, understood, contextualised and supported, this data is in my mind, better incremental evidence of their learning than an exam could ever assess.
What are we waiting for?
Harry Copson is the Academic Operations Officer at Pamoja, supporting, monitoring and analysing data for thousands of IB students and over 150 teachers. He is a qualified EFL teacher with teaching experience in the UK and India and has been involved in educational projects around the world.
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