04 Nov 2015
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Paving the way for the next generation of learning

Educational assessments continue to evolve at warp speed. The landscape is transforming into a set of digitally guided activities that are increasingly actionable, outcomes-oriented (results unified with instruction), and able to facilitate students’ continuous learning.

Given that classrooms today are increasingly digital, educational assessments need to evolve to deliver richer and more predictive results that can inform educators of an individual student’s learning patterns and abilities.

The next generation of educational assessments must move from evaluating ‘how much’ to ‘how to succeed’, and operate not as a one-time only event, but as a continuous developmental aid in a student’s educational life.

The advent of SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) and other digital technologies has opened new possibilities for alternative assessments through better information literacy, social media and ubiquitous access.

It is increasingly evident that technology can improve every step of the assessment process, starting with test development, rendering and scoring, through reporting and results analysis. Adaptive learning design is now driven by assessment outcomes. As a result, every step of the assessment value chain is undergoing a radical transformation.

In order to analyse the data from learning interactions and assessments, and improve learning outcomes for individual students, institutions will need predictive tools. Various kinds of data can be reported and analysed: 

Who: This includes information about students, such as demographics, attendance frequency of logging in, and which parts of the assessment or application are being accessed. Rosters, grades, disciplinary records and attendance information are all examples of system-wide data that could be stored about the users.

What: What are the concepts and skills being tested? What are the benchmarks for testing? What are the expected learning outcomes, and the results or scores?

How: How do students perform on skills and concepts? How is the performance measured against a benchmark and average?

The ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ need to be combined with empirical and social data. This could be called the learner’s ‘Code Halo’ — digital footprints the learner leaves while interacting with social media, learning management systems and sites of institutions — which can redefine the credentialing landscape through insights from future assessment systems. Together, these developments will lead to more qualitative and less time-consuming assessments. 

Looking ahead

Today’s educational institutions need to move forward with continuous data-driven insights to improve assessments and learning outcomes. The four key imperatives are: 

- Build platforms that provide holistic assessments that meet the needs for life-skill assessments.

- Implement technology that can improve every step of the assessment process, starting with test development, rendering and scoring, through reporting and results analysis.

- Embrace SMAC and other digital technologies to reduce deployment costs and deliver assessments anytime/anywhere on any device and leverage learner data.

- Manage the complexities of multiple technologies by adopting optimised service models for improved service to an increasingly globalised user community.

Educational institutions will need to evaluate the potential of technology carefully to move forward with continuous data-driven insights that would improve learning outcomes and meet millennial learners’ needs.                                               

By Balakrishnan Shanmugham, Vice President and Head of Global Delivery, Education Services, Cognizant

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