There are few periods in modern history that have impacted global education with the same ferocity as the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The health crisis has caused mass disruption, with schools and universities shutting their doors worldwide. We do not know how long this will last, but we do know that education cannot simply stop. Over the recent weeks and months, educational institutions around the world have been turning to remote teaching and learning.
The situation is, of course, moving at pace. At the time of writing, UNESCO reports that more than 150 countries worldwide have implemented nationwide closures of educational institutions, impacting over 80% of world’s student population.
Examinations for many school students have been cancelled and universities that have ended face-to-face teaching have swiftly moved to online learning. Some, like the London School of Economics, have also stated they will move assessments that were due to take place this summer online.
While e-learning and e-assessment has already been on the agenda for many in education for some time, the outbreak of COVID-19 has forced a much more rapid adoption of edtech for remote learning and assessment. Teachers and students may be well used to using a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), but this has usually been complementary to traditional face to face lectures or classroom time. High stakes or summative (i.e. end of module/term/course) assessments continue to be in a controlled environment such as an exam hall for many institutions.
It goes without saying that for those universities that are planning on delivering assessments digitally this summer, they need to be designing similar ‘mock’ or practise assessments now, allowing students to familiarise themselves with the process, rules and technology. This can help to ensure that the testing is fair and identify any issues that need to be resolved from connectivity and device compatibility to security.
Longer term, digital assessment continues to offer opportunities to re-think the way assessments are designed and delivered, making them ever more accessible and relevant to the digitally-focused world we live and work in.
Whilst educational institutions have had little choice but to rapidly embrace edtech amidst the disruption caused by COVID-19, this could prove to be a pivotal moment in the long-term adoption of e-learning and e-assessment in the education sector.