Technology is transforming both learning and educational assessment. Concepts including virtual learning environments, on-screen testing systems and electronic portfolios have now become integral in modern education, helping to drive personalised learning. This provides benefits for learners, teachers and those involved with the administration of assessment within schools, colleges and training providers.
Principals from Cambridge International Centres gathered at a seminar in Cambridge recently to debate the role of technology in education. Hosted by Cambridge International Examinations, the 4th Cambridge International Advisory seminar brought together principals from schools in over 15 countries to discuss key issues around e-assessment and e-learning.
Cambridge International Examinations is continually reviewing and developing IT systems to support Cambridge schools, from tools to assist with the administration of exams to online professional development for teachers. The seminar provided Cambridge with an ideal opportunity to listen to schools and appreciate the main issues surrounding the development and implementation of new educational technologies, helping it to provide the best IT systems for a global customer base.
The seminar included a discussion about the exciting possibilities opened up in the classroom through e-learning tools such as virtual learning environments.
Gabriel Rshaid, Principal at St Andrew's Scots School in Argentina, said: "Technology can allow for a truly interactive delivery of the curriculum; a one-to-one experience in which students can learn without being afraid of being judged."
Supporting and delivering assessment by digital means is playing an increasingly significant role in examining. For instance, Cambridge International Examinations' computer-based IGCSE Geography assessment has provided students in Kuwait with an opportunity to engage in practical simulations for the first time.
Students entered a simulated tropical rainforest environment, where they were asked to complete a series of practical tasks – such as rainfall collection and measurement – using animated, interactive tools, logging their results into the testing programme as they proceeded. Without such online developments the students would not be able to carry out a practical study of rivers – as there are no rivers in Kuwait.
Technology is also being used outside the classroom to enhance the marking process for 'traditional' exam papers. In 2008, Cambridge Assessment marked more than three million scanned scripts on screen – enabling us to spare many examiners the inconvenience of managing large volumes involved in a paper-based process and giving them access to the many advantages of a digitised environment. Positive feedback from examiners on screen marking is encouraging.