Digital Transformation in Higher Education
While we might all agree that there is no assessment without integrity, what that integrity is, can and will differ depending on our context. It’s not just the digitisation of assessment but the digitisation of the world around us that brings opportunity and challenges to how we assess.
The traditional split between exams in an exam hall on paper, and take home assessments on a computer with no restrictions provided educators a sharp divide; using a computer meant open book conditions. Conversely, closed book conditions required paper, exam halls and all the logistics that follow. There has been some movement towards exams on computers though they have tended to be shorter, formative and often a handful of question types.
A digital assessment ecosystem opens up a world of flexibility in terms of importing, reusing and authoring a variety of question types, the use of real-world applications to make assessments more authentic and for students to bring their own device.
How, then, do you ensure that this flexibility and world of possibilities can happily coexist with academic regulations to ensure integrity in your assessments?
It depends in part on where you are in the cycle of assessment review, redesign and innovation. Digitising your assessments doesn’t have to take place at the same speed or be a wholesale change. A flexible ecosystem affords the ability for change to happen in different ways and at different velocities that could be as granular as a single assessment.
Common concerns about digital transformation
You want the benefits of digitisation but need to replicate the exam hall
A lockdown browser lets your students use their own device or one you provide, to replicate exam conditions. You can set it so they can only view their exam paper or take advantage of the flexibility to allow access to specific resources or websites.
This may be the right place for you if your assessment inherently requires closed book conditions. An early stage test of knowledge or a professional requirement to show knowledge and application in the absence of other materials. Or you may be at a stage where you are looking in the medium term to move away from a terminal exam but are not ready to do so. A flexible ecosystem allows you to both change some assessments but leave others until you are ready to do so, further in the future.
You want to give your students freedom to use resources but to be able to check what they did
Whether it’s an exam that has always been open book and perhaps a take home assessment, you want to be sure that students have properly referenced materials but not contravened academic regulations on plagiarism or external assistance. The rise of accessible AI has brought a new opportunity and concern in this area. A student may not have plagiarised but the work might not have been written by them at all.
The ability to check for plagiarism has been available for some time now in the realm of take home assessments on an LMS, but a digital assessment ecosystem unlocks this capability across all assessment types. You could run a formerly closed book exam as an open book exam and have the capability to check for plagiarism, AI written content and do so within the same environment. The impact on students is greater freedom to use wider resources without a larger change in assessment format, but you retain the ability to ensure the assessment has integrity.
Do you need to reconsider your assessment format?
As institutions know, assessment innovation is a team sport. As an assessment ecosystem vendor with employees who have been educators, we take an active interest in being part of your innovation journey. Our collective experience of educating and working with educators around the world means we can help you consider new ways to assess using digital tools and put you in contact with other clients who have innovated. Be it alternative question types, assessment formats, or methods of grading, we and our global community of educators are always willing to share best practice to help you drive assessments forward.
Ishan Kolhatkar is Global Client Evangelist at Inspera. Prior to working here, he was a Principal Lecturer in Law, Deputy Dean of Learning and Teaching and Director of Group Education Technology.
Written by Ishan KolhatkarJuly 28, 2023