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Digital assessment practices in secondary schools

In 2016, we're seeing more NZ schools implementing innovative and modern learning pedagogies into teaching and learning, which has also resulted in shifts in assessment practices. One of the 7 Principles of Learning (The nature of learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD) talks about assessment for learning and more importantly, authentic assessment practices where;

The  learning  environment needs to be very clear about what is expected, what learners are doing, and why. Otherwise, motivation decreases, students are less able to fit discrete activities into larger knowledge frameworks, and they are less likely to become self-regulated learners. 

One story that illustrates the power of authentic assessment, ownership of learning  as well as the celebration of cultural identity and can be seen in this Enabling e-Learning video, Polyfest as a learning context – English: Create a visual text.

With so much ready access to mobile technologies, digital tools and resources, the way senior students share, archive and assess their learning is also changing. The empowering phase of the e-Learning Planning Framework summarises:

School: In our school, e-learning is part of effective cycles of reflection and assessment, involving the wider community.
Personal: My learners’ reflections and assessments use digital technologies so that whānau /peers can be involved in the learning.
Whānau: In our school, assessment uses digital technologies to support learners to review and share their progress throughout their time in school.
Student/ākonga: In my school, we use digital technologies so I can store, review and share how well I am doing throughout my time at school.

These indicators provide an aspirational vision for how learners’ needs can be met through assessment practices (summative, formative) using variety of tools – not just those chosen by the teacher. In the following podcast, Mary-Anne Murphy talks to Derek Wenmoth (CORE Education) about the importance of personalising assessment with negotiated input from students and their whānau.

A rich example of how one secondary teacher has scaffolded and negotiated the learning with students, while using a combination of classroom-based activities and digital technologies can be seen in the TKI Assessment Online story, Personalised assessment practices in a secondary context.

The benefits of digital assessment are wide reaching - assessment can become an extension of teaching and learning, technology solutions can overcome learning and assessment issues (and could largely eliminate the need for special assessment conditions), and more streamlined moderation processes will benefit all teachers and schools.  NZQA- Going Digital

NZQA has produced ‘Going Digital’, a series of videos showcasing three schools that are early adopters of technology in their teaching, learning and assessment. For example, this inspirational story from Tamaki College where comments from teachers like, "Our entire NZCEA level 1 programme is digital. We’ve just sent our stuff to the moderators and it was just a click on a button, so it was much much better" and "If learning is ubiquitous then assessment should be ubiquitous as well" show an understanding for the practicalities as well as the potential for digitising assessment.

Currently secondary schools are trialing internally and externally for examinations. To find out more about the possibilities, benefits or barriers to implementing this change, come and join Steve Bargh (NZQA) in our LIVE WEBINAR: NZQA update on digital exams, Wednesday, 15:45 - 16:45, 26th Oct 2016.

We also invite you to share your stories and join in this discussion:

  • What alternative forms of assessment (internal and external) are you trialing in your school?
  • How are digital technologies being used create opportunities for student agency and ownership of learning, while still meeting assessment requirements?
  • Are there any barriers to introducing digital assessment practices, and if so how can these be overcome?

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Join this group to contribute to discussions.