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Entries for the 2021 international e-Assessment Awards closed in March and Professor Bob Harrison, Chair of the Judges, has reviewed every entry. Here he shares his thoughts on how the award entries demonstrate that technology can improve the assessment process and make it more accessible, reliable, valid, relevant and cost effective.

The entries for the e assessments awards…a glimpse into the Aladdin’s cave of the future of assessment

The bumper level of entries for this year’s awards offer a clear indication of the direction of travel for the use of technology for formative and summative assessment. And if the old cliché of ‘the assessment tail wags the pedagogical dog’ is anything like true surely it will be the same for teaching and learning?

This is truly a global phenomenon as the entries come from across the world including South and North America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

As the Chair of the 24 members of the judging panel I have had the unique opportunity to review every entry and it has been an enormous privilege and a tremendous source of inspiration to see how collaboration between educators, assessment bodies, technologists and commercial interests have worked together to make sure that learning is assessed in a reliable, valid and most importantly relevant way.

There are some emerging themes across all the entries and there is no doubt that COVID-19 has been a catalyst for innovation and the entries range from individual subject assessments in computer science, state wide writing assessments, English, Maths, Reading and functional skills, Teacher Education and Training to whole country cohorts of key stages of learning.

The establishment of purpose designed Test Centres is an interesting development and an increased attention to AI and machine learning is clear. Also clear from those entries which included user feedback (always a powerful bit of evidence in my experience) is that most learners prefer online assessment to paper based systems.

The entries in the Best Research category also shine a light into even greater potential of technology to enhance assessment.

If you are looking for ‘Transformational’ ideas this category, which has the highest number of entries, is a real indicator of the creativity and desire there is to improve the current paper based system to one that not only seeks to exploit the full benefits of technology but also meets the needs of future learners in an increasingly digital world.

And if you need some inspiration then look no further than the shortlist from the category of Most Innovative use of Technology for Assessment but be prepared to have some of your existing views about how we currently assess learning to be challenged.

If you have any doubts about direction of travel or the global nature of the issues and challenges in the use of technology to enhance assessment then the entries for the ‘International Implementation’ award will quickly dispel them.

Once again these awards demonstrate the capacity and capability within the world of e-assessment to use technology to improve the assessment process and make it more accessible, reliable, valid, relevant and cost effective. This year’s awards are another benchmark of an irreversible direction of travel. It would be dangerous not to take notice.

About Professor Bob Harrison, Chair of the Judges of the 2021 e-Assessment International Awards

Professor Bob Harrison, University of Wolverhampton, is the Chair of the Judges in 2021. Bob is overseeing the judging process across all of the seven externally judged categories and supporting the twenty-eight independent judges of the Awards, offering advice and counsel to all of the professionals judging this year. .

Follow Professor Bob Harrison on Twitter at @BobHarrisonEdu

Find out more about the Judges for the 2021 e-Assessment Awards here.

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