What’s the future for practical assessments?

It goes without saying that assessment methods have seen a forced change since lockdown was first announced in the UK in March.

Even before the pandemic, pen and paper – especially for practical assessments - just weren’t working and the need for a technological overhaul was obvious.

What many didn’t realise at the start of the pandemic was just how rapidly learning providers would take up new digital solutions.

Fast forward to now, and we’re starting to see the shift from conversations about technology enhancing assessment, to ones where technology is central to the assessment process.

The issue

Vocational course assessment traditionally relies on assessors observing students in the same room. But of course it’s difficult (and now, potentially impossible) to observe students in social care and childcare environments when social distancing measures are in place.

Plus, it’s unnecessary (and often costly) for assessors to travel between locations when there are other safer ways to observe students. Which brings us onto the solution…

The interim solutions

Many vocational courses couldn’t continue as placements were halted. But online tools meant that students could still engage with what they’d already learned. Video was absolutely essential to this.

Zoom shot up in popularity and is still connecting many students remotely on a regular basis. Full cohorts ventured online - building confidence and competence outside of the classroom using digital resources.

Whilst Zoom is fantastic in the interim, it’s not the most effective long term solution for vocational subjects. Realistic practical task demonstrations become tricky, if not impossible, to do live on a zoom call.

Despite this, the value that students and tutors can still get from connecting online has highlighted that it’s very possible to create valuable learning experiences using digital tools. Particularly in regards to practical assessment.

The future for students

Students live in an online world – they expect to engage in digital learning. They want educators to ‘speak their language’.

The future is in a blended, agile approach to vocational education and assessment. One that combines the practical element of learning a vocation with digital tools to create more rounded learning experiences.

The events of this year have shown that video, in particular, presents the opportunity for students to engage with what they have already learned in order to get better at what they do. It’s enabled tutors to support learners remotely whilst face to face contact wasn’t possible.

Digital tools, and in particular video, opens up an additional level of convenience too. It offers a more flexible way for students to evidence skills and demonstrate competence throughout a course - during a placement for example. For assessors and verifiers, this provides robust and accessible evidence of competence. Absolutely essential when dealing with large cohorts that are dotted around the country!

But let’s go one step further than simply recording videos. Let’s use video to create confident individuals that know how to demonstrate their skill to a high standard.

There are platforms already out there that unlock the potential in video, including our own video tagging and sharing platform, VEO. It’s being using by learners and teachers around the world to demonstrate skills for assessment in the absence of face to face observations.

The future for assessors

Digital tools will make life easier for assessors too. Students on placement can record themselves demonstrating practical skills which gives them a permanent record of what their skills were like at that point in time. It’s also something tangible to share with tutors for feedback on strengths and areas for improvement.

For assessors, this allows for remote observation. Giving assessment feedback through video allows assessors to be much more specific about where a student has and hasn’t met the assessment criteria.

It’s also safer than going between assessment centres and other locations, and saves huge amounts of travel time and expense in the process.  

What do you think the future holds for vocational assessment?

To find out more about VEO and assessment video solutions, visit their website.