With more than 7 million students dropping out of the Indian public education system, it is impossible for conventional smart school systems (school assessments and learning environment) to reduce the learning gaps. Currently, there is a gap of more than 20% between the literacy rates of people from the tribal region, and the rest of the country, pointing towards the urgent need for a paradigm shift for teachers: from being a Sage on the Stage, burdened by administrative tasks, to being empowered to focus on strategic learning outcomes by freeing them from administrative burden. (Source: Tag Hive Blogs)
And one of the smartest ways to do this is through effective tech adoption! While COVID has accelerated tech adoption across sectors, including education, ranging from AI-driven STEM learning to online learning and assessments, the use of technology in daily student-teacher engagement still needs to be explored.
One of the earliest forms of mass education evolved in the early 18th century and focused on providing public education for all. This primarily focused on ‘grouping’ the learning experience to a one size fits all approach, assuming all children need to learn at the same pace, and left little room for personalization. Ones who could not keep up either dropped out or were left behind to try again in the same mass learning and assessment format. This widely accepted model promoted passive learning and emphasised ‘examinations’ as a decisive factor for one’s self-worth, thus promoting rote learning. Classroom engagement, questioning and debates were discouraged, stifling curiosity and innovation. This also made education an impersonal experience for students and teachers.
However, in the digital era and the times of global economies, the need of the hour is an educational approach that not only encourages innovation and thinking but also helps teachers to identify and nurture individual strengths. And tech-enabled assessments are helping create an environment where teachers can not only evaluate a child’s learning progress but also create a data-driven, focused learning program for children based on their performance. To make this accessible and impact a wider audience, however, a technology infrastructure that is not entirely dependent on electricity and internet penetration would be the key.
Some of the key benefits of a tech-enabled assessment system for school education are listed below:
- Empowering teachers with data-driven feedback
Tech-enabled assessment tools are mostly based on students answering MCQ-based questions on an electronic device which then collects the data and assesses students based on the answers they have entered electronically. While this reduces the burden of assessment on the teachers, the device/assessment methodology also provides data-backed insights into individual student performances, comparing past scores and thus helps identify learning gaps or challenges. This individualised data helps teachers gain valuable insights about a student’s performance graph, understanding of a subject, and learning challenges if any, most of which can then be addressed systematically. This helps teachers to curate effective learning strategies while creating an impactful learning environment for every student.
- Empowers students to learn and self-assess, out of class
With electronic assessment tools, including web-based assessments and portable devices, it is possible for students to take multiple mock tests at home and gain insights into their own performance. Tech-enabled self-assessment allows students access to the same insights that a teacher would, except for multiple mock tests, a student can have the opportunity to identity and improve on their own and thus perform better at the actual exams. It also aids better understanding and course correction on an individual level, thus empowering students to perform better.
- Allowing in-classroom learning to be more engaging
Tech-enabled, electronic assessments allow instant results of a test. When conducted in a classroom, the assessment results are instantly shared on the device for each student, and the answers are then discussed in class, giving students instant feedback and allowing them to understand their patterns, understanding of a subject, and challenges better. Driven by data-led insights, it also allows teachers to be more relevant to students when giving feedback, thus enhancing engagement and better learning experience in the classroom for students.
- Reduces the administrative burden of teachers
Conventional examination formats put a lot of responsibility on teachers to correct the written papers, which often led them to spend extra time after school or at home. In addition to the other administrative tasks, assessments take up a lot of time and effort, which could otherwise have been used to develop teaching techniques, doing research or working on course materials, which could actually benefit students. With tech-enabled assessments, results are instantly generated, cutting out large chunks of administrative load on teachers and thus enables them to add value to the learning experience.
- Transforming the concept of assessment to be focused on understanding rather than rote learning
Lastly, tech-enabled assessments help enhance the focus on student understanding while creating more meaningful learning experiences through data-driven insights. The process also helps reduce the overwhelming pressure and anxiety around examinations and shifts the paradigm from rote learning to understanding. The instant feedback helps bring a constructive direction for students, thereby transforming not just the assessment process but also the overall learning experience for both the student and the teachers.
To conclude, while tech adoption across various fields of education is vastly catching up, the core of the learning process that revolves around student evaluations needs to be made effective. And for technology to make a wide-scale impact, it is imperative for it to be accessible, affordable, agile and user-friendly, breaking barriers of geography, language, age and access to facilities of modern living. Unless the core of learning can be transformed on a mass scale, tech-enabled learning will not be a true success.