The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and the virus has now spread to many countries and territories. Today, children and young people are global citizens, powerful agents of change and the next generation of caregivers, scientists, and doctors. As we know, any crisis presents the opportunity to help them learn, cultivate compassion, and increase resilience while building a safer and more caring community.
According to UNESCO, governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been a total of 1.5 billion affected learners and 143 country-wide closures. These nationwide closures are impacting over 60% of the world’s student population. Several other countries have implemented localized closures impacting millions of additional learners.
As part of the learning and assessment framework for the K12 and higher education community, the adoption of technology has become imperative. Some of the factors to be considered are:
- Inclusive learning
Technology is enabling ubiquitous access and personalization of education even in the remotest parts of the world. This can change the schooling system and increase the effectiveness of learning and teaching, giving students and teachers multiple options to choose from.
- Integrated assessments
It is also important to reconsider the current delivery and pedagogical methods in school and higher education by replacing the conventional learning with e- learning, and seamlessly integrating the same with online assessments so as to build a unified learning system.
- Capacity building
In this time of crisis, a well-rounded and effective educational practice is what is needed for the capacity-building of young minds. It will develop skills that will drive their employability, productivity, health, and well-being in the decades to come, and ensure the overall progress of the future generation.
The future is all about having an integrated approach towards learning and assessment eco system:
As the pandemic goes unabated its recommended to seriously adopt to the technologies that can provide safety and security to the students besides protecting the sanctity of the educational eco system. Some of the suggested technology framework for quick adoption include the following:
- Implementation of technology platform nationwide
- Making sure the IT infrastructure is scaled up quickly to meet the demands
- To ensure adoption of mobile based technologies for ease of use
All over the world, many countries have quickly jumped into the new bandwagon of technology adoption for learning, assessments, skills enhancements and providing seamless access to all the stake holders viz., the academic administrators, faculties, students, and parents as well. One such instance is India where technology adoption has been on a higher scale and has picked up momentum post COVID by swiftly moving towards online mode of content delivery, online assessments and online proctoring and online certification, etc.
The technology enables the universities and school boards to ensure fool proof Question paper delivery (thus avoiding QP leakage), secured exam conduction by addressing impersonation, scams during the examination processes, digital marking of answer scripts (called On Screen Marking) and allowing students to take exams in a distributed environment in a secured manner.
In addition to this, the technology allows the students to use mobile apps extensively that makes the data available on demand and making the whole process a unique experience to all the stake holders. The current trend of making the technology cloud enabled makes the whole examination process ubiquitous. Technologies are available with data encryption and compliant with globally accepted GDPR compliances as well.
GTU - Gujarat Technological University, in India, is a well-known technical university that has adopted to technology for digitally marking the answer scripts of the students. They have been using the technology over the last 7 years which has resulted in enormous savings on the time and resources besides protecting their brand reputation by avoiding exam related challenges.
Few other universities such as Mumbai University, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences and Amity University are some of the others who have successfully implemented the technology for managing their examination processes.
On Screen Marking (OSM) system has transformed the entire examination management process for these universities and resulted in the following benefits.
- Reduced evaluation time by 70 percent and quicker results declaration
- Candidates have access to evaluated answer scripts, making the process more transparent
- Significant reduction in costs and greater efficiency in all examination management services for the clients
It is heartening to note that leveraging on innovative online assessment platform allows any examination conducting bodies to conduct and manage the examinations from anywhere and anytime in a distributed environment.
To avoid a complete breakdown of the learning process, schools, colleges, institutes, universities, and even coaching centers have launched online classes, examinations, and assessments to ensure continuity in curriculum and seamless resumption of all activities post COVID-19. Its highly recommended that Ministry of Education, Govt of Uganda takes necessary steps for technology adoption in view of the global pandemic that has crippled the normal lives of people. Its time for us to adopt to the “New Normal” which is technology adoption.