Please turn over your iPad and start your examination now…
Posted by Rob Holtom
March 11th 2011 at 10:00
Should pen and paper be consigned to the dustbin where tests are concerned? Rob wonders what the future of exams will be…
Isabel Nisbet, Head of the England’s exam watchdog Ofqual, argues that students should take computerised tests, and that the examination system risks being left behind if it doesn’t keep up with new technology.
The rationale is as follows: children are increasingly techno-savvy, using computers to explore, communicate and entertain themselves. Classrooms are buzzing with technology, with interactive whiteboards and PCs on every desk. Some schools are even providing students with tablet computers to take notes during lessons.
Even before they start formal education, many kids are growing up immersed in technology. My three-year-old can’t write her own name, but she knows how to operate an iPhone and navigate a web browser to get to her favourite kids TV site. And, when she does (eventually) complete her education, it’s almost inevitable that her job will involve using computers every day. Why should the qualifications she needs to get that job be granted based on her ability to master an entirely different medium, ink on paper?
Is it the end for essays?
But are we too quick to dump the tried and tested ways? Writing is typically slower than typing, giving pupils more time to think and consider their argument in an essay, for instance. And could those who don’t have access to the latest – expensive – technology at home be at a further disadvantage in the examination hall?
Joanna Lumley recently weighed in to the argument, claiming “I think laptops should be banned from schools. Until you can prove you can add up on your fingers or think independently in your head, you have learnt nothing.”
Despite her protests, it seems inevitable that exams, like education as a whole, need to get with the times. Let’s hope in the process we don’t leave those already disadvantaged behind.
What do you think? Should exams be computerised?
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