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Planning education in a global digital context

author:Richard Thornton NZQA

So that we can continue to meet the needs of 21st century students, NZQA is asking questions about how students will be learning in the decades to come and what assessment will look like at secondary school and beyond.

The points raised by Terry Crooks are good ones. NZQA agrees that there is a lot we need to think about when it comes to increasing the use of digital assessment for NCEA.

That is why we have been implementing our Future State programme of work. It’s all about finding out what we need to do to be responsive to the global, digital and connected environment that students are living in, and to ensure that New Zealand qualifications remain credible and relevant in an increasingly borderless, global environment.

The current generation is comfortable using technology – in fact those under 12 have never known a world beyond the digital one. If students are living and learning in a world where technology is always at their fingertips in one way or another, then it makes sense that today’s (and tomorrow’s) students should also be assessed using technology that they are familiar with, in a digital environment. 

By 2020, NZQA envisages offering a wide range of digital assessment.

Clearly, this won’t be realised overnight but NZQA has been trialling new processes and technologies with schools so that we can understand more about what works and what might be possible.

We are currently undertaking a series of school visits and presentations to engage with schools about the way in which technology is changing teaching and learning, and also to tell NZQA’s story about the increasing use of technology in assessment. We’ve produced three documentarieswith schools to help tell this story and these can be viewed on our website or our YouTube channel.

NZQA is looking to introduce the use of technology in external assessment (end-of-year exams), as appropriate, to better reflect and enhance what is happening in teaching and learning.

Already, there are many schools who are themselves assessing students digitally and submitting assessment to NZQA digitally.

This year we’re also running a trial of a computer-based maths assessment that will give us a much better understanding of how digital assessment works and give schools a chance to experience and test it themselves. More than 230 schools and around 13,000 students have asked to take part and 52% of schools are involved in at least one of the trials. We’re delighted with the response from schools and that so many want to participate.

We’re also offering online papers in the end-of-year exams to students who are entitled to the assistance of a reader/writer (as part of their Special Assessment Conditions), and are experienced using a keyboard.

We are working closely with schools and are taking a managed and measured approach that is ‘opt in’ and considers school and student readiness to move into a digital environment.

We will at all times ensure the robustness of NCEA assessment.

Innovation at NZQA is part of our collective strategic and daily thinking – meeting the needs of students in a constantly evolving, digital age, is our challenge and it is one NZQA is endeavouring to respond to.

We have added a large amount of information to the area of our website dedicated to innovation and assessment trials we are undertaking. I encourage you to have a look at the work we’ve been doing and please do provide your feedback and thoughts on our Future State programme of work.

Richard Thornton
Deputy Chief Executive Digital Transformation
NZQA  August 2015 2012