This week, Mrs Hooley (Assistant Head) guest writes on the Headmistress blog about adaptive and innovative technology in education and how it has many benefits for a personalised learning experience.
This month, the examining board AQA announced that it would be trialling a series of online examination papers for both A Level and GCSE subjects. These are not substitutes for the traditional written papers taken in the Summer but a pilot scheme completed alongside the physical papers to review the use of technology within national qualifications. 100 schools are undertaking papers, which will adapt to student progress and become increasingly more challenging as questions are answered correctly. They will also use elements of artificial intelligence to mark the responses. The Chief Executive of AQA, Colin Hughes, stated that it was ‘only a matter of time’ before online assessments become a reality and that they would ‘help prepare students for future learning and work settings’. It will be fascinating to review their findings and consider the further application of these methods in the future.
It was encouraging to see an examination board outwardly recognising the need to review their approach to using technology to enhance the process for both candidates and examiners. Examining bodies cannot always be as agile as they may wish due to the requirements from JCQ, Ofqual and the Department for Education, so this forward-thinking approach is certainly a pause for thought.
Our approach to using technology for learning at Bedford Girls’ School has always been future focused. We want to ensure our students are ahead of their contemporaries in their use of technology as a flexible and adaptable tool to support outcomes. We want our students to be at the forefront of innovation and stand above other school leavers and graduates when they compete in the job market; to have both the technological confidence and skills that employers will demand. Along with the use of iPads, apps, coded robotics, augmented reality modelling and virtual reality video tours, we have also invested in Adaptive Learning technology. Students in Years 10 and 11 have access to Seneca Learning Platform to trial the effectiveness of personalised revision tools and homework tasks. The application enables students to review work, revise topics and undertake tests to check their knowledge, which becomes progressively more challenging as their answers are correct or tests them in another way on a question they may have answered incorrectly. Teachers can review the responses, look at the data and check the students’ knowledge and understanding. It is an excellent way to encourage active revision for their GCSEs, as well as trialling and gaining experience in the technology, which they will be expected to use in the future.
As educators, we know that a combination of approaches to teaching and learning is essential, combining the use of technology with a variety of other methods provides the best outcomes for our students. Whilst it is perhaps challenging to consider how technology would be adequate substitute for the expertise of professional examiners, particularly in subjects such as English, Philosophy, History and Art, it is vital for our students to consistently become fluent in the skills which reflect their future environments.