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Home » Education Technology » How technology can challenge the possibilities for schools and learners

Les Hopper

Product Director, Pearson

Hayley White

Assessment Director, Pearson

If knowledge is power, then insights and data are supercharging transformations in learning and assessment.

We’ve returned to brick-and-mortar classrooms and exam halls, but our relationship with edtech is forever changed. As aspirations and expectations rightly grow around what edtech can do, it’s insights from schools and technology that are crucial in challenging what’s possible. 

Exams onscreen, not on paper  

Already, these insights are changing how exams work. Approximately 65% of teachers and school leaders in a 2021 Pearson survey said they’d be interested in adopting onscreen exams in the next four years if they were available. So, we’re making the hypothetical a reality. 
Building on extensive research, trials and our onscreen mocks service, this is the second year that thousands of students will take onscreen Pearson Edexcel GCSE and International GCSE exams. Going beyond moving exams to a device, the onscreen platform also enables students to personalise their exam experience — from accessibility options and customising the formatting to a choice of tools for planning and reviewing answers.  

It gives time back for teachers, time for them to put more emphasis onto their planning of learning and planning of individualised needs.

Wayne Ridgway, Headteacher of Senior School at the British School of Bahrain, explains: “It’s been a fantastic experience for us as a school, but also for our students who were absolutely delighted to work in a way that they felt most comfortable with.” 

Exams should reflect technology young people are familiar with and will use in the future, with feedback from our GCSE (9–1) Computer Science students saying that our onscreen coding exam “makes sense … It’s a lot closer to a real-world scenario working as a software developer and tests your problem-solving skills.” 

Making data, assessments and insights work harder   

Alongside providing results, our exam services also offer teachers data analysis pinpointing students’ strengths and areas for improvement. The power of such insights to enrich progress should be available at every stage of learning.

That’s why we launched a new data-driven digital service this year: ActiveHub. Bringing together assessments, independent practice and data insights in one place, the platform is underpinned by an Insights Dashboard that teachers can use to see results, analysis and trends. 

 Comparing ActiveHub’s Insights Dashboard to what schools have been using historically, Nicky Crum, Science Improvement Lead at STAR Academies Trust, says:  “There’s so much you can gauge. It’s not just a number from a test. This is down to actual detail of knowledge gaps … It gives time back for teachers, time for them to put more emphasis onto their planning of learning and planning of individualised needs.”  

Alongside benefits for teacher workload, such technologies can support teachers in personalising learning and intervention. Based on students’ results, ActiveHub also suggests next steps, which teachers can use to guide student progress based on what they know will work best. What’s more, student-facing views of the results and feedback mean students can understand how they’re doing and feel empowered to take an even more active role in their learning. 

Taking these insights further  

By harnessing edtech and insights, we, as an education community, can personalise learning and assessment like never before. We can work together to break down barriers to technology access in all its forms — from inclusive design to tackling the digital divide.  

The result: every student can experience a learning and assessment journey that’s as unique as they are. Here’s to continuing the conversation as we seek to shape our ever-changing relationship with edtech for the better.  

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