Organization of examinations and e-assessment in the context of distance learning: Estonian and other country experiences

19 May 2020

Given a shift to remote learning in many countries in the world due to COVID-19 pandemic, a key challenge faced by the policy/decision makers is how to manage assessments and organize examinations, particularly high-stakes exams.

In this context, on 15 May 2020, UNESCO Almaty convened the second in the webinar series on education sector response to COVID-19 in Central Asian countries, with a focus on online learning and assessment of online learning including high-stakes examinations during the prolonged course of school closures.

Mr. Tigran Yepoyan, Regional Advisor on Education and Health at UNESCO International Institute for Technology in Education (UNESCO-IITE), provided a brief overview of coping strategies adopted by different countries to manage high-stakes exams during the crisis, including organizing exams with special arrangements, cancellation, postponement/rescheduling, going on-line (on-line assessment), and introducing alternative approaches to exams and validation of online learning.

Dr. Mart Laanpere, Senior Researcher of the Centre for Educational Technology at Tallinn University (Estonia), delivered a keynote presentation on E-assessment in the context of distance learning: methodology and technical solutions, providing a snapshot of assessment modalities - formative, summative, diagnostic and online assessments. The presentation encompassed conceptual framework along with the practical examples from Estonias experience. It was clear from the Estonian experiences that transition to online/distance learning requires time and long practice, with clear supporting mechanisms to be effective.

Dr. Mart Laanpere UNESCO Almaty

For example, in terms of assessments, most Estonian schools have hired an educational technologist who supports teachers in using technology for learning. Training for educational technologists has been provided by Tallinn University since 2001.

A discussion and exchange of country experiences followed after the two main presentations. There were specific country interventions by participating ministries from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Moldova.

In addition to the Ministries of Education, the meeting was also attended by representatives from academia, different education institutions and schools from four countries in Central Asia as well as representatives of the UN organizations.

Following the discussions, it was clear that there is no one size fits all solution in organizing examinations and assessments, every country and institution adjusts them based on the needs of learners and adopts different coping strategies with regard to them. In this regard, UNESCOs recommendations on organization of assessments and examinations, is available here: Guidance_eng.pdf 

The recording of the webinar is available here.

For more information about the previous webinar:
The Vice Ministers of Education in the Central Asian countries agreed on common challenges in distance learning
education transforms lives
sustainable development
ICT in Education

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