Assessment for the 21st Century
Assessment should not about assessing readiness to compete with other nations as much as it could be about creativity and the process of solving complex problems. Ian Jukes keynote (November 2012) confirmed my thought that careers based on repetitive behaviors or semantic responses can be reduced to a set of algorithms and “outsourced”. As we move into the semantic web, we are already seeing semantic algorithms that respond with specific ads based on user searchers. (Enter Scotty Vest and see how that follows you like a bad stalker). Automation through robotics, insta-tellers and automated check-outs are but a few things that have replaced human capital. We will need a society whose skills are not quantified by a computerized multiple-choice test. Essays will soon be marked by computers. So what next?
The multiple-choice test is not appropriate to prepare lifelong learners for the 21st century where the needs of tomorrow perpetually bleed into today. The assessment of an accumulation of a set of random facts without an application no longer reflects the needs of 21st century. Granted we are in the Age of Information where the internet is growing exponentially. The information is available to all. Developing and emerging economies with large populations will always provide more affordable labour for outsourced employment than industrialized nations. Consider William, a young boy, who accessed public memory housed in textbooks and created a windmill for his village. http://www.williamkamkwamba.typepad.com/ ). Continuing to assess learning with series of multiple choice tests puts us on the same playing field as some developing countries that have cheaper mobile access to the internet than Canadians. If we are responsible for preparing students for an economy that relies on outsourcing, then yes, use the multiple-choice test for a year end exam.