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Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) yesterday signalled the imminent end of the conventional paper-and-pen exam when he predicted that all youngsters could be taking their national tests, GCSE and A-level exams on screen at a computer in just five years' time. Boston claims that as well as responding to "tick box" questions, students will be guided through interactive problems. It has even been suggested that students could even be asked questions about coursework from home using mobile phones.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3574951.stm

What do people think about this idea?

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Guest Adrian Dingle

In five years? No chance.

Like the idea in principle though, clearly there would be a mountain of logistics/concerns/teething problems to get through, but once that was done I would think that this is the future.

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What do people think about this idea?

In five years? No chance! I have been involved in the DIALANG project, which has resulted in the development of online diagnostic tests for language learners, geared to the Common European Framework for Languages:

http://www.dialang.org

The project has eaten up a lot of European taxpayers' money and the tests are not at all bad. However, only the three skills of reading, writing and listening are tested online. Testing speaking is fraught with problems. If the QCA are willing to learn from the DIALANG team they may stand a better chance of implementing their plans.

Skills-based subjects, such as Languages, Art and Music are notoriously difficult to assess online. See the ICT4LT Module 4.1, which deals with computer aided assessment of language skills and its limitations:

http://www.ict4lt.org/en/en_mod4-1.htm

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