These days, everything from bills to books are available digitally, yet many organizations still rely on stacks of paper when it comes to assessments. For organizations that haven’t yet made the switch, here are some of the advantages of going digital:
Assessments delivered digitally can be fairer and more accessible than traditional papers by allowing individuals to take the test from home, whenever best suits their schedule. This flexibility is especially important for those who might struggle to make it to the test center, including those with disabilities or caregiving responsibilities. Allowing everyone to take the assessment in their own home creates a level playing field, eliminating variables like traffic and long, stressful commutes which put test-takers in an anxious frame of mind before an assessment. For organizations concerned about cheating, assessment providers can monitor an individual via a webcam and/or automated technologies.
Providing test-takers with the ability to sit an exam at home using their own computers also offers accessibility benefits for those who use tools such as special input devices or screen readers. The individual is free to use the technology they are most comfortable with, ensuring fairness.
Traditionally, assessments have been delivered at test centers in stressful, one-off occasions. As we move into the 2020s, this paradigm is changing, and digital assessment software is allowing organizations to roll out assessments to the workforce on a more frequent basis. Whereas a candidate having a bad day might face serious consequences if they perform poorly on a traditional assessment, digital assessments provide more frequent data points, and allow test-takers to average out a single poor performance. This improves the validity of the assessment and removes stress for test-takers.
Organizations also stand to benefit from more frequent testing, as it allows them to keep track of employee progress and ensure that their capabilities, knowledge, and certifications are all up to date. In a fast-moving world, frequent testing will enable businesses to evaluate performance and knowledge more closely and identify further opportunities for improvement.
Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important priority for organizations, as part of the global drive to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, learning and assessment materials are often delivered in paper format. Organizations can cut their paper consumption by switching to digital assessments. Digital assessments also offer additional security benefits – if the system is secure and its users adhere to security best practices, it is far harder for unscrupulous individuals to gain access to test content. However, computers also use power and have an environmental impact, so it’s important to note that cutting out paper is only part of the equation.
Far more significant than the paper itself is the environmental impact of travel. Traditional assessments require candidates to make a journey to a test center, usually by car or public transport, which produces significant emissions. Taking the exam from home or workplace removes the need for this travel, and the associated emissions, giving digital assessments the edge over paper.
According to DHL, global connectedness is at a record high. As companies become increasingly globalized and continue to expand into new and emerging markets, many will need to leverage digital assessments in multiple languages to ensure that teams in different geographies are all on the same page. Fortunately, modern assessment technology makes it easy to author assessments in your native language, localize them using a translation management system, and roll them out to anywhere with an internet connection at the click of a button.
As mentioned, digital assessments taken at home might raise some concerns about test fraud, but there’s no need to worry. In fact, digital assessments can help prevent cheating. For example, by randomizing the order of questions for each test-taker, digital assessment software can ensure that test-takers can’t look over their neighbor’s shoulder to see their answers. Digital exams can also cut down on proxy test-taking (where an individual sits an exam on someone else’s behalf) because unlike paper, digital assessment software can ask personalized questions to ensure the test-taker is who they say they are. Finally, digital assessment software – when using a secure cloud system – can make it more difficult to tamper with results after the test.
Overall, there are plenty of reasons to make the switch from paper assessments to digital ones: they are fairer, more sustainable, and more trustworthy. With innovation abound, digital assessments will continue to gain new capabilities and features that allow organizations to unlock their potential.
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