Online Learning and e-Assessment: The Only Way to Ensure Continuity in Learning

Over the last few months, as the COVID 19 pandemic took the world hostage, it brought almost everything to a grinding halt. This impacted businesses in almost all sectors negatively worldwide, but it has also given a push to EdTech companies simultaneously, due to the school and university closures.

Karan Gupta, Co-founder, AssessPrep

Imparting education digitally must also be facilitated with robust e-assessment or digital assessment solutions. Mr. Karan Gupta, Co-founder at AssessPrep shares his insight on e-assessment and how AssessPrep is changing the e-assessment landscape through its assessment platforms.

Read is what he has to say.

Tell us about AssessPrep and how it is transforming the examination processes through its e-assessment platforms.

AssessPrep is an advanced, end to end e-assessment platform which makes the examination process completely digital. It is designed for schools to make a smooth transition from pen and paper to next-generation digital assessments. AssessPrep has helped more than 400 schools conduct remote assessments across 65 countries over the last few months during the COVID-19 induced school shutdown. 

To make assessments efficient and improve learning outcomes for students, AssessPrep can be used for low-stakes, formative assessments, as well as high-stakes assessments (lockdown mode) for all curricula. This comprehensive platform facilitates the creation of rich interactive assessments, robust and secure test-taking, efficient monitoring/proctoring as well as grading including annotations on uploaded handwritten answers. It is also integrated with Managebac which is the leading learning management system being used in more than 3000 international schools worldwide. The platform is growing swiftly and is helping transform the way assessments are conducted worldwide. 

The ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic while has negatively impacted businesses, it has given a push to the education technology companies. How has it impacted AssessPrep?

During this period of pandemic, AssessPrep has already helped more than 400 schools conduct assessments remotely across 65 countries and in the process has achieved a record-breaking growth rate of about 400%. 

We believe that the education system in India and around the world is witnessing a paradigm shift and this pandemic has accelerated the digitization process. With innovation at its core, the company expects to maintain this growth momentum even after the pandemic is over. Our core focus has been on building a world-class platform that allows schools to efficiently and effectively assess their students anywhere during these unprecedented times. This growth in the numbers is a testimony to the fact that now schools are prepared and willing to invest in technology that ensures quality education for their students.

The parents are still not comfortable sending their kids to schools and colleges and are in the opinion that schools and academic institutions should not reopen. How are online learning and e-assessments impacting the students, teachers, and parents?

There is indeed a conflict between choosing a student’s physical well-being due to the pandemic and the disruption in education which may result in a “zero academic year”. Online learning and e-Assessments offer the only way to ensure continuity in learning during these unprecedented times. Even though excessive use of technology and lack of a stimulating physical and social environment is a huge concern, online education and assessment do come with their share of advantages that prepare students, teachers as well as parents for a rapidly digitizing 21st century.

The sudden shift from classroom-based learning to remote online classes has precipitated swift adaptation from all stakeholders, who have responded to this unprecedented crisis with utmost optimism and fortitude. 

Despite being confined to the 4 walls of their homes and being completely devoid of physical social interaction, students have been attending classes online. There are no more backbenchers any longer, every student has a front-row seat to learning and students are now becoming co-participants and are taking ownership of their learning which is an extraordinary benefit of remote learning. 

This has been made possible with the efforts of the teachers as well as parents, who have broken out of their comfort zones and have ensured that their children or students receive continuous care, attention, and education. Teachers are upskilling themselves to become more tech-savvy while adapting to this new social reality and parents are becoming equal partners in their children’s education, attending online classes, contributing their insights, and providing the necessary support to them. 

The pandemic has allowed us to rethink education as well as the relationship between students, teachers, and parents. It is transforming the Indian education system into one that is more resilient and ready to reap the benefits of digital content delivery, learning, and assessment.

In your opinion, how is this digital learning and e-assessments going to impact higher education and research? Any plan to foray into catering to the higher education market?

As we are moving towards a rapidly digitalizing world, the skills and knowledge needed to stay relevant have changed tremendously in the last decade, and more so in the last few months. Digital learning and e-assessments prepare the students for this new reality, not only in schools but also in institutes of higher education and research. In the age of artificial intelligence, automation, and big data analytics, digital learning helps students upskill with ease. Online education is the panacea that can transform India’s workforce into a truly productive, healthy, and entrepreneurial workforce. 

With several startups introducing online courses for new-age technologies and skills such as machine learning, programming, digital marketing, website development, etc., next-generation education has been made affordable and accessible even for students in remote locations of the country. Higher learning accessibility is no more restricted to the wealthy. Digital learning offers students from all sections of the society quality content, doubt clearing sessions, live interactive classes, preparation plans as well as mock tests for competitive exams. 

The Indian higher education system is going through a rapid transformation with the government taking the initiative of conducting entrance as well as final examinations online remotely in several universities and colleges. E-assessments offer tremendous benefits in this regard, which include but are not limited to secure and robust assessment, interactive and gamified learning, personalised learning, reducing administrative costs, as well as providing analytical insights into each individual’s strengths. 

Today, the U.S A. and many European nations have been able to become the centers of innovation because of widespread acceptance of e-learning and e-assessments, especially in institutions of higher learning and research, India must also catch up by wholeheartedly welcoming this transition and reaping the benefits that digital education provides.

We are currently catering only to the K-12 space, but we have plans of expanding the reach of our services and products to the higher education space as early as Q3 of 2021. 

Digital learning and education is still a distant dream for millions of students from the underprivileged and underserved section of society. How do you plan to cater to this segment?

The pandemic induced schools shutdown led to the shifting of classes online overnight. In a developing country like India, this indeed widened the digital divide in an already highly stratified society. This has been a big blow to the education of underprivileged children who can not afford laptops and stable internet connectivity. The lack of digital access is leading to a struggle for millions of students who do not have access to smartphones, the internet, or laptops. But this is only one side of the picture. We have also come a long way in terms of accessibility in the last few years. With the easy availability of cheap internet access as well as smartphones even in the most remote locations and the launching of free DTH channels as well as MOOCs by the government, India has been able to face this tremendous crisis quite elegantly considering its socio-economic parameters.

We are developing our lockdown test-taking and learning application which can run completely offline and does not require continuous internet connectivity. Also, we have redesigned our platform to ensure that it works on any device including even the most basic of smartphones. We are also catering to hundreds of EWS students spread across the multiple Indian schools that are our customers. We intend to provide quality resources at economic prices not just for India but also for other low-income countries. We are already catering to several schools in countries of Africa as well as Asia. More needs to be done, and in this regard, we hope to expand our social outreach programs shortly.

What are your growth plans for AssessPrep?

We expect to cater to a thousand schools worldwide by Q2 of 2021, working with approximately 3 lakh students and conducting at least 3-5 million assessments on our platform in the coming year. We plan to keep up this momentum in the product as well as service enhancement through cutting edge innovation to stay ahead of our competition always. We are looking to expand our reach in the international market where the majority of our customer schools are currently based and also in the Indian market where we hope to lead the transformation from pen and paper-based assessments to the next generation digital assessments.

The medium-term, as well as the long term potential of the EdTech sector, is at an all time high and we hope to rise with this wave and in the process fulfill the dream of transforming the education sector, a dream which led to the very conception of our company. Our goal is to change the viewpoint of all stakeholders in the education sector and help them embrace and reap the benefits of digital content delivery as well as assessments.

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