Guest Post: Together apart in 2020 – How the ALT community helped us raise awareness about the importance of effectiveness in the transition to digital exams, accessibility and inclusion

This year everything went online. Almost overnight, conferences turned into webinars, exhibition hall stands into virtual booths, and casual chats during coffee breaks turned into not-so-casual chats in online networking lounges. However, one thing remained the same – our passion at Inspera to talk about the benefits of digital exams with educators such as yourselves. People who are committed to achieving and maintaining teaching and learning excellence, and working closely with your colleagues and students to make the best out of the use of technology, in whatever the crisis. In 2020, coming together while staying apart, we have been dialling in from all corners of the world to exchange valuable lessons learned about the effective transition to online assessment and solving problems as a community.

Inspera and the #ALT-C community

In August 2020, we were proud to sponsor the ALT Online Summer Summit. We were very impressed by the various voices of the ALT community, in what truly has been the time of crisis, care and complexity, as the conference theme highlighted. Our contribution to the programme was the 20-minute webinar ‘Getting started with digital exams: Evangelism strategies for Learning Technologists’, which you can now watch on-demand. In this webinar, I’m sharing some of the best practices we learned from our trusted partners in higher education. The webinar explores how Learning Technologists can make all the difference when it comes to maximising the pedagogical impact of digital exams adoption, also in remote exams scenario we are having now. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Inspired by the conversations we had at the ALT Summer Summit, we decided to continue our engagement with ALT membership and sponsor the upcoming ALT Online Winter Conference 2020, and the session on ‘Accessibility and inclusion’. While we hope to see you there, I’d already like to share Inspera’s philosophy when it comes to the important topic of accessibility.

Accessibility by design – education for everyone

At Inspera, we believe in accessibility by design. Usability is about making software that is easy to use. Accessibility is about making it easy to use by everyone. One of the many benefits of digital transformation in education is making this deeply human experience fairer for all types of learners.

Imagine, for example, on exam day, when all learners submit their answers on-screen and typed, rather than on paper – the answers of those normally with permission to type only due to a disability or medical condition would then be entirely indistinguishable, in both delivery and marking. What then happens is that more learners can take exams alongside their peers, and that is what the inclusion is all about. No more stigma of “special” treatment that is so often vocalised by both affected learners and their educators. By removing such barriers between learners, the experience of education is radically changed, for the better.

From advocacy to industry standards in design

Universal access is critical to our mission of making educational assessment more inclusive, fair, and relevant to the 21st century. With our ongoing commitment to Accessibility by Design, however, achieving universal access compliance standards is just the foundation. From functionalities, such as individual access arrangements, our UX researchers and designers continuously innovate to deliver assessments not only accessible to all, but better for all.

For us, accessibility and universal access is a matter of mindset. It is not only about making our product accessible to all; it is also about making it better for everyone. When planning digital transformation as an education provider, the adoption rates among learners and staff are one of the main concerns, and that is an area where accessibility by design is sure to make an important impact. To ensure our solution adapts to the diverse and evolving user needs in learning inclusion, we are meeting all requirements and regulations in relation to the WCAG technical standards.

The four basic principles of WCAG, namely perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, are reflected in the online environment where learners are creating their exam submissions. Meeting the WCAG code standards is done by following Inspera’s accessibility test routine, which consists of following the semantic markup standards, checking keyboard accessibility, testing various operating system’s screen readers, and using development dependencies to notify possible accessibility issues.

Technology is a powerful sidekick. Feel free to reach out to us if you would like to know more about how Inspera Assessment can help you and your learners achieve equal opportunities in e-assessments – education for everyone! Good luck with your examinations, and we look forward to seeing you soon at the ALT Winter Conference.

 

By Anja Sisarica, Inspera