Assessment 3.0: A Framework for the Future | Jack George
In September 2023 Aiglon College in Switzerland will begin to trial School 3.0, which is a conceptual framework designed to align their educational provision and, in turn, vision with the enormous changes for the education sector that many believe to be on the horizon. The concept of School 3.0 leverages holistic reporting, artificial intelligence, blockchain and soul bound tokens (NFTs) to construct the foundations of what will become the schools of tomorrow. More details on School 3.0 can be found here.
The potential efficacy of the model below is currently being researched and is a vision to be explored rather than a definitive direction to be taken.
Assessment of Knowledge Transfer
Ongoing and continuous assessment of knowledge acquisition has been possible for a number of years through question banks that conclude presentations of content. Countless online services already do this and there is healthy crossover between this concept and traditional multiple choice exams, which, although limited, often assess recall and comprehension relatively accurately. However, it is only now that the ingenuity of infinite reformulative questioning is possible through leaps forward in AI. Based on content presented, educators are now able to infinitely remodel questions so as to ensure that gaps in knowledge are closed and, indeed, watertight. In the same way, an individual, human, or personal tutor can intuitively reword a question on significant events in the Civil Rights Movement 1960s America multiple times so as to stress test understanding ahead of an IGCSE exam; AI can do the same an infinite amount of times. At the same time, however, it can track the rate of acquisition through correct questions answered and, finally, grade the depth of learning within a given time period.
If, however, AI is able to intricately piece together curriculum content like a robot performing microsurgery in a student’s brain, how can we assess and, essentially, compare students so as to facilitate transition into tomorrow’s society? One answer could be that AI would constantly and gradually increase the rigour of assessment until students reach their ‘ceiling of aptitude’ in which knowledge and skills acquisition slows to a gradual halt given the limit of the student’s natural ability. Time parameters and proof of personhood are of course needed here so as to ensure that the system is robust, that the learner is who they say they are and that time dedicated does not equal academic progress. In essence, a student’s end of term report could one day include an AI-assessed knowledge acquisition section that demonstrates the student’s percentage of demonstrated course content understood, whether they approached, reached or surpassed the required ‘ceiling of aptitude’ and the timescale in which this happened.
That being said, if AI can act as an individual personal tutor, does this cause a devaluation of this kind of contextualised knowledge and, if so, where does the value reattach elsewhere?
Application of Knowledge and Competencies
Alongside the ebbs and flows of live knowledge acquisition tracking there would need to be an accurate assessment of the application of these competencies so as to validate that learning is indeed of worth in the modern world. Medium-term real-world projects (i.e. those that last one term) would be established between subjects and these would allow students to contextualise the competencies and content acquired through AI knowledge acquisition to real-world problems. For instance, a global health outreach project could tie together disease in Biology, treatments in Chemistry, distribution of health challenges in Geography, statistics in Mathematics and supply chains in Business Studies. Students would have the option to present their findings in either timed essay or viva form and assessed questions would be put forward by the teacher so as to ensure that gaps in knowledge have been filled. Finally, the grades acquired from these would hold equal weighting to the AI knowledge transfer assessment previously mentioned.
Autonomous Agents - Bringing it Together
An individualised smart assistant that can monitor, connect, and make decisions and recommendations based upon every element of a student’s life at school is a reality within reach in the coming years. Academic autonomous agents (or AI personal tutors) will help the sector to move away from the considerable limitations of storing different parts of a student’s profile in silos across multiple platforms. Imagine a digital assistant that knows exactly where students’ difficulties lie but that can in turn make considerations based on the school calendar, pastoral observations and students’ self-reflection so as to recommend how, when and the duration of study that evening so as to maximise progress versus wellbeing. These autonomous agents could even monitor slight changes in performance or motivation and therefore flag anomalies to human personal tutors for discussion in weekly meetings, therefore acting as a digital safety net so as to support the experienced professionals.
Through autonomous agents constantly monitoring the academic, character-based and pastoral journeys of students, live reporting would be possible at any point in the school year for the students themselves, parents, university counsellors and even, with careful monitoring, potential employers. A large language model could even create a written report on any aspect of a student’s school life from algebra to tennis in an instant with the only teacher intervention being validation and consequent authorisation. Of course, questions of privacy would need to be addressed at every stage of development but there is at least potential for these services to exist within the ethical and data protection-related parameters of each educational establishment. In short, live, personalised and individual feedback would inform teachers of current progress in far more depth than current tracking methods, which would in turn allow proactive rather than reactive academic and pastoral support for these students who live in a world of instantaneity.
There has never been a more exciting time to be in education. We as schools need to embrace AI whilst celebrating what it is to be human.
Read Jack’s other article for Outstanding Schools ‘The Future of Education Lies in Simple Building Blocks and Vending Machines’ here.