During this digital era, many countries are undergoing a transition from paper-based assessments to electronic assessments to measure student performance in education. New opportunities are emerging (cost reduction, technology-enhanced assessments, adaptive testing, real-time feedback into learning, etc.), which give rise to new challenges (usability, security, equipment, digital divide, etc.).
In this context, similar interests and needs have been observed in a growing number of countries. There is a rising interest in technology-enhanced items, which offer better ways to assess traditional competences, as well as to address 21st century skills and to link assessment feedback closer to learning. There is also an ever-growing need to resort to a robust test delivery platform, which supports very-large-scale assessments” (100,000 students and more).
A collaborative framework
The objective of FLIP Initiative is setting up a community in education assessment in order to:
Share knowledge and experiences in e-assessment
The e-assessment domain is a very specific one, where sharing experiences is a crucial factor to consider in order to move towards robust solutions and to avoid technical setbacks.
Share IT development costs
All technological development bears an underlying cost. Countries and institutions with concrete common interests can only benefit through mutualising resources. Why should different solutions for each institution be financed when one solution could resolve the needs of all institutions?
Share content: toward an item-store
The participating institutions can decide to share item content according to specific copyright, sharing and confidentiality regulations. This idea of sharing content is of particular relevance in the field of language assessment (e.g. English) or for technology-enhanced items, where development costs are higher than that for traditional items.
Two principles: open-source and interoperability
Two important principles are adopted by institutions wishing to participate in the FLIP Initiative:
The open-source source solution is the preferred one, which is driven by the spirit of collaboration. Sharing the source code of the platform and the technological developments should be possible (note that this refers to the source code and not to the item contents themselves, where the participants may choose to keep their proprietary rights or share them in the item-store). This collaborative vision is also a pragmatic one: the objective is a permanent improvement of the digital tools as a result of the activities of the community participants. This policy favouring open-source and backed by many countries when awarding public contracts, for example, avoids the risk of being subject to imposed pricing policies often associated when a specific proprietary solution is chosen.
Interoperability (QTI norm)
The content itself must remain the property of the institutions that created them, who may decide to change the underlying platform if they wish, without additional costs. This implies that the content should not depend on a specific technology that is not exportable to different platforms. The Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) specification of the IMS Global Learning Consortium enables this interoperability (which includes the exchange of item and test content and results data between authoring tools, item banks, test construction tools, learning platforms, assessment delivery systems, and scoring/analytics engines). This ensures that the items may be delivered and used on different platforms without the need to depend on a particular provider.