Last week, over 1000 assessment industry professionals from practice areas such as Certification/Licensure, Clinical, Educational, Industrial/Organizational and Workforce Skills Credentialing descended on Scottsdale, Arizona to attend the Innovations in Testing Conference presented by the Association of Testing Professionals. The conference was packed with professionals who deal with testing and certification in a variety of industries, and I had the opportunity to meet and mingle, as well as learn about the issues facing the industry.
Continue reading for a few key takeaways:
Since the attendees came from such diverse backgrounds, session topics varied quite a bit. They covered topics from exam and question design, to performance-based testing, to gamification of testing and cheating. I found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the professionals I spoke to that focus on certification in tech had the most in common with the training professionals I encounter on a daily basis. I also had the pleasure of meeting with several Skilljar customers and discussing the certification and testing arms of their programs.
One of the most interesting things I discovered at the conference was the general controversy around merging learning and testing/certification. Many assessment professionals fear that connecting learning and testing will lead to problems with “teaching to the test.” As a training and learning professional myself, I fully understand the concern of unproductive teaching techniques that emerge from this, but in our current world, I’m partial to creating assessments that can in fact be “taught to.” To me that means certification exams should be hyper-relevant, performance-based (when possible) and test real skills and knowledge that students need to know. It’s easy to see, however, how this perspective may vary depending on the type of test and what it is trying to achieve or assess.
The highlight of the conference for me was seeing Skilljar’s own Sandi Lin facilitate a presentation entitled, “From A to Z: How to Deliver Learning, Practice Exams, and Certification Credentials, all from Your LMS.” The session included Ruben Garcia of PSI, an online test proctoring product that integrates with Skilljar, as well as two Skilljar customers. They described the value of integrating certifications with an LMS and went over two specific case studies within Skilljar that demonstrated different ways that this has been done. The session generated excitement throughout the audience and it was clear that this is an innovative approach.
It will be interesting to see how these types of integrations gain popularity among training and certification teams and where these models are most effective. I’ll have to go back next year to get a grasp on how the industry continues to evolve.