Thom Kiddle is Director at NILE in Norwich in the UK, where he is responsible for all teacher training and development operations, and for the NILE Online teacher education courses. He has been a language teacher, teacher trainer and language tester in Portugal, Australia, Thailand, Chile and the UK and presented at conferences around the world. He holds the Cambridge Delta and an MA in Language Testing and his professional interests are language assessment literacy for teachers, technology in language learning, teaching and testing, and online teacher education. He has published on language testing issues in Applied Linguistics, Language Assessment Quarterly and System journals, and wrote the chapter on Digital Language Learning Materials in a recent publication on Materials Development (Bloomsbury 2014). He is also a member of the ELTJ Editorial Review Board and the EAQUALS Professional Development Group.
Topic: Technology in classroom-based assessment: friend or foe?
This session will focus on the empowerment that classroom-based assessment should give teachers, and consider the role of technology within it. Should the technology which pervades many aspects of our lives play an active part in classroom-based assessment, or should we defend ourselves against the digital revolution telling us what and how we value in our students’ language competence? With examples, experiments, and evaluation of principled frameworks, the session will address the question of how and when technology helps or hinders our role as testers and assessors of our students in the classroom, and in the non-classroom contexts which feed into teacher-led assessment.
Video recording of the plenary session
You can watch the full recording of Thom Kiddle’s talk on British Council Russia’s YouTube channel by clicking the link below:
In this interview, Thom talks about some of his highlights from the first day of the conference. He discusses the theme of his talk and expands on his ideas about classroom-based assessment and particularly the integration of a principled approach to using technology in language testing. He also talks about the popularity of the online teacher development courses at NILE.
Watch the interview by clicking this link below:
As part of the interview, Thom also answered some of the questions that were asked online. Here are his answers:
Can teachers use assessment as a way to motivate students to learn? How?
Yes, absolutely. I think that assessment can take many forms, and can be motivating at different points – in the assessment preparation activities which can be light-hearted and student-created; in the mode of delivery of the assessment, which may encourage students to experiment with digital tools they have not previously thought of as being part of their learning; and in the feedback possibilities for the teacher to guide students to see their strengths as well as the areas for improvement.
Are there borders or limits of technology using in the classroom?
Yes, there are important considerations when using technology in the classroom and they will be pedagogical as well as technical. Some writers have commented that technology use in the classroom must be because we should, rather than because we can, and I think this implies pedagogical limits.
With all this technology, don't you sometimes miss good old pen and paper?
I would never get rid of good old pen and paper! I prefer note-taking with a pen, for example, and highlighting when I am reading. I don't miss writing long texts by hand though. I think there is a place for both.
Do you think technology can encourage learners to develop more positive attitude to tests?
Yes, I think that is a potential advantage – though it isn't automatic, or to be assumed without evaluating. I think there are platforms, interaction types and tools which can be used for assessment (though not necessarily all for testing), which can make learners view the process as a less stressful experience. However, it can also have the opposite effect. In a study I carried out in 2010, test takers were less satisfied with their oral performance on a computer-based speaking test than when doing the same task face-to-face with an examiner – even though they were given the same grade.