CRADLE International Symposium 2023 – Open Panel 2 Review

What is the role of the digital in authenticity of assessment?

Reviewed by Chad Gladovic

Chaired by Professor Rola Ajjawi, the symposium, ‘Re-orienting authentic assessment for an unknown future‘, seeked to trouble superficial and instrumental practices of authentic assessment, re-orienting it towards the increasingly uncertain future. The symposium was opened on 13 October with a keynote by Professor Crina Damşa. The symposium included two open panel sessions. The second session was held on Tuesday 17 October and asked what is the role of the digital in authenticity of assessment? In this post CRADLE PhD student Chad Gladovic reviews the panel session.


We had the privilege of having extraordinary panel members discussing ‘the role of the digital in authentic assessment’. The session began with an important reminder that we are not merely on the brink of the digital age but well within it. As our world continues to be powered by data and artificial intelligence becomes increasingly embedded in our daily lives, we cannot help but wonder why, despite this widespread influence, so little emphasis has been placed on the digital in authentic assessment.

Professor Crina Damşa set the scene, discussing the true nature of digital technology within the educational environment. She demonstrated that the digital landscape is not merely about gadgets and software but about developing substantial links between assessment and learning. Her message explained that incorporating digital instruments requires a deep understanding of their possible effects and how they might amplify the educational experience. Crucially, we must ascertain that the use of digital does not unintentionally result in any students being excluded or disadvantaged.

Subsequently, Associate Professor Karen Gravett expanded on strategies for incorporating digital into assessments. She took a theoretical approach, stressed the importance of understanding digital technology within educational environments, and emphasised that the digital is entangled into all facets of assessment design, teaching, and learning. Additionally, it was reiterated that digital technology is not an external element but has long been part of the educational environment.

Following this, Dr Lucinda McKnight introduced a touch of the ‘futuristic’ to our dialogue. She envisaged a future dominated by learning bots and agents tailored for individual institutions. Imagine an internal bot that can aid in assessment configurations, assess students’ contributions, or formulate assessment guidelines. However, as strongly emphasised, with remarkable digital capability comes immense responsibility. Given these digital entities’ pivotal roles, educators and administrators must remain deeply involved, constantly reviewing and ensuring the content’s accuracy, value, and ethical grounding. A significant challenge will be embedding a sense of critical thinking within these tools, prompting students to engage with their subjects in a reflective manner.

Contemplating the concept of authentic assessment, Professor Kevin Ashford-Rowe suggested that authentic assessment should be viewed less as a specific form of assessment and more as a guiding principle that underpins all assessments. Maintaining a solid commitment to well-grounded principles of assessment design is essential. The true strength of authentic assessment is not merely in its format but lies deeply in its underlying principles. Such principles must ensure that intent and results are consistent and effective.

In conclusion, a significant takeaway from this enlightening session was the necessity to recalibrate our approach and integrate digital in education, especially within authentic assessment. Discussions about assessment and digital in authentic assessment cannot be isolated from considerations of student demographics, the culture of educational institutions and affordability and utilisation of technological tools by students, educators, and future employers.

Category list: CRADLE Symposium, News

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