With an increase in distance education, remote (practical) testing is also highly relevant right now. Practical testing has great advantages and is in fact a very desirable form of testing. Of course, not all practical elements can be tested digitally. However, there are various applications for which it is possible.
Practical testing offers several advantages and disadvantages. By far the biggest advantage is that a practical test is the most relevant way of testing. After all, if you can show that you have mastered a skill, you are most likely to be able to start as a professional. Besides, regardless of how stressful this is for some candidates, there is usually strong support for this form of testing. An important disadvantage is that practical testing is never completely free of subjectivity. However, this disadvantage can be easily minimised. For example, you can concretise the criteria on which you test into specific measurement points and train assessors to use these criteria and measurement points properly.
For some practical activities, digital practical testing is simply impossible. Think of actions such as replacing car parts in car repairs or inserting a syringe by a nurse.
But if we zoom in further on practical testing, there are also a number of aspects for which digital testing is suitable:
Some actions are the result of a previously formed opinion, for example carrying out an MOT check. Such actions are easy to assess with a digital practical test. In addition, forming an opinion is often part of a practical action. This variant of opinion forming can also be tested digitally. Think of the work of a sales employee. An exam assignment could be: “assess the needs of the customer on the basis of this film.” This assessment is then part of the practical act “conducting a sales conversation”.
In addition, it is perfectly possible to digitally test actions in which the candidate produces a written product. An example is the production of an official report by a special investigating officer on the basis of a sketch of the situation, which can be seen in a video. Another example is the preparation of part of the financial statements by an accountant. Practice-related activities that can easily be digitised given the end product.
You can also digitally test behaviours that occur during conversations. A candidate first gets to see a situation sketch (in a video) and then responds directly via the webcam. After the practical test, the assessor evaluates the responses shown by the candidate. Think for example of responding to the discussion partner during negotiations or giving a (first draft of a) recommendation. Of course, this is not the same as conducting negotiations or consultation, but in basic terms you can test whether someone can react well to what is going on in a situation.
Digital tools can also support (remote) testing, also of practical activities. For example, when conducting a roleplay. The use of digital resources, such as a camera and an online connection, means that it is no longer necessary to be all at the same location. In addition, this method of testing may even improve the quality of the assessment: by recording the roleplay, it can be watched several times during the assessment. Another example of digital tools facilitating (practical) testing in a positive way is the use of test software in the safe, complete and orderly completion, storage and sending of assessment forms.
Practical tests can definitely be (partly) digitised! Various aspects of practical activities can be tested digitally. Moreover, quality and safety often benefit from the digital support of practical testing.