The Hidden Barrier to New Tools for Teaching and Testing Online

What holds some institutions back even when the faculty is hungry for change?

Dec 07, ’23 | Written by Scott Crumpler

FAIR WARNING: We're going to address an uncomfortable truth here, but bear with us. We're on your side...

Some barriers are inevitable; others are simply accepted...

There is a persistent barrier to progress in the adoption of education technology, and it's not about budget or choice.  While some schools and universities stand out as leaders who champion modern, more robust Education Technology, most institutions seem to play it safe-- even though dedicated teachers, professors, and instructional designers are willing and even eager to be better equipped. Despite the presence of innovative solutions that can positively and immediately transform online learning and testing for students, newer solutions often get dismissed because of entrenched practices and a hesitance towards change.

Proctor360 recognizes this issue, highlighting the gap between the potential of digital education tools and their actual utilization in learning institutions at all levels. This gap is not due to a lack of available technology but rather a deep-seated intransigence within some aspects of education systems that hinders the adoption of newer, more advanced solutions.  But why?

The Willingness of Educators vs. Institutional Hesitance

While educators are often eager to embrace newer online learning and testing models that hold promise for improving learning and providing more valid assessment, they often face limitations because their tools are chosen for them. Critical online learning solutions, selected through oblique procurement processes that frequently favor age over innovation, often lack the flexibility needed to truly empower teachers to cultivate better educational outcomes. Educators may find themselves relegated to roles that permit little more than providing "feedback and wish lists" to the administrative functionaries that ultimately decide the technology their institution will use.  

The Fear of New Technologies

One key aspect of this intransigence is very likely the fear of adopting newer, emerging technologies. Educational institutions, in their pursuit of familiar solutions, often overlook the capabilities of cutting-edge tools and the opportunities they may offer to meet the many evolving challenges in online education. This conservatism in technology procurement (that often paradoxically leads to inferior choices) can inadvertently hinder the drive for student success, saddling instructors with resources that may be seen as safe and predictable but are ultimately restrictive and increasingly ineffective.

Every other aspect of modern life-- for students, for teachers, for administrators, and everyone else-- is racing forward on an awesome swell of technological change.  Students can't ignore this, and they can't afford to lose out because of old world resistance to change that may thrust them ill-equipped and unprepared into a fiercely competitive world.  Unfortunately, it isn't up to them any more than it is up to the many educators who are curious and even hungry to adopt better toolsets that offer a chance to achieve better outcomes and more credible assessments in online learning environments.

The Dichotomy of Decision-Making

The purchasing decision processes in institutions can sometimes be incongruent with the needs of modern education. The individuals responsible for selecting educational tools are often the same ones contracting janitorial services and procuring office supplies, and while this process undoubtedly incorporates input from stakeholders, many teachers, professors, and instructional designers would agree that ultimate selections are not always driven by the demand for innovation or opportunity for improving educational success beyond what incumbent providers offer.  It's easy to imagine that institutional decisionmakers don't always have a direct stake in the effectiveness of their technology choices, whereas educators are on the frontline and heavily invested in their students' success. This generalized approach can lead to decisions that prioritize administrative ease over educational efficacy, resulting in a mismatch between the tools available and the needs of teachers and students.

Forward-thinking Schools Stand Out as a Sign of Change

Up to this point, it may have sounded as though Proctor360 is insensitive to the challenges schools and colleges face when it comes to selecting technology solutions, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  Our mission as a company and as a rising innovator in EdTech is to build unique solutions for more flexible and secure test administration that will empower institutions with greater choice and flexibility.  And why?  Because the benefit accrues not just to the institution in furtherance of its own aims, but to all the students who are afforded the widest access to education ever available with true credibility and integrity that can rival traditional, more restrictive models that remain out of reach for so many.

We're pleased, proud, and deeply encouraged by the (as of publication) 40 schools, online learning programs, colleges, organizations, and government agencies that recognize our technology's unique advantages and embrace our solutions as a superior alternative to old standards.  Their drive to lead the way by demanding more integrity and security for online testing is a testament to the rich opportunities for success that are available to any institution that decides they want more advanced tools for their faculties and assessment programs.  Institutions like these position themselves to stand with pride and commitment squarely behind their online students with a deep confidence and trust in the credibility of their achievements.  Because they know that grades, passing rates, and graduation stats aren't just metrics.  They're the crucial evidence of their students' success.

What does it really take to change?

With the benefit of seeing it steadily happen as more schools, colleges, and learning programs begin to explore newer and more innovative technology providers, we feel confident that the answer to that question is simple:  Embrace change.  Make choices-- instead of reinforcing old ones.  Better yet, provide choices-- work with your stakeholders to place value on empowering the educators who will use these tools to have flexibility and options.  Change the paradigm.  New technology is not as hard to "try" as it used to be (no matter how awkward it might feel to give it a shot the first few times).  Remember that your students are your truest and most valuable stakeholders.  Work to ensure their success and choose the tools that offer greater opportunity to support and validate what they achieve.  And then fight to do whatever it takes to meet this challenge.

Do it with pride.  Do it for your institution.  Do it for the students.

Remember, we said, "simple," not, "easy."  

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