We Work Together, But Test Alone

I am currently enrolled in a combined technology certifications course. Upon completion of a number of certification-targeted classroom instruction hours and after taking multiple practice tests, we, isolated from any and all digital and human resources (even our wallets and purses are not allowed), are subjected to an intense, time-regulated multiple choice test for each certification. To be fair, the tests include a few “simulations” which are little more than drag and drop exercises. The test questions are determined by the certification authority, proctored by an employee of the instructional organization, and administered remotely by Pearson VUE.

Two points:

  • technology certification instruction. Think about that for a minute then visualize a standard 1980’s classroom configuration. Add a computer on each desk. The instructor’s desk is to the right front of the room so as not to block the information being projected from the overhead projector onto the screen at the front of the room. For the most part the instructor projects and reads from the certification authority’s text interrupting only to address questions that are thankfully allowed at any point. Students may observe what is being read on the screen at the front of the room or follow along on their personal computers. The text does contain many reinforcing graphical representations. Periodically within the test are computer-based practical exercises that attempt to replicate the real thing using an artificial user interface that in itself requires familiarization. Infrequently (two in a two-month period) a half-day “lab” is conducted. The labs represent limited reality, e.g., setting up a network switch that is not connected to a network. Somehow what we’ve learned in the past 30 years about pedagogies, instructional technologies, and integrating technology into classrooms and curriculums have bypassed the exulted organizations that control technology certifications and those that instruct toward certification achievement.
  • isolated from any and all digital and human resources. The work world is all about sharing, communicating, and collaborating. In a very long and varied career, I have only experienced one job wherein I was unable to correspond with or seek help from others in a timely manner. It was when I was a high school teacher. Not that help wasn’t available overtime, just when most needed. Anyway, for the most part, the work world now expects, even demands, teamwork. Recently I read an article that in a sentence capsulized the way work success has evolved. “We all know who invented the light bulb but who invented the iPhone?” Yet we continue to test knowledge in isolation rather than performance within a group. The future lies in developing and administering team performance tests that also measure individual knowledge and collaborative acuity.