Jun 10, 2013

    E-assessments catching on here

    WITH the June holidays in full swing, assessment books are in vogue again among parents. But such books are going electronic and becoming more interactive.

    While the numbers are still small, publishers here told My Paper that e-assessment books are catching on with parents. This is because of the popularity of mobile gadgets and moves towards more electronic forms of assessment.

    A number of digital assessments, such as those from Marshall Cavendish, Popular and Samsung, allow students to automatically mark questions they complete on phones or tablets. This auto-marking is especially prevalent in multiple-choice and short-answer questions.

    Popular, which sells e-assessment books on its Go-easel 2 platform, said uptake for its books has doubled from 2010 to this year. Mr Douglas Choo, Popular e-Learning Holdings' head of online services and applications, said the firm believes the increase "is due to the rise of (electronic) devices...and a new generation of parents who are less averse to technology".

    Through Go-easel, parents can check their kids' scores while at work, as well as assign assessments to their children.

    Popular's e-assessments also offer audio recording and playback for oral-based questions.

    Publisher Marshall Cavendish said demand for its e-assessment titles has been growing annually since the titles' launch in 2011. It declined to reveal figures.

    Ms Tristine Lim, its general manager for sales and marketing for educational publishing, was optimistic about the future of e-assessment books here.

    "The recent announcement by the Ministry of Education to introduce electronic systems for examinations will...encourage teachers, parents and students to use electronic books," she said.

    At the Singapore Book Fair at Suntec Singapore, which ends today, the firm put out a presentation on its e-assessment offerings, available through its MCEnrich portal. Its digital titles allow parents to customise assessments by selecting the number and type of questions for their kids.

    Samsung has been working with education-content publishers to offer free primary-school e-assessment apps at the Samsung App Store. Using a stylus, pupils can write and draw their answers to English and mathematics questions.

    A Samsung spokesman said the apps, based on the Singapore syllabus, have been downloaded 20,000 times globally since their launch last year.

    Principal engineer Jeremy Chan, 44, who has two primary-school kids, said e-assessment books "are faster to mark and portable". But he noted that digital learning has its disadvantages, such as the lack of direct communication between parent and kid.

    Prices of e-assessment books are comparable to those of printed ones. Popular's e-books cost between $5.90 and $20, while Marshall Cavendish's e-titles range from $3 to $13.50.