“We have a lot of difficulty when it comes to the bigger
picture,” he says.
Some skills – such as how we deal with spontaneous
communication or how we strategise conversations –
still escape AI.
Presently, these limitations constitute a problem if langu-age
tests are produced to match AI engines’ current marking
capabilities, Rogerson explains.
“A lot of test writers focus on those items that can be auto-marked
by an AI engine… these may be dangerous because
we are limiting what we learn and what we can assess based
on what the technology can currently mark,” she says.
“We need to provide tests that allow communicative
competence to be assessed and maybe focus more on the
20 | THE PIE REVIEW | ISSUE #19
Leading the change
The new kids on the block such as Duolingo or English3
don’t see themselves as challengers – more as leaders
showing the way to a more democratic testing industry. By
lowering barriers, they could even help revive the US’s inter-national
DET head of strategy Jen Dewar, who says Duolingo
can serve as a model of how technology can be used to
democratise education, says that lower admission costs and
facilitating access from countries with no official test centre
will be beneficial.
Coming from an admissions background herself, Dewar
knows universities are not well aware of these challenges for
students, but with US international recruitment decreasing,
they’ll be more eager to listen to these arguments.
“We are helping universities understand what a barrier
this is for students… universities are becoming more sensi-tive
to this. I am seeing mobility patterns changing… so the
issue of access is becoming a more compelling argument,”
she explains to The PIE.
But universities need to have confidence in the new
testing solutions first, warns English3 COO Moroni Flake.
”One of the primary drivers of the international student
drop in the US is cost,” he says. “Universities can attract
more applicants by accepting a test that is more affordable
and convenient, but they must have confidence that the test
is an accurate reflection of academic English ability.”
But it’s not only for recruitment’s sake. The push to reach
more students is to give everyone a chance to demonstrate
their linguistic ability, which can be a fundamental barrier to
progress in many countries.
We need to
provide tests that allow
to be assessed and maybe
focus more on the human-machine