Our websites:

Our social media sites - YouTube, Twitter and Facebook

YouTube X Facebook Instagram
2032

Internet-enabled technology can be used in SQA exams in 2025!

Posted by Paul Nisbet on the 13th June, 2024

Category Digital Exams Assistive Technology

SQA today announced that they are changing the policy so that Chromebooks, iPads and Windows devices can be connected to the internet in exams as long as the integrity of the assessment is maintained. This is great news for learners who use digital assessment arrangements!

Today's SQA Newsletter announced the following (it's not on the web site yet - should be up soon):

2024-25 update on the use of ICT in SQA exams

We have carried out extensive research with centres across Scotland to understand how ICT devices (including Chromebook and Apple devices) are being used in teaching, learning and assessments, and the benefits and barriers experienced.

We will be amending our ICT security requirements to allow Apple and Chromebook devices to be used in external exams as a result.
 

Learners in many areas of Scotland have personal Chromebooks or iPads but there are significant technical challenges in using them in examinations. Pupils are learning how to use these devices in class, sometimes to great benefit, but they can't use this 'normal way of working' in class.

I have been working with a group of S1 pupils, teaching them to use Chromebook text to speech and dictation. Our pupils are capable but struggle to get ideas from their head onto paper. All have dyslexic traits to varying degrees as well as other barriers to learning. 

Use of assistive technology on Chromebooks has vastly improved their confidence in, and quality of, writing. 

Although this has been a very successful exercise, we are now thinking of how they can access such software for formal assessments and exams. Chromebooks are not suitable for this as they cannot function offline. Pupils cannot have internet connectivity while completing formal assessments.            

Over the past few years we have worked with SQA, teachers, pupils, technical colleagues and software providers to gather evidence on how this challenge can be tackled and as a result SQA have changed the 'non-internet' policy so that we now have an opportunity to use internet-enabled devices in examinations. The SQA statement mentions iPads and Chromebooks but applies also to Windows devices as well.

We are very grateful to everyone who has participated in this work and particularly to Michelle Cunninghame, Research and Policy Manager (Equalities) and Annette Foulcer, Research & Policy Officer at SQA, for arguing for this policy development.   

We will be updating our Digital Assessment Arrangements web site over the summer to take account of the new systems and opportunities, and next term we hope to help teachers, technical colleagues and pupils to implement online digital assessment arrangements. 

We are also developing a 4 week course on Digital Assessment Arrangements starting on 29th August which will delve more deeply into the use of technology as assessment arrangements.

The full message from SQA

2024-25 Update on the use of ICT in SQA exams

We have carried out extensive research with centres across Scotland to understand how ICT devices (including Chromebook and Apple devices) are being used in teaching, learning and assessments, and the benefits and barriers experienced. Research has highlighted that learners have increasingly been using Chromebook and Apple devices in learning and teaching. These devices require an internet connection to operate, and centres were not confident these could be secured and meet current ICT security requirements. Therefore, a bank of Windows devices have been retained by centres for use in external exams.

We will be amending our ICT security requirements to allow Apple and Chromebook devices to be used in external exams, provided that the restricted internet connection is only used to enable the operation of the device. Learners must not access the internet for externally assessed exams that are completed under a high degree of supervision and control. All other functions (such as network drives, Bluetooth, thesaurus, predictive text and generative AI functionality) and access to personal files and folders detailed in our ICT Security Checklist must also be followed. You can find the ICT Security Checklist on our Secure site.

You must ensure that the type of device chosen will be suitable for the assessment being undertaken, such as where use of ICT, peripherals and suitable software are required to allow the learner to demonstrate the skills, knowledge and understanding being assessed. There is no change to the ICT requirements or the conditions of assessment for these courses. You are expected to ensure that any devices used, including any classroom management software, will comply with best practices and have been security hardened to the appropriate levels.
 

Short Study Courses

4, 5, 8 and 10-week

Newsletter: join thousands of other people

Once a month we'll send you an email with news, research and thoughts, as well as training courses and free webinars you may wish to attend.