While much of the world looks to settle into a new normal following the onset of COVID-19, many of the changes that resulted from the pandemic are set to remain.

Education has experienced a significant digital transformation – and although this was gaining momentum prior to the pandemic, it was significantly accelerated because of it. In particular, the need for online evaluations grew in relevance and importance, and we believe that trend will continue. 

As people endured months of COVID-19 quarantine and health restrictions banned in-person testing, the potential to impact the learning outcomes for millions around the world was threatened. However, applications such as ours played a pivotal role in enabling testing to continue – so that students could be assessed and graduate, employees could be accredited, and people could continue their professional and self-development – regardless of the pandemic.

ICFES (the Colombian Institute for the Promotion of Higher Education – part of Colombia’s Ministry of National Education) utilized the digital transformation in order to execute 326,000 online state exams.

In Colombia, high school seniors are required to take an exam (the Pruebas Saber 11) to graduate and be admitted to higher education. Students in technical and technological careers, and undergraduate students must also undertake specific exams (the Saber TyT and Saber Pro).

Sumadi partnered with CognosOnline and Open LMS to deliver these exams online, on behalf of ICFES to Colombian students – those located within the country, as well as abroad. 

As a result of the partnership and the successful delivery of the exams (which lasted up to five hours), Colombia became the first country in the world to carry out exams on such a large scale, online and simultaneously. 

The project involved the implementation of technology that enabled thousands of students to be assessed virtually through:

  • a learning management solution, with high scalability that allowed for the creation of exams in an intuitive and accessible way and that could be easily adopted by those responsible for uploading exam questionnaires. The eLearning platform, Open LMS enabled this.
  • a technology that would integrate with Open LMS and could deliver academic integrity and exam security through online monitoring. This role was pivotal to the project’s success and was executed by Sumadi.

We supervised the exams while they were being undertaken by creating electronic academic files and identifying students who were not complying with the exam rules, such as a student attempting to open a restricted page, checking their cell phone, or speaking to a third party. 

During the exams, continuous facial authentications of the students were captured, producing records in an automated way, and generating alerts for evaluators in real time. This included capturing more than 181 million photographic records, simultaneously.

“We’re proud to have been part of this history-making project, working with ICFES, CognosOnline and Open LMS,” said Raúl Rivera, Sumadi’s Executive Director.

“Through our AI and facial recognition technology we ensured the integrity of the exams, allowing for a fair and impartial evaluation of all students, no matter where they were located.”

“Importantly, the project helped contain the spread of COVID-19 and kept students safe as they undertook their exams from home – enabling them to fulfil their assessment requirements and avoid significant impacts to their learning outcomes,” Raúl added.

Colombia’s example highlights what can be achieved when technology, human capital and effective partnerships are optimized. It also demonstrates the current digital transformation – using technology for simultaneous online assessments of large numbers of students located anywhere in the world – is succeeding.