Monday, 26 November 2012


This is an interesting and potentially extremely useful initiative for language teachers and students. OpenExam is a "teacher-led, non-profit, charitable foundation of schools, colleges and universities" which aims to provide a bank of examination papers which can done on computers, tablets and phones, and self-assessed online. Exams will include GCSE, IGCSE, A-level, IB, AP (USA), Matric (South Africa) and SSCE (Australia).

These are the stated objectives of the charity:

1. to encourage the teaching and learning of modern, foreign and endangered  languages, thereby promoting international relations and mutual understanding between cultures.
2. to facilitate the acquisition of foreign languages by providing teachers and students with online access to exam-style resources.
3. to provide a mechanism for formative assessment and internationally recognisable records of achievement.

The list of "advisors" for the foundation are mainly Heads of Languages in English independent secondary schools.

As an example, there is already posted a Foundation Level GCSE reading comprehension paper. (It took me a moment to work out how to use the interface, but it works well enough once you figure out the zooming effects.) The exam can be adapted and set for students to do online. Everything is web-based, no software needed and the exams should work well on phones and tablets. The tasks use the Schoolshape technical platform. Schoolshape is an established commercial concern, but I am not sure what their interest is in the scheme.

Ultimately schools who provide material will get free access, whilst other users would pay a fee.

It is early days for OpenExam. As they say:

"At this early stage in its development, OpenExam is looking to establish a consortium of contributing partners before going on to offer its resources more widely – on a self-supporting, non-profit basis. These “Foundation Schools” will be able to contribute to the organisation’s development and assist in the production of resources. They will also benefit in return from unlimited free access to the library of practice examinations."

Overall this appears to be an excellent sharing intiative. There are other banks of shared MFL material on the web, notably TES, but none that I am aware of which provide interactive, self-marking exam papers. The free BBC bitesize material fulfills a similar brief, but is limited in scope. The stress on the word "exam" will no doubt encourage the greatest use of the resources. I am sure teachers and students would find this a very worthwhile aid.

1 comment:

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