ATP Session Presenters Predict a Future With Real-Time Translation Services Among Other Innovations

by Jake Vogt, ATP Writer

Five billion people talking on fifty billion devices with no language barriers between them…that is the future that Ron Lancaster and Matthew Poyiadgi, both from Pearson VUE, predicted for attendees of their session entitled “Future Impact: How Technology is Changing the Way We Learn and Live” presented at this year’s Innovations in Testing Conference held in February. The presentation discussed contemporary technological trends such as the proliferation of smartphones and the expansion of internet access, illustrating the global changes those trends are triggering in lifestyles and attitudes that are upending contemporary models of business, education and assessment.
“The world has seen a series of revolutions occur over the last several centuries,” remarked Lancaster,  Vice President of Technology for Pearson VUE, naming the Agricultural, Scientific and Industrial Revolutions as historical moments that marked changes in the way people live, work and learn. “Now we’re at the Information Revolution, “ he noted “… we have industrialized large parts of our world, were  now  able to invent things that allow us to share information quickly and seamlessly. 

One of the most dramatic effects of the technology, Lancaster pointed out, has been to give users “a power that’s never been seen in terms of the relationship between consumers and businesses. We can find the price of something, or a review of something, or give feedback to the CEO directly as we’re using the product.”
Co-Presenter Matthew Poyiadgi, Managing Director of EMEA for Pearson VUE,  agreed:  “The major thing technology’s doing is it’s giving customers a voice,” he said, “and the customer is now arm-in-arm with CEOs in setting strategy for the company. That’s never happened before.” The result is a generation of consumers who don’t respond to traditional marketing methods. “So we, as organizations, have to learn to market to this generation on their terms. We have to engage them. We have to speak to them so, so differently because they want stuff a million miles a second, they want stuff electronically.” Fortunately for businesses, the same technology that gives the individual consumer a new voice also makes it possible to track the interests and habits of an individual, allowing for finely tuned marketing efforts.  “When you look at the average size of a market segment, it’s no longer a demographic of thousands of people. The average segment is now one. The customer base is now ‘You.’”

Poyiadgi and Lancaster stressed that these trends were not confined to the business world, and that the radical change in the relationship between consumers and businesses will soon be paralleled in the relationship between students and educators. “We teach our kids basically the same way they were taught 50 years ago or a hundred years ago,” said Lancaster. “That is all about to change, and the changes we are starting to see in education will affect how we test.”

“Today, everyone talks about ‘learning on the go’,” said Poyiadgi, noting that smart devices make it possible to combine traditional educational models with “twenty-minute, bite-sized chunks” of educational material. “It’s like the way people read on a Kindle: they read half a chapter at a time. As that translates to testing and assessment, what that technology will allow people to do—or what people will want to do because of the technology—is go off and learn when and where they choose. So eventually, the student, candidate or applicant will say, ‘I want to test on my own device. I want to test at home. I want to test when I’m ready to do so.’ It’s up to the testing organizations to then figure out: ‘How do we validate these students? How do we measure the security of these students? How do we know that they are who they say they are?’”

Answering questions like those will prove vital for the assessment community, as all signs point to the continuation and even acceleration of these essential trends. “By 2020, we expect that five billion people will use the internet,” said Lancaster. “That’s a staggering number. The world is getting smaller and all these people will be connected in a way that we’ve never had the world connected before.” These five billion people will be connected on fifty billion devices, and communication between them will be easier than ever, thanks to even newer technology. “One of the key technologies that is probably within reach in the next seven or ten years is the ability to translate in real time from one language to another. We’ve been seeing this in print already, [and now] real-time translated speech is in range within the next decade. Five billion people connected to the internet and able to talk to each other.” As people and devices come together in these astounding numbers, Lancaster says, “Things in education will become increasingly collaborative, increasingly tech-powered and increasingly personalized.”

ATP Conference Information: View ATP conference videos here, including keynote session with Futurist Author Jack Uldrich.  Innovations in Testing 2014 will be held March 2-5, at the Westin Kierland in Scottsville, Arizona.