The Art of Communication

One definition of the term 'communication' is that it is two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange (encode-decode) information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning. In general, communication is a means of connecting people or places. In business, it is a key function of management organization which cannot operate without communication between levels, departments and employees.


Within the education and exams sector it is vital that there are good communications between the different stakeholders if students are not going to be disadvantaged. One of the biggest gripes of exam officers had in the past was trying to navigate the numerous exam body websites for information and advice. In addition, were the complaints over being sent long and detailed email newsletters where it was easy to miss key updates and advice.


The iEOA over the years has been working closely with various exam bodies to address these issues and one can see a vast improvement on both these fronts. However, another issue over communication has been raised by members. This is around the community sensing that exam bodies, including their trade body the JCQ, seem to be cutting back on communications or to put it another way, everyone has this sense that they are expected to go on the hunt for information on various websites or chase down specific email links to get updates. Many fear if they miss something they will be dragged over the coals for malpractice, unfairly!


This approach of only having updates on the website is very acceptable practice as it avoids additional communications such as emails with news and updates being out of date. One can go to one place and find the information needed, assuming the website is user friendly. However, without appropriate communications, based on adequate consultation from exam boards to signpost their websites, one might find oneself in the same position as described in that classic tale -  Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) which at one point describes the destruction of the earth (Chapter 3 p36/7).


Just a simple message. 'People of Earth, your attention please,' a voice said, and it was wonderful. Wonderful perfect quadraphonic sound with distortion levels so low as to make a brave man weep. 'This is Prostetnic Vogon ]eltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council,' the voice continued. 'As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for the development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require the building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably, your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less than two of your Earth minutes. Thank you.'


Uncomprehending terror settled on the watching people of Earth. The terror moved slowly through the gathered crowds as if they were iron filings on a sheet of board and a magnet was moving beneath them. Panic sprouted again, desperate fleeing panic, but there was nowhere to flee to. Observing this, the Vogons turned on their PA again. It said: ' There's no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it's far too late to start making a fuss about it now.'


On that note can we urge you to go to the JCQ website and engage in their request for feedback on their documentation so click here to that link. You may need to look down the list for a reference to the exam officer community, who everyone knows, are employed to manage and administer the exam process in centres, and have to work with other specialists

to help deliver the system. The iEOA did a survey on this three years ago and over 80% of those who responded were very unhappy with how these documents are constructed, edited and updated.


Well now is the time to respond and let's just find out what is fact and what is fiction, in regard to what is being said and done, and is people's perceptions accurate about just these documents are there for. Before you respond to this request please remember that they are there to deliver external public exams, and not to serve all the permutations associated with teaching and learning which dominates the culture and practice in centres. 


So let's welcome this approach and engage in this excerise as a positive experience to help drive appropriate change which is what the iEOA have been asking for, for years and do not forget the iEOA will continue to run their own independent surveys now, and in the future!