As the festive season sparkles around us and 2023 winds to a close, our team at Cirrus extend our warmest holiday wishes to all our customers, partners, and friends. It’s a perfect moment to express our heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering support and invaluable feedback, which have been instrumental in enhancing Cirrus as a platform dedicated to you. Let’s take a joyful stroll down memory lane and celebrate the incredible strides we’ve made together in 2023!
Cirrus Continues to Innovate…
Continuously improving our online exam platform is a top priority for us. We receive so much valuable feedback and we want our customers to know that we take everything to heart. Here’s a snapshot of our exciting journey:
Launched LOFT 3.0, effectively making test centres optional. Introducing LOFT 3.0, where each exam is as unique as a fingerprint, stopping online cheating and content theft in its tracks. This tech ensures unparalleled security, offering exams that are different for every test-taker and equal in difficulty and content coverage. LOFT 3.0 is setting a new benchmark in academic integrity, transforming the landscape of online testing with its innovative approach to fair and secure assessments.
Introducing the Coordinator Dashboard, elevating your user experience to new heights.
In September, we empowered coordinators with a comprehensive dashboard. The new Coordinator Dashboard offers you a panoramic view of every assessor and moderator’s progress and acts as your early warning system for timely interventions. Say goodbye to missed deadlines and hello to assessments that run like clockwork, all while safeguarding the quality and timeline of your marking process.
Received the EuroStar Grant for an AI Essay Marking Tool. In collaboration with Blees AI and Chartered Accountants Ireland, This project aims to integrate AI-powered auto-marking for essays into Cirrus’ cloud platform, enhance the fairness of grading,and save organisations up to 60% in marking costs. We’re developing this AI essay marking tool, which is ready to launch exclusively on our platform in Spring 2024.
Enhanced Forms and Invigilation Overviews: We fine-tuned these features for a smoother, more efficient process.
Upgraded Coordinator Overview: Empowering Marking Coordinators. The Coordinator Overview has received a significant upgrade, and now presents the marking progress of all your assessments in one consolidated view. This enhancement saves valuable time, allowing coordinators to quickly assess the overall status without navigating through multiple screens. The new table component can be personalised to your requirements, and a dedicated column tracks progress, making it easy to identify potential bottlenecks and balance marking workloads efficiently.
Happy Birthday to us! 🎶
From the first lines of code in 2013 to now, Cirrus has a decade of creating better assessments under our belt. We sat down with our CEO, Vegard Sivertsen, to get his musings on what the past 10 years meant for us.
“I felt that the market was ripe for a transformation. It struck me that there was a significant void in e-assessment at the time – it was lacking both genuine innovation and a user-centric approach.
Our goal was to design a system catering to the entire user spectrum. For beginners, it would be a gentle introduction to the world of online testing, free from the intimidation of steep learning curves. For the seasoned professionals, it would offer a depth of advanced features to explore and utilise, enhancing their productivity and expanding their capabilities. And that is exactly what we set out to provide.”
The turning point for Cirrus in educational technology came in 2018, catalysed by a partnership with Ian Browne from Chartered Accountants Ireland. This collaboration, built on a shared vision for digital assessments in professional competency, led to innovative developments like the integration of Office 365, offering a more authentic testing experience. Cirrus’ journey, underscored by a commitment to user-friendly and secure high-stakes exams, is best encapsulated by Vegard’s words: “Solving complex problems is a common skill, but the genius lies in making the complex effortlessly manageable.”
Cirrus was in the conference spotlight in 2023. Are we exhausted and a little tired of seeing Schipol Airport? Maybe. Are we tired of getting on stage and showing off our platform? Not a chance!
Our journey through 2023 took us to some fantastic conferences, where we shared insights, gained knowledge, and celebrated achievements:
ATP in Dallas, Texas
Cirrus mess(ed) with Texas! At the “Better Together” ATP conference, we showcased our solutions in secure and efficient remote testing, highlighting LOFT 3.0 technology designed to adapt to evolving digital learning environments. This year’s theme focused on collaboration and adaptation in the assessment industry, with Cirrus demonstrating their platform’s capabilities in exam security, integrity, and the potential of remote assessments.
AO Forum in London
Our home away from home, London. We popped over for the AO Forum, where we learned the importance of maintaining active, relevant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to prevent malpractice in awarding bodies, adapting to evolving educational policies and AI technologies like ChatGPT, while balancing diverse stakeholder needs and interests
E-Assessment Conference in London
The e-Assessment Awards honour the pinnacle of achievement within the digital assessment community, and we are proud to be finalists in the category ‘The Most Innovative Use of Technology in Assessment Award’. 2023 has indeed been a banner year and we’ve witnessed a host of international projects and organisations shining a bright light on the potential of technology-enhanced assessments, demonstrating that this revolution is not just the future – it is the here and now.
E-ATP in Vienna
Spent four warm days in Vienna, where Cirrus Assessment stood out with two key presentations: CEO Vegard Sivertsen and Account Manager Martijn van der Jagt introduced LOFT 3.0, showcasing how our blueprint technology ensures fair, randomised exams for global students. We were joined digitally by Norman Grotzbach from AKAD, explaining how AKAD University uses the Cirrus platform to create ‘Anytime Exams” – balanced, customisable, legally defensible exams taken anytime, anywhere in the world.
We reunited with Sojin Lee, founder of Blees AI for a second presentation. Sojin and Vegard explored the potential of AI-automated essay marking, addressing challenges in traditional marking methods and highlighting the need for ethical AI practices.
FAB Conference in Leicester
Cirrus was thrilled to immerse ourselves in the dynamic discussions and innovative presentations shaping the future of the UK’s qualifications and assessments industry. The conference buzzed with insightful conversations about the evolving skills agenda, particularly in the context of the upcoming general election. AI was once again a hot topic, the potential of AI and digital technologies to change vocational and technical education. We were particularly captivated by the forward-thinking strategies around embedding sustainable, green initiatives in educational processes and the exploration of AI’s role in enhancing social mobility, sustainability, and equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). The prestigious FAB Awards dinner was a highlight, celebrating significant contributions to education and skills in the UK, and serving as a testament to the industry’s commitment to excellence and innovation. Cirrus left the conference inspired and eager to integrate these groundbreaking ideas and technologies into our services, furthering our mission to lead the charge in the qualifications and assessment sector.
OEB in Berlin with our partner, Proctorio
As the ink dried on our official partnership, we figured the best way to celebrate with them was well…WITH them! We linked up with Proctorio at their booth at the OEB conference in Berlin and presented how our secure platform, backed by their proctoring solutions, is a win in the fight against academic dishonesty.
Exciting new partnerships
Teaming up with RegisterBlast and Proctorio has opened new doors, with even more thrilling announcements on the horizon.
Although we have been using Proctorio for a while now to keep our exams cheat-proof, we’ve strengthened our bond. Under a new agreement, Proctorio will introduce Cirrus’s advanced assessment platform to its network in the corporate testing and educational sectors, particularly in the US and Germany, offering it both as a bundled solution and a standalone platform. Vegard Sivertsen, CEO of Cirrus, highlights this collaboration as a leap forward in delivering secure, remote assessments with LOFT 3.0 technology, while Mike Olsen, CEO of Proctorio, sees it as a strategic alignment with their mission to democratise education access, combining their remote proctoring solutions with Cirrus’s platform to offer high-integrity, accessible education worldwide.
We also partnered up with RegisterBlast in 2023 and have launched the Cirrus Exam Booking system that makes scheduling your exams a no-brainer. The alliance sets a new industry standard by merging Cirrus Assessment’s advanced exam capabilities with RegisterBlast’s efficient scheduling tools. Both platforms offer specialised features—Cirrus focuses on advanced question types and high-level security, while RegisterBlast provides intuitive, education-focused scheduling solutions.
Dwight Pittman, CEO of RegisterBlast, says “Partnering with Cirrus is an exciting opportunity. We believe integrating with their online exam experience will be one more way we can help clients in higher education build quick and easy scheduling solutions for their assessment needs. It only makes sense to lend our expertise to Cirrus’ incredible platform. RegisterBlast looks forward to working with Vegard and the Cirrus team to explore how our partnership can improve and simplify testing in higher education.”
Gratitude for Your Feedback
But enough about us, we really would like to take this time to thank all of you who filled out our customer survey. Our recent customer satisfaction survey showed a remarkable satisfaction rate of 95.6%. We’re over the moon but not stopping until we hit that perfect 100%. Thank you for your invaluable feedback and trust!
As we bid adieu to a fantastic 2023 and welcome the promising horizons of 2024, we remain committed to strengthening our bond with you, our cherished Cirrus community. Here’s to soaring higher together in the new year!
What’s Next? 2024 and Beyond!
We want to give you a sneak peek into what 2024 has in store, with the promise of a more detailed blog post coming soon to delve deeper into these developments.
Revamped Library & Manual Question Selection
Early 2024 will unveil significant enhancements to our Library, making your experience more intuitive and user-friendly. Coupled with the Manual Question Selection feature, these updates are set to significantly improve your day-to-day interactions with our platform.
Stepping into the future, we’re introducing the Test Wizard – a revolutionary tool designed to simplify the creation of high-quality assessments. This intuitive feature is a game-changer, especially for those new to digital assessment, making the process straightforward and accessible to all.
Overhauled Marking Functionality
After a decade of gathering valuable insights and feedback, we’re on the cusp of unveiling a completely transformed marking system. Integrating the latest in AI technology, this innovative approach promises to vastly improve auto-scoring, particularly for open-ended questions and complex assessments.
Stay tuned for our upcoming detailed blog post, where we’ll dive into each of these exciting developments, giving you a comprehensive look at how these changes will enhance your experience with Cirrus in 2024 and beyond. The future is bright, and we can’t wait to explore it with you!