Results Day is a moment of national jitters, where we collectively hold our breath for anyone we know whose life will be impacted by the results to come. Students, eductors, parents, friends; it’s a life changing process for all concerned. There are of course a few dates in the calendar. All Scottish students receive their results on the 6th of August this year. A-Levels come out on the 15th of August and GCSE’s follow on a week later on the 22nd August. What used to be a shakily opened envelope has now become a text, or a frantically updated browser window but in many ways there are no tech solutions to the moment of truth.
That said, the development of online tools and advice on preparing for results day, and dealing with the consequences, has improved drastically over the years. Back in 2002, when I collected my own A-Level results it was an overwhelmingly analogue process. We queued at one door to receive ‘the envelope’. Some were greeted with a smile and sent off to celebrate. Those less lucky joined another queue. This one was outside the “UCAS Advisor’s” office door with phone numbers for clearing and a photocopied advice sheet with a handful of personalised scribblings in pencil underneath. The system worked well enough but then we didn’t know how much better we could do.
This 2002 vs 2019 comparison is a really good example of how digital innovations, from the place of social media, to specific EdTech applications, have revolutionised our lives. A really lovely example of this comes via Twitter, the #NoWrongPath campaign set up in Scotland a couple of years ago to support young people on results day. The teams at Founders4Schools and Workfinder are going to be getting involved this year, sharing our own varying career paths. It’s a really lovely way of using TechForGood by allowing young people and their families to get a broader perspective on what can be a difficult day.
Another big innovation in terms of digital interaction on the day itself comes from UCAS, who have hugely extended their offering in the last few years. They now offer a much more complex suite of support to young people, teachers, and families. Further education, teacher training, clearing options, guides to student finance, conservatoire application guides, alternatives to university; all of these now feature as areas in which help and guidance is offered.
And, of course, it doesn’t stop there; indeed it doesn’t start there either! EdTech applications are now enmeshed in the lives of young people from a much earlier point. In a primary context their teachers may well be using tools like Mrs Wordsmith to augment learning, secondary teachers could be using Google Classroom to organise the class, and EdTech solutions can be transformational in educating SEND pupils. It’s this practitioner use of EdTech that then seeps into the day to day of interactions of the young people themselves. They may experience using Raspberry Pi or Macat. This may open doors for them to start using apps like Workfinder and as they get older things like FutureLearn and Graduway may seem like good opportunities. The point is that these EdTech solutions have perhaps made the cliff edge of results day a bit less daunting. Digital solutions have the ability to remove barriers and create opportunities that we just can’t create scalable access to in an analogue way.
So, results day is scary. But it’s not the end of the world; regardless of what the verdict is results day marks a moment when the context shifts and new horizons open up, and there are some wonderful digital technologies and innovations out there to prepare young people for this. Good Luck.