Smarterer is a crowdsourced test platform that scores individuals on digital, social and technical skills. It is part of Rethink Educations investment portfolio, and aims to offer users an innovative way to present an online image of their skills and expertise.
“People are rapidly accumulating a new set of digital and technical skills that make them valuable and effective in today’s workforce, yet no one is measuring or validating these skills,” says Smarterer’s page. “As consumers we need an easy way to enhance our reputation collateral. As employers, we hire based on work history and personality metrics, but are missing the key criteria that prove people’s ability to use the tools needed to be successful.”
An article about education innovators on Huffington Post featured a few words with Smarterer founder Jennifer Fremont-Smith who expands on this point. She argues that the methods by which employers evaluate applicants are negatively impacted by the sheer number of applicants they receive, which forces them to scan résumés in just a few seconds instead of truly getting a feel for the particular skills of an individual. Smarterer is designed to provide people with an at-a-glance view of one’s merits as a worker. And it’s not just designed for the people in the modern working world. Students—even teenage students, or possibly younger—can use an application like Smarterer to essentially prove their skills to anyone interested in learning more about them, from a college admissions board to a potential employer.
In a job market where applicants must suffer the paradox of needing the job to get the experience but needing the experience to get the job, Smarterer presents itself as an option for people to quickly display the value of their experience. A user accumulates a score which is generated by answering questions on a variety of different subjects.
Spending enough time on Smarterer is one more way that individuals can make a good online impression. At this moment, the Class of 2012 is leaving college and entering an intimidating and competitive job market. Students are so often encouraged to clean up their online image—removing less-than-reputable photographs from your Facebook feed, beefing up your LinkedIn account or maybe taking a new profile picture of yourself wearing business casual. Smarterer is designed to be one more way to extend a firm handshake over the Internet and make one more good impression.
Crowdsourced Testing and Adaptive Scoring
A glance at my “Suggested Tests” section reveals the vast number of tests that Smarterer users have created. At random, there are tests in Intermediate Spanish, Adobe After Effects, Google AdWords, Calculus, MLA style and something called Bioinformatics that I’m not even going to investigate. The tests are as diverse as they are numerous. You can even take a test about College Financial Aid.
The collective intelligence of the crowd is what generates the questions, and users can rate questions based on their merit as they complete them one at a time. When I was confronted with a basic math question and the blue timer bar at the top began to erode, a tiny sense of panic came over me before I selected the correct answer. Sure, I have a little bit of math anxiety, but the question itself wasn’t hard. The timer instills a sense of urgency to the player and encourages quick thinking and a patient disposition. It reminded me of Lumosity brain training.
Your score accumulates in each subject as you complete tests, which, according to Smarterer is “based on the algorithms used to score chess masters.” No, this application won’t turn you into Bobby Fischer, but it might make you a little bit better at Photoshop or algebra. Scores decay over time, encouraging the user to keep using the application in order to improve not only their score but their skills as well. When one’s skills are numerically judged, one might feel compelled to improve them, a simple gamification concept that is all the rage these days.
In concert with the score, Smaterer also features a leaderboard so users can see where they stand against others. A friendly competitive edge can make any activity interesting. Users can link their Smarterer accounts to their LinkedIn profiles. Are you an advanced user of Microsoft Excel? Answer some questions about it on Smarterer and prove it to anyone viewing your profile.
Smarterer is still in its innovational infancy at this time. It has not yet exploded on the social networking scene, but the fundamental idea behind it is solid. The questions remains about whether or not Smarterer will become a popular lens through which employers can evaluate potential hires, or colleges can evaluate applicants. But with education experts like those at Rethink Education supporting the efforts of Smarterer, this crowdsourced test platform seems poised to make a big impact.