2021 Programme

Day 1 – Wednesday 6 October

2:00pm BST | 9:00am ET

Opening welcome session

2:05pm BST | 9:05am ET

Keynote 1: Michael Dodd

When things don’t go according to plan in online exams: Giving great answers to tough questions

Michael Dodd – International speaker, media and presentation coach at Michael Dodd Communications

Michael Dodd is an international speaker, former broadcast journalist and foreign correspondent who helps business leaders, international officials and other professionals like you, to communicate effectively and positively in challenging circumstances.

Michael opens the Surpass Conference with his keynote presentation. In this session he will talk about how to respond to issues that could arise in the challenging world of online assessment.

Afterwards, you’ll have chance to ask your own tough questions in a live Q+A session.

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3:00pm BST | 10:00am ET

From paper tests to prototyping – Developing a new framework to create complex item types and simulations without the pain, with Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)

James Young PhD – Item Bank Manager, CXC
Jim Crawford – Business Development Director, BTL 

In this session, BTL’s Jim Crawford will be joined by James Young PhD from the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC). James will recount CXC’s journey from delivering tests on paper to delivering electronically, and talk about how they plan to overcome the challenge of delivering across the 19 territories that CXC covers, while Jim will outline Surpass’s Custom Question Type (CQT) framework and how we see it being used in the future. James and Jim will be available after the session to take any questions.

You’ll love this session if… you are moving from paper to on-screen examinations or are interested in complex question types that can be unlocked through the CQT framework.

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3:30pm BST | 10:30am ET

Upcoming Surpass features, followed by Q+A with the Surpass team

Jamie Allen – Product Owner, BTL
John McGrath – Chief Product Officer, BTL
Mudassar Iqbal – Product Owner, BTL
Tim Shea – Product Owner, BTL
Yasser Hussain – Product Owner, BTL

In this session, our Chief Product Officer, John McGrath will be joined by members of the Surpass Product Team to introduce some of the most interesting upcoming features of Surpass. This includes new functionality relating to marking, LOFT, paper-based tests and our Test Creation Wizard. We’ll explain the background to why community members wanted to see these features in Surpass and provide some ideas as to how you might choose to use them. There will also be the opportunity to ask the team questions about these changes in Surpass.

You’ll love this session if… you want to know what you can expect from Surpass in the coming months.

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3:55pm BST | 10:55am ET

Surpass Community stories: Innovate Awarding, Penske and SQA

Andy Howat – Technical Solutions Specialist, Penske
Carolyn Kerr – Digital Assessment Services Manager, SQA
Jessica Fowler – Client Relationship Manager, Innovate Awarding

Join representatives from these Surpass community members as they take us through their assessment journeys and challenges. Following the presentation will be a Q&A. This session includes:

UX research for a better candidate experience in end-point assessments (with Innovate Awarding)

For this session, we’re joined by Innovate Awarding’s Jessica Fowler who has been working closely with BTL on a recent collaboration to better understand the candidate experience, and how we can create better on-screen testing, through shared surveys.

Jessica will take us through who Innovate are and the work they do as an Ofqual regulated national awarding organisation and end-point assessment organisation specialising in qualifications in work and apprenticeships. Jessica will explore this process end-to-end, including why Innovation felt it was important to carry out this research project and what their goals were prior to beginning. We’ll hear about Innovation’s learnt lessons about the value of qualitative vs quantitative data and their chosen method for this research. Jessica will also take us through her team’s findings and how this will influence their approach towards delivering exams.

The road to Showdown: Using Surpass to deliver competitions (with Penske)

Join Penske’s Andy Howat as he explains how Penske used Surpass to create competition for their thousands of technicians: The Technical Showdown. So, who are they and what is the Showdown? Listen to Andy take us through Penske’s work and how they are using BTL’s technology to innovate their practices. We’ll learn about the Technical Showdown, who it’s for, its objectives and why Penske are challenging their technicians in both hands-on events and their online research abilities via on-screen testing.

Penske have a huge, US-national reach with thousands of technicians in 750 locations in America. As such, we’ll hear how Surpass has enabled them to remain flexible and inclusive by meeting their unique requirements and vision. Andy will take us through the technical applications of this project, including the testing process as well as Penske’s desire to have a distinct placing in the market and how Surpass was utilised to do this. Lastly, we’ll get an update from Andy of the Showdown’s progress and any results Penske have seen from their unique assessment methodology.

Assess Progress (with SQA)

In this presentation, Carolyn Kerr, SQA’s Digital Assessment Services Manager will talk through the recent collaboration between BTL and SQA on a new self-scheduling portal, ‘Assess Progress’, to support SQA’s candidates by streamlining the scheduling process.

Carolyn will discuss the need for the new platform, why their legacy platform was no longer suitable, the challenges faced, and why SQA chose to partner with BTL on the creation of a new portal. Committed to innovation and candidate efficiency, BTL and SQA developed the new Solar Assess Progress – a portal that allows candidates to access a platform to schedule themselves formative assessments. The session will explore the benefits of the new portal, what candidates have had to say about it and what’s in store for the future.

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4:20pm BST | 11:20am ET

Company update

Andy McAnulla – President, BTL Surpass
Jim Crawford – Business Development Director, BTL
Sonya Whitworth – Managing Director, BTL

Join this session to hear an update from Sonya Whitworth, Andy McAnulla and Jim Crawford about all the changes we’ve seen at BTL and in the assessment industry over the last 18 months. You’ll learn about our new global partnerships and how they have allowed us to provide assessment solutions to new regions and industries. We’ll also discuss how BTL has been supporting our customers’ move to hybrid delivery models that blend test centre delivery with remote proctoring options, through the huge expansion of BTL’s test delivery over the last 18 months, as we have continued to develop our flexible test administration options for customers and their candidates.

You’ll love this session if… you’d like to hear more about how the company has adapted over the last 18 months.

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4:35pm BST | 11:35am ET

Closing session

5:00pm BST | 12:00pm ET

Networking: Meet the teams

Meet representatives from teams at Surpass in our virtual networking space, Airmeet.

We recommend that you register ahead of time. If you need help, view our instructions on how to register and use Airmeet.

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Day 2 – Thursday 7 October

2:00pm BST | 9:00am ET

Opening welcome session

2:05pm BST | 9:05am ET

The Surpass release cycle: insight into the development process

John McGrath – Chief Product Officer, BTL Surpass
Rebecca Murdoch – Chief Quality Officer, BTL Surpass

In this session, John McGrath, our Chief Product Officer, and Becca Murdoch, our Chief Quality Officer, will provide details about how new developments and ideas are added to the Surpass platform, and describe the development methodologies that we employ to build these additions. We’ll walk you through how an idea becomes functionality, moving from change requests through to usable product innovations. Viewers will have the opportunity to ask questions about our development processes and learn how they can get involved in changes.

You’ll love this session if… you want to find out more about how a change request or idea goes from concept to a piece of live functionality within Surpass.

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2:30pm BST | 9:30am ET

Surpass Certification: Are you a Surpass expert?

Kat Murie – Product Trainer, BTL Surpass

In this session, join Kat from the Surpass Training team to find out more about the project to update the Surpass Certification, our knowledge validation assessment. Kat will outline what Surpass Certification is and discuss the work that the training team have done to implement a new and improved version. You will learn why becoming a certified user of Surpass can benefit you and your organisation and find out how to test your Surpass knowledge! Be sure to stay for a Q&A with Kat and her training team colleague Emma Jarvis after the session.

You’ll love this session if… you’re curious to see how your team’s Surpass knowledge holds up against the experts.

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2:55pm BST | 9:55am ET

The booking system: Our journey so far

Ceri Harper – Head of Test Delivery Services, BTL
Sue Palmer – Test Delivery Manager, Test Centre Network, BTL

In this session, Ceri Harper and Sue Palmer from our Test Delivery Services team will outline our Test Delivery services offering and explain why BTL decided to implement a booking portal. They will detail how we settled on our desired outcomes and how the solution was developed, including the user research and testing phases. Finally, Ceri and Sue will describe the current status of this project and what the next steps are to achieving this goal, before taking questions from the audience.

You’ll love this session if… you are interested in the new booking system we are implementing or want to know more about test delivery services.

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3:25pm BST | 10:25am ET

Surpass Community stories: Michigan Language Assessment and telc Language Tests

Gad Lim – Director of Assessment, Michigan Language Assessment
Sean McDonald – Project Manager, telc Language Tests

Hear from representatives from these Surpass community members as they take us through their assessment journeys and challenges, then join us for a Q&A session with our speakers after their presentations. This session includes:

Changing mode and model: The details and decision points in going digital (with Michigan Language Assessment)

Helping us understand how on-screen testing is being used to revolutionise language assessment, Michigan Language Assessment’s Gad Lim talks us through their experience making the change from paper-based test delivery, and how on-screen testing has opened doors to new opportunities in language assessment. Gad takes us through MLA’s processes of transforming their four skill exams (reading, writing, speaking and listening) from fixed-date paper tests to available-anytime digital offerings as well as their experience moving from linear to linear-on-the-fly (LOFT) testing.

Gad will describe the work MLA has done to achieve this outcome, including, required modifications to the design and display of the tests, the format, structure and quality assurance, and administration and scoring. The session will highlight key decision points that require especially thoughtful consideration, with a focus on the small, practical details of putting together on-screen language tests.

Can I test 24 languages before lunch? (with telc Language Tests)

Joined by Europe’s leading language learning and assessment provider, we’ll find out how telc are using Surpass to deliver on-screen language assessments in all 24 EU languages.

Project Manager, Sean McDonald, will discuss how the European Personnel office tasked telc with the large, complex project to provide language tests on all 24 EU languages. We’ll learn about all the considerations and technical specifications required to deliver this project. Sean will talk us through how telc have used Surpass to deliver this at scale and how our dedicated delivery team has helped telc make the project a success.

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4:20pm BST | 11:20am ET

Surpass Community Group update

Ben Brady – Marketing Manager, BTL
Emma Gilmartin – Senior Account Manager, BTL

The term ‘Surpass Community’ was originally given to our small user groups formed in the early days of Surpass’s development. Over time the term has grown to incorporate the network of thousands of people that regularly come together to collaborate, share and work together on the mission ‘to improve the assessment experience for everyone’. 2021 sees the launch of a new ‘Community’ committee within the Surpass team, which will be the central point for all Surpass Community events, such as webinars, user groups, our Innovation Hub and, of course, this conference.

In this session, join Emma and Ben from the Community Team as they share more about the goals of this new group. Of course, ultimately, the Surpass Community is you, and we would love to hear from you! Please send us your suggestions, let us know what you want to hear more of or what you would like to talk to the community about.

You’ll love this session if… you want to make the most of Surpass Community events and activities.

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4:30pm BST | 11:30am ET

Closing session

5:00pm BST | 12:00pm ET


Come along to this virtual networking session, and meet other conference delegates to share ideas and contacts. You’ll also have chance to see extraordinary magician Darren Delaney.

We recommend that you register ahead of time. If you need help, view our instructions on how to register and use Airmeet.
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Day 3 – Friday 8 October

2:00pm BST | 9:00am ET

Opening welcome session

2:05pm BST | 9:05am ET

Keynote 2: Dr Mike Goodfellow-Smith

Sustainable education and the wealth of nations

Dr Mike Goodfellow-Smith – Director at Quest for Future Solutions

Opening day 3, Dr Mike Goodfellow-Smith is a Director of sustainability consultancy firm, Quest for Future Solutions, an academic lecturer and researcher at several universities across the UK, and a mentor and trainer in the EU entrepreneurial programmes ‘Climate KIC’ and ‘Climate Launchpad’.

In his session he will cover topics including:

  • How your students and the next generation of entrepreneurs are making a difference, and why this matters.
  • Why should sustainability be an urgent consideration for your organisation?
  • How other organisations are taking action, including Manchester United and the Green Sports Alliance.
  • Life stories on sustainable action from around the globe.

You’ll then be able to bring your questions to a live Q+A.

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3:00pm BST | 10:00am ET

Take advantage of the Surpass Test Conversion Service

Ashleigh Whittle – Training Manager, BTL
Bhavini Patel – Head of Question Bank, Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK
Lynne Shindoll – Senior Project Manager, American Academy of Neurology

In this session, Ashleigh will introduce you to our Test Conversion Service, supporting Surpass community members with item creation and migration projects, content analysis and guidance on Surpass use, exam composition and publishing, and quality review of the candidate experience.

Ashleigh will be joined by Lynne Shindoll (American Academy of Neurology) and Bhavini Patel (Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK), both of whom have first-hand of utilising the Test Conversion Service, to talk about their experiences and what the service allowed them to achieve.

For those with questions about how Surpass Test Conversion can help you, Ashleigh will be available after the session for a live Q&A.

You’ll love this session if… you require support with item creation, building tests, or general assessment composition.

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3:30pm BST | 10:30am ET

Surpass Community stories: Cambridge & OCR, NCFE and Dainis

Amanda Dainis – Chief Executive Officer, Dainis
Hannah Spry – Senior Stakeholder Relations Manager, Cambridge University Press & Assessment
Phil Cowen – Business Change Manager, OCR
Toni Brooks – QA Assessment Platform Manager, NCFE

Join representatives from these Surpass community members as they take us through their assessment journeys and challenges. There will be a Q&A session with our speakers after their presentations. This session includes:

The big picture: Cambridge & OCR (with Cambridge University Press & Assessment and OCR)

We’re delighted to chat to Hannah Spry and Phil Cowen as they share background about their organisations and how Surpass is being used to facilitate on-screen assessments for OCR and Cambridge University Press & Assessment.

We’ll learn about OCR’s journey with Surpass, including their migration to Surpass Release 12 and later to HTML. Phil will walk us through the technical process of migration, including their detailed review procedures, opportunities for migration, lessons learnt from the process and future plans. We’ll also hear about how Surpass has helped meet Cambridge’s requirements for high-stake, secure admission testing and what this means for Cambridge University Press & Assessment in the future.

Exploring validity models in Surpass (with Dainis)

Dr. Dainis will present a validity model for credentialing exams and discuss how the Surpass platform supports the model. Topics covered will include job task analysis, content creation, standard setting, and operational maintenance of exams. The session will be followed by a Q&A with Dr. Dainis, who will answer any questions surrounding the validity support process and the Surpass platform.

Our online invigilation story (with NCFE)

Join NCFE’s Toni Brooks as she talks us through an overview of what NCFE (Northern Council for Further Education), has been doing over the last 12 months, how they have progressed with Remote Invigilation, and what they will be focussing on over the next 12 months.

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4:30pm BST | 11:30am ET

Closing session