At the end of last year, an ITS team member attended one of our favorite assessment competitions, the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship, where students showcase their expert-level command of the Microsoft Office product suite. The results can be life-changing: winners earn monetary scholarships, and all participants can build their resumes and find paths to new opportunities and careers.
The event is normally held in places like Disney World or New York City, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the competition from happening in 2020. After that disappointment, it was obvious to everyone involved that the show must go on in 2021. And it did! With the pandemic still a major consideration, the competition was hosted virtually for the first time.
We were so excited to join the event this year and see firsthand the positive impact it has on these young participants.
The Virtual Competition
The competition attracts highly motivated and passionate students. They spend countless hours studying and competing regionally before attending the Championship. In 2021, more than 200,000 contestants from 108 countries entered the regional competitions. The 160 finalists who participated in the Championship came from 33 countries.
To adapt the competition to a remote environment, the Championship assessment was delivered in two parts: the first was a timed exam and the second was a research project and presentation using Microsoft Office. Both parts needed to be compatible with virtual delivery on a global scale.
ITS collaborated with Microsoft and Certiport, hosts of the competition, on the timed exam. Using our reliable, internet-based software, we fairly delivered exams to students in Brazil, Greece, Nigeria, China, and many more countries. Students competed at the exact same time, and there was no need to worry about technology performance issues. We may not have been able to cheer the students on in person, but we were glad the competition continued and enabled so many students to pursue this goal of theirs.
The Awards Ceremony
In a typical year, when the winners are announced at the end of the Championship, each student parades across the stage with their country’s flag in hand, while teachers and family members jump from their seats, cheering and clapping.
Though this year’s celebrations couldn’t take place in person, Microsoft and Certiport did everything in their power to make the event feel just as special. We watched the virtual awards ceremony knowing that students were eagerly waiting to hear the results. When the winners were called, we knew that bursts of excitement were happening on the other side of our screens, even if we couldn’t see or hear them.
Those of us in the industry who attended the event were inspired by the drive and talent we saw. Like the teachers and families watching, we felt proud of each student who participated. This competition, so full of joy, reminds us of the importance of assessment and its ability to make a difference in people’s lives.
Congratulations to all of the students on their hard work! And congratulations to Microsoft and Certiport on another inspiring competition!