The Value of Community in Building an Innovative Assessment Platform

By 18 September 2019February 11th, 2020Surpass Community

People who are considered as a unit because of their common interests or shared experiences.

Surpass Community:
A growing group of international testing professionals who use the Surpass Platform or offer services to its users.

Why is Community so important?

You probably hear us talk about Community a lot at BTL, but that’s because we think it’s so important and invest a lot of time in bringing users of Surpass together. In this article we’ll discuss why community plays such a key role for BTL and Surpass, what the benefits of being part of an active community are, and how you ensure you’re getting the most from being part of the Surpass Community.

Community plays a vital role in all aspects of our lives, whether that’s the area in which we live, supporting a particular football team, or being a member of a club or association. Being part of a community gives us the opportunity to build relationships and learn from likeminded community members. But do we place the same importance on being part of a community of users of a particular product or service and the benefits that can have?

Organisations come to BTL because they primarily see a solution in Surpass that meets their individual business requirements. At the time of writing, the Surpass Community is made up of 39 organisations delivering assessments in 144 countries and across all areas of education and certification, including medicine, finance, languages and law to name just a select few. These organisations have contributed to the delivery of over 25 million on-screen tests, so with such a wealth of expertise and experience at our fingertips it would be a missed opportunity if that wasn’t shared. After all, we’ve all got the same end goal in mind – to provide the best possible assessment experience.

“The Surpass community elevates the conversation in the assessment industry to address important issues at the intersection of emerging technology and advancements in assessment. The level of collaboration between members is energizing and the eclectic contributions result in the implementation of well-rounded solutions in Surpass. It’s exciting to be part of a vibrant community that is truly improving the assessment experience for everyone.”

Ibidun Layi-Ojo, Prometric

What are the benefits of being part of an active community?

City & Guilds benefit from being part of the Surpass Community by being able to talk to other people going through the same type of experiences, requirements and changes in the industry.

Granville Edwards, City and Guilds

There are many benefits of being part of the Surpass Community, including:

  • Learning from each other: Discussing challenges can often result in finding others who have experienced and overcome the same thing.
  • Faster progress: In a fast paced and dynamic industry, by working together we can take greater steps forward, more quickly.
  • Collaboration: By sharing ideas you can find other organisation with the same vision, and potentially collaborate on feature development. Read our article on a recent successful collaboration project.
  • Outside perspectives: Access to a ready-made group of likeminded individuals with whom you can facilitate discussions outside of your own organisation.
  • Feedback: The more active voices we have, the better understanding we gain of your needs and challenges so we can remain at the cutting-edge of assessment technology.

How do BTL contribute to the wider assessment community?

BTL are the facilitators of the Surpass Community, but we take an active role in the wider assessment community too. We understand the importance of being part of the community, not simply providing technology to it, which contributes to our customers seeing working with BTL as a partnership, not simply a client/vendor relationship.

It’s impossible to create a product that meets the current and future needs of an industry, without knowing that industry. A factor that has made us stand out to customers, giving confidence and trust in our organisation and product.

“BTL were the only ones who really understood testing… I saw that you understood assessment and that was quite impressive.

Sean McDonald, telc

Several BTL employees hold positions within high-profile assessment organisations and regularly contribute to the ongoing discussions around assessment technology, including:

Emma Hall

Emma Hall: Emma is a Business Development Manager at BTL and was elected to the board of the eAssessment Association in 2018. Emma has over 8 years of experience in e-assessment and during that time has worked closely with organisations on how they can make the best use of technology, whilst understanding the challenges that moving to a new assessment system can involve.

Tim Burnett

Tim Burnett: As Head of Marketing at BTL Tim has well-established relationships with all members of the Surpass Community. Tim is on the eAssessment Association Executive Committee and also leads their Remote Proctoring Special Interest Group. Tim takes an active interested in the implementation of edtech and the opportunities facing the future of education and its ongoing relationship with technology.

Ben Brady

Ben Brady: Ben works as Cross-Channel Marketer at BTL, but is also on this year’s EATP steering committee and ATP marketing committee. These are important roles as they bring together all the organisations across the globe that either support or service the assessment sector. Working as part of these teams, Ben is able to build awareness of global trends in assessment and help shape an important event in our community’s calendar.

Barry Porter

Barry Porter: After many years in the Account Management team at BTL’s UK office, after a move to the states Barry is now VP Account Management for BTL Surpass. Barry is BTL’s representative at the regular Certification Network Group (CNG) meetings in Chicago and Washington. Having a representative with a sound understanding of European assessment activity in such a discussion-rich environment helps us to learn and share from each other’s experiences.

Keith Myers

Keith Myers: is BTL Group’s CEO and actively networks with assessment professionals by attending conferences in the UK and the United States. Keith also leads the way in forging new relationships at events that BTL, or other members of the Surpass Community have not explored before. Please speak to Keith at the Surpass Conference if you are interested in new markets.

Engage with the Surpass Community at these key events:

Surpass Conference logo

The Surpass Conference

The largest gathering of the Surpass Community happens every year at the Surpass Conference, which has now become one of the biggest events for the assessment sector in the UK.

It’s now in its 12th year, but did you know that the Surpass Conference began life as small user group sessions, where a small number of representatives from customer organisations would gather round a table to discuss requirements for Surpass?

Since those early days, it’s evolved into a two-day event with nearly 150 delegates, who come together to not only shape the future of Surpass, but to collaborate on common goals, share challenges and experiences, and ultimately improve the assessment experience for everyone.

This year promises to be one of the best yet. In addition to members of the community sharing their experiences using Surpass we will be joined by keynote speaker Olly Newton, Director of Policy and Research at The Edge Foundation who will speak to the Community about global change within the jobs sector, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And to keep our minds focused on the future and the challenge of bridging the gap between technology in learning and assessment, we’ll be joined by global podcasters, the EduFuturists, with Ben, Dan and Steven informing us about all the exciting technology being used in schools. Find out more about the conference programme on the website.

“Each year BTL host an excellent user conference – to my mind it stands out from most conferences in this field because of the diversity of attendees and presentations it attracts. Surpass has an extremely diverse user base, covering vocational qualification assessment, professional certification, higher education and school assessments from users based worldwide. Representatives from all these fields (and countries) come together and share experiences of designing, developing and delivering assessments using the platform, making it a great place to find examples of good practice and make contact with your peers.”

Gavin Busuttil-Reynaud, AlphaPlus
Association of Test Publishers logo

European Association of Test Publishers Conference (EATP), Madrid, Spain

The Surpass Community will have a strong presence at this year’s EATP Conference in Madrid, Spain.

Simon Trevers, Senior Solutions architect at BTL will be hosting a session on ‘Best Practice with BYOD in High-Stakes summative Assessment’, while Richard London, Head of Design will inspire on the topic of on ‘The Democratisation of the User Experience’ where he’ll discuss the importance of involving users in the design process.

Belinda Brunner, Chair of EATP and Director of Testing at Inteleos, commented on how events such as EATP are important for the community, saying,

“Communities mean knowledge, insight and sharing. The USA and European Association of Test Publisher’s conferences are key events in the assessment calendar which provide me with an opportunity to get these things. Held in March and September respectively, delegates attend from across the globe to contribute to this community gathering.”

Belinda Brunner, Chair of EATP and Director of Testing at Inteleos

Are you an active Surpass Community member?

Here’s just some of the things you can do to stay engaged with the Surpass Community:

  • Sign up to the Surpass Conference for excellent networking opportunities and engaging presentations and workshops.
  • Check out our events page to see where else the Surpass Community will have a presence.
  • Watch Surpass webinars to learn about the latest developments in Surpass and some insights into the BTL teams.
  • Share your requests for assistance with the community with a ‘Community Callout’.
  • Listen to our new Podcast channel for interviews and discussions.
  • Get in touch if you’ve got something you’d like to share with the Community via a webinar, article, Q&A or Podcast. Contact your Account Manager or

What have you gained from being part of the Surpass Community? We’d love to hear about it!

Community related resources and recommendations:

Open by David Price
Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block

Kialo (A free to use Crowd Sourcing debating platform)

Virtual Communities & Associations:
Value of Testing (LinkedIn Group)
e-Assessment Association

Podcasting Channels:
Surpass Community Assessment Podcast
Association Chat Podcast (based in the USA)
Trends & Issues in Instructional Design, Educational Technology, and Learning Sciences