What are scored labs?

Scored labs are hands-on, virtual training labs that are scored or graded. Scored labs provide you the ability to objectively validate a learner’s actions and skills against real on-the-job tasks and outcomes at scale.

With these types of labs/item types, you can task learners to “show what they know” in a live environment that then measures and scores their actions against desired outcomes. 

Traditionally, scoring has been a time intensive manual process, but with the growing accessibility of powerful scoring engines, organizations are automating the scoring process. As a result, they are enabling learning and development stakeholders to now more quickly and effectively gauge a learners’ skill level, provide additional coaching and determine whether they are job ready.

There are also performance labs which are a rapidly growing hands-on item type used in high-stakes skills validation and performance testing (PBT). We’ll cover these in an upcoming separate article.

If you’re new to hands-on virtual labs, also known as virtual IT labs, we recommend you download our free “How to Get Started with Virtual Labs” introductory guide.

Why are scored labs a force multiplier for learning and development?

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated an already urgent learning and development (L&D) challenge: building the right capabilities for the future of the workforce. According to the World Economic Forum, more than one billion people will need significant digital reskilling by 2030. This is driving organizations worldwide to find more effective methods of assessing, developing and verifying employees’ technical skills if they want to thrive.

To do this, organizations are looking to revamp their training programs, supplementing traditional approaches to training (i.e., PowerPoint presentations, video courses, lectures, etc.) with hands-on methods such as sandboxes, simulations and virtual training labs. The demand for hands-on experiential learning is becoming increasingly popular as they enable users to practice skills in a safe live environment designed to build job readiness.

Virtual labs provide invaluable hands-on practice; yet, the process of assessing and verifying digital technology skills cannot be accomplished through hands-on practice alone. Adding scored labs to hands-on experiences enable L&D teams to validate that learners can properly apply what they’ve learned in training. This provides a more quantifiable approach to workforce skills development and leads to a more intentional and adaptive training programs and sets learners up for success.

Hands on learning virtual lab report score card.
Hands on learning virtual training lab score card for high performers.
Hands on learning virtual training lab report score card for needs improvement learners.

End-of-lab score reports provide learner-specific feedback and recommended areas for improvement while L&D teams can analyze organization-specific skill data at scale.

This is just one example of what’s possible on Skillable’s platform.

Scored lab use cases for assessing and validating skill development.

Item types such as scored labs can be used in a variety of ways, including:

knowledge check light bulb
Knowledge checks
activity-based assessment
Activity-based Assessments (ABAs)
pre assessments
certification exam test prep
Certification exams
practice exams
Practice exams
end of course assessments
End-of-module or end-of-course assessments

Each lab is powered by a robust scoring engine that tracks the changes users make within the environment. These advanced, yet accessible scripts, automatically check a learner’s work against specific outcomes and provide them with a score based on their efforts. When automated, this allows L&D teams to spend more time supporting learners and/or improving training materials.

Incorporating scored labs helps you break free from relying solely on multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and true/false questions, resulting in a more accurate skills assessment.

The strategic benefits of using scored labs in training curricula and learning paths.

The use of traditional labs (also called step-by-step labs) provides learners with a limited environment or simulation to practice their skills. While users do get the chance to practice these skills hands-on, scored labs can accelerate the pace of skilling by continuously assessing, developing and validating learners’ skills. This results in several benefits, including:

gauge skills with labs

Helps gauge training program efficacy

The results provided by scored labs highlights how learners are progressing through the learning lifecycle. L&D leaders can identify where improvements need to made training materials, which learners need additional instruction and if they need adjust future skilling plans. This insight is provided automatically via a scored report, enabling organizations to adjust training focus and needs.

Enhances abilities for targeted skill development

Using data from hands-on assessments, L&D teams can make more real-time and proactive decisions on where additional skilling is needed. Thus, they can create more targeted, organizational-specific learning to more effectively close skills gaps and improve learners’ overall skills.

hiring and screen process with labs

Improves the hiring and screening process

Bad hires happen (approximately 80% of employee turnover is due to poor hiring decisions), and replacing bad hires is time-consuming and expensive.

Asking candidates to show that they have your “must-have skills” in a live lab environment such as Skillable Challenges verifies that individuals have the skills they say they do. This gives hiring managers more time to focus on other elements such as culture and team fit.

automate scoring with scored lab scripts

Automates lab grading and scoring 

Say goodbye to time-intensive manual grading! By automating scoring, roles such as Instructors, training managers and technical trainers have more time to help learners develop skills, coach through skills gaps and improve training materials. This leads to a more adaptable, agile, tailored and robust skilling program.

Who uses scored labs for skill validation?

Microsoft and CompTIA are examples of organizations that are incorporating performance-based scored labs into their certification exams and training programs. This move to Performance Testing (PBT) (formerly called performance-based testing) should not come as a surprise.

A certification represents that an individual has proven his or her knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) in the subject matter. Vendors want their certifications to be viewed as valuable, with regard, and, above all, as credible. If a technology professional earned a certification because they found an exam dump or crammed but they cannot actually apply KSAs on the job, it reflects poorly on the credentialing organization.

Another example of how organizations use scored labs.

Use scored labs to remove manual tasks from Instructors and subject matter experts (SMEs). Quest Software incorporated scored labs and eliminated 8-12 hours per week of manual tasks for their SMEs so they could focus on more immediate revenue generating opportunities.

Learn more about how Quest Software uses automated skill validation and scored labs to decrease costs.

Quest Software uses skill validation for partner enablement.

Scored labs: the most effective way to validate skills at scale.

Don’t fall into the trap that “completed training” means people are job ready. Would you let a surgeon operate on you who took a class but hasn’t had any hands-on practice?

Scored labs take the guesswork out of skill development by adding more value to hands-on training labs. Employers can verify candidates and employees’ skills to ensure they’re the right fit for a specific position as well as equip teams with the right people. The data provided by scored reports provides businesses with visibility into current skills, empowering them to improve methods of assessing, developing and validating skills.

Hands-on experiences, such as the ones Skillable can help you build, feature robust scoring tools that accelerate skills development. Our tools go beyond simple ‘pass/fail’ exams and delve deep into learners’ actions, enabling you to improve training and skills development. From measuring skills against real-world tasks and outcomes to real-time Instructor monitoring. Skillable’s hands-on experiences ensure trainees have completely mastered skills.

Happy young lady smiling while working on a computer.

Get in touch with the scored lab experts to learn more or get started.

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