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Online Examinations

The Way Forward sheena joseph

The online examination system is rendered attractive to both students and the faculty due to the decrease in the paper-work time involved and the added benefit of receiving immediate feedback. Online examinations bring about a reduction in costs and improve efficiency and quality of the correction process. Due to an increase in the number of students and exams, many higher education institutions are considering a shift from paper based examinations to electronic computer based environment. With the number of academic and competitive examinations on the rise, the level of interest for adopting online examination process has been high among many university administrators. Online or electronic examinations are still at a nascent stage for the Indian Universities. It would involve bringing about gradual but considerable changes in the educational examination traditions. A long term system, that will also be sustainable and efficient, will be based upon surmounting the barriers that exist in the form of infrastructure, technical support and methodology adopted. Some of the necessary steps include provision of adequate PC pool,

procuring relevant software, meaningfully integrating with the curriculum and proper implementation of examination regulations. What Stakeholders say According to Dr R P Singh, Vice Chancellor, Sharda University, “Online examinations are the future of the examination process in India. The entire education system in this country is based on exams and if we talk about educational reforms, it must necessarily also entail a reform of the examination system. The transition must therefore begin with the examination process itself, because

Study Report Examinations and the Role of Technology: Emerging Directions, an initiative by MeritTrac, a research report published by EDGE-Value Notes, has given positive feedback on the online examination trends. • According to the survey covering over 75 university VCs/Registrars/Controllers of Examination (CoE) and 400-odd students across the country , 70% of all VCs/Registrars/CoEs indicated that they are considering introducing online examinations and 68% of these respondents indicated that they will do this in the next 6-36 months. 69% of all students, particularly those from Tier III cities, felt that universities that conduct online exams are more technically advanced. • The top three priorities in exam management are faster results, greater transparency, and student authentication/higher security. Respondents said these will have the most impact on their decision to go online. The study also includes a student perception survey – covering 400 students across several Tier I, II & III cities, to understand how students feel about online exams. The survey indicates that students too are positively inclined towards online examinations, despite concerns being raised by skeptics. It is also notable to observe that students in the Tier III cities were more positive about such exams.


if we change the assessment process in the education system, the change will be reflected in the entire structure. Online examinations, as it is perceived today, is mostly related to multiple choice questions. But it is not necessarily so. Several online examination processes also provide scope for subjective assessments as well.” In terms of psychological barriers, he says, “Most of us who use technology would also be open to technology based reforms, However, for those who are not too tech savvy, the prospect of online examinations may look adverse. However, I must say that these fears have to be dispelled. Technology has to be embraced in the education process and it has to begin with the examination process.” According to Dr Sarabjit Singh, Principal, Apeejay College of Engineering, “The entire learning and teaching process requires that what we learn also has to be tested for outcomes. Assessment of the learning process is therefore crucial. Quality of imparting test is important in order to ascertain the advantages and limitations of the education system. Specifically for MBA and Engineering courses, what we teach has to be objective, measurable and achievable. For any new assessment system, teachers also need to be trained to make question banks and also address the intricacies of the online examination system. Infrastructure and technology enablement are the primary requirements that educational institutes would have

Study Report In a study of German Universities that have adopted online system of examinations, it was observed that the standardised examination administration process is being supported by the Internetbased examination and course management systems. According to the study, some of the potential obstacles related to the transfer of examination procedures from a paper and pencil scenario into a computer-based environment were: • Organisation of on-screen examination settings: planning of simultaneous and of delayed exams, room planning with regard to PC pools and the number of available PC workstations, instruction of staff, establishing test centres, etc. • Conceptual design and methodology of exams: design of examinations and planning of the exam process (generation of test item pools, designing exams along available question types, securing consistent levels of difficulty, etc.), computerbased preparation of the examination (conception and carrying out of practice exams and tests for the purpose of exercising, etc.) • Examination technology and tools: guaranteeing an interference-free and fraudprotected examination process, considering test tool-based intolerance against orthographic or other minor mistakes in the automatic exam correction process, etc. • Judicial requirements: setting up reliable authorisation procedures, guaranteeing a perennial verifiability of results, adding the new exam forms to formal curriculum and exams regulations, etc.

to look into for new initiatives such as these.” Significant reorganisation is required for any move towards an online system. This includes familiarising the lecturers, students, IT support staff, administrative staff and examiners about the changes

What are the opportunities and potential benefits of online examinations for Universities across India? 13 million students, 21,000 colleges, 425+ Universities and 200 million exams - and less than 0.5 million exams using technology in some form or the other! These sets of statistics sums up the opportunities and the crying need to introduce automation in one of the most visible processes of the education system – Examinations. Technology impacts two critical aspects of Madan Padaki examinations – efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency is Co- Founder and CEO, MeritTrac Services Pvt Ltd about doing thing right – operational issues like security of test forms, ease of administration of exams, accuracy of evaluation and speed of announcing results are all efficiency benefits that accrue by using technology. Effectiveness is to do with doing the right things – examinations are about measuring learning outcomes accurately and consistently. We have been using proxies for measuring such outcomes in the forms of tests, using subjective and objective type of questions. Are there better methods to measure such outcomes which are more real-time? Technology plays a vital role in designing assessments that use simulations, serious games, role-plays, etc as critical indicators of learning outcomes. Therefore, the potential benefits of embracing technology for our examinations processes are immense! Do you think that the users including administrators, faculty and students are trained to be using the online examination process? There are two levels of awareness that needs to be created amongst the stakeholders- viz. administrators, faculty and students. The first level of awareness is about the application of technology itself, the benefits that is brings and creating a positive mind-set for adopting technology. This is a critical first-step for increasing the usage of technology for examinations. Then comes the second level of awareness in using the technology itself. This is an easier issue to address as most of the testing systems are designed from a perspective of simple user interfaces and workflows. Especially for a population that is fairly tech savvy, getting them acclimatised on the online examination systems is relatively easy. What are your suggestions to University administrators interested in introducing online examination process? As a transition towards introducing online examination process, we see the following discrete steps that would help Universities achieve this objective: Step 1: Begin by automating parts of the entire paper-pencil exam process. We have typically seen application processing for entrance exams or registration process for end-term exams being taken online. Today there are services/products available that automate the authentication process using biometrics, applications that automate the question bank management within Universities, etc. Step 2: Expose your examinations team and the institution administration team to various technology options that are available in the market. This could be participating in online testing conferences/seminars, organising demos to your teams from various service providers, etc. Step 3: Identify a smaller exam as a pilot run for online exams and engage with an partner to deliver this pilot online. This will give you an clear insight into the processes that you need to manage an online exam and will also boost the confidence of the team for having successfully delivered an online exam Step 4: Plan out a roadmap for migrating all of your exam processes online. In creating such a roadmap, one has to consider the ground realities in the speed of transition, the costs involved and the expertise required for this migration.

in the workflow. The need of the hour is a smooth operation of the examination process. This would involve a tougher interconnection of IT infrastructures, and in particular, a flexible data exchange between campus management systems,

learning management systems, and examination tools. To add to it, significant foresight is required to inculcate the cultural change related with the execution of new administration workflows and to deal with substantial reorganisation processes. \\ digital LEARNING

JUNE 2010


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