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Educators refashioned their examination approach after the pandemic impacted assessment continuity, whether they catered to a small batch of students or thousands of college-goers across diverse streams.
We bring you inspiring stories of 5 global universities- International School of Business (ISB), Howard University (the USA), Christ University (Bangalore), PIP UNPAD (Indonesia), and various IIMs- that explored the online medium of assessments to make a successful transition.
The shift from ‘offline’ to ‘online’ was not an extremely challenging proposition for them. However, these institutions had to overcome their stakeholders’ real and perceived concerns to transform the various aspects of education with a practical solution. But, what challenges do you think deterred institutions, academicians and learners from adopting online exams? These entities were well-versed with and appreciated the advantages the online examination ecosystem accrued. Therefore, they were not averse to change and to adopt new ways of examination. So then, what do you think complicated the transition?
These are important questions, and you must know their answers to understand how some of the leading educational entities have undertaken that remarkable pivot in the past two years.
We have the answers for you!
This document elucidates five major barriers that the institutions mentioned above confronted in adopting the online exam approach. How did they address the challenge of continuity amid an unprecedented crisis of the pandemic, and what resource enabled them to rebuild their effective learning environments? This document has all the answers!
So, let’s begin by identifying five shared problems that top universities worldwide faced, since the onset of the contagion, in onboarding digital technology for exams.
Academia sought to administer online exams and scouted for an agile platform to modulate a sizable number of students and several courses remotely. Hence, they warranted an exam console that helped them design reliable and diverse exam question papers and manage tests with verifiable analytics for insights. Besides, they also mandated a credible, scalable and easy-to-use system. However, systems on the market could not address these needs cumulatively, hindering their desired transition to the online domain.
For instance, faculty at IIM Bangalore spent precious hours creating question banks and formats to test applicants’ capabilities. Hence, it needed a dynamic and versatile end-to-end examination system that supported multiple question types and exam formats without any operational complexities and delivered more prudent, transparent and efficient results.
Preventing academic dishonesty and negating issues arising during online exams were academia’s priorities worldwide. Knowing they were unsupervised, besides location constraints and lack of real-time supervision, meant some students could commit academic misconduct. So how could institutions ensure a transparent and fair exam process and results? Furthermore, the absence of a multi-layered proctoring system to create a strict and uniform exam environment according to established guidelines and norms made it challenging to adopt online exams.
For instance, Howard University’s foremost requirement was onboarding live proctors. Its staff usually invested significant time in proctoring individual candidates via the Zoom app. Hence, it sought live proctors to monitor multiple applicants simultaneously while actively assuaging concerns in real-time.
Another thought that vexed many educators was technical glitches and intermittent internet connectivity. Unpredictable and intermittent internet coverage globally could mar the experience of giving and taking online exams. Hence, they faced a severe challenge in finding a system that was accessible to every applicant and faculty, even at the remotest of corners, at a large scale, with minimal bandwidth and maximum technical prowess.
For instance, PIP UNPAD Indonesia mandated a stable internet connection for all applicants, spread across the country’s 17,000 islands, since these islands did not offer seamless and consistent internet coverage.
The integrity of any assessment is paramount for an institution, irrespective of its size, as even minor misconduct can tarnish its reputation built over time. However, that online exams compromised academic integrity was an unfounded notion. Instead, it was a fallacious presumption that the likelihood of academic dishonesty would be high, with no oversight on exam-takers. It, therefore, caused concern about whether the most deserving students would get promoted or admissions, hindering the adoption of online exams.
For instance, the Indian School of Business (ISB) pursued all academic endeavors with integrity, which was intrinsic to its professional conduct. Hence, it wanted an online solution that was resilient against academic misconduct and data breaches, such as loss or theft and identity falsification.
While many of us may have adjusted to the new ‘normal’ of employing online mediums for assessments and education, many students can find the process of online exams a unique experience. So numerous questions around time management, the unease of writing online, technical distractions and navigation difficulties are legitimate concerns. Furthermore, the absence of an online examination software that would ease these concerns and focus on seamless user experience and reduced efforts created some resistance in their adoption.
For instance, academia at CHRIST University mandated a rational solution that offered students a seamless writing experience in their preferred formats for quantitative and qualitative questions. Students were tech proficient, but not everyone could type fast and manage their efficiency online for the entire duration of exams, given their distinct types.
Hosting online exams may have posed several challenges. But these educational entities are now experts at administering online exams for several courses. So, how did they solve their pressing problems and ensure continuity?
Let’s look at the solution that paved the way for online mediums’ quick and seamless adoption.
ISB, Howard University, Christ University, PIP UNPAD and various IIMs shared the advantage of an advanced online examination software system that offered them solutions. The system also offered an eclectic combination of location-agnostic, robust anti-cheating features, proctored supervision and stand-alone services. Its applications enabled their administrations to host highly secure online examinations with high integrity.
Here’s a solution that eliminated their problems:
If we are comfortable learning online, we should also be comfortable giving exams online. Moreover, exams do not have an effective or practical alternative. A sizable majority of educators recognize this reality now. And you must, too, if you envision a qualitatively superior and disruption-proof ecosystem.
Originally published November 29 2021, Updated November 30 2021
Shirisha has been helping countless brands gain traction with her content. Her deep understanding of the education sector and sound knowledge of technical skills have helped her structure the most creative solutions for key stakeholders. Shirisha has also ghosted pieces for several industry honcho’s successfully published both online and offline. When she's not keeping up with the world, you're sure to find her catching up on bollywood stories or gramming for fun.
Online examination, also known as virtual examination, is conducted remotely on a computer with high-speed internet. Like a classroom exam, it is time-bound and usually supervised through a webcam and proctor, making it cheating-free, secure and easily scalable.