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Assessment Technology   | 10 Min Read

Online Examinations

Written By Divyeshwari Singh

Online examination are the future of education. With the advent of technology, the idea of pen & paper is slowly becoming redundant and will soon be wiped off for a better, newer advanced system of online testing. The package of reachability, scalability, and security makes online examination the most desirable.

The Advent of Online Examination

The Conventional Pen-Paper Procession Begins with extended discussions on paper creation. Burning the midnight oil comes to life in the eleventh hour where everyone scans through everything. The questions are handwritten/ typed, proofread and again checked for repetition. Once your efforts pay off in the form of a beautifully designed paper, don’t take a sigh of relief, and now is when the real efforts begin. Get set to find the invigilators and space for conducting the exams.

Once you have accomplished everything perfectly and crossed your fingers for no retest and paper leakage is when you are ready to evaluate children, how? Of course manually. The chai and samosa on the exam day are not worth the efforts teachers spend hunting down the cheaters and once that’s done think about the tireless checking which is another herculean task.

Straining, stressing, draining, isn’t it? What if I give a solution? Will you believe me? But before you do, educate yourself about what it is & how it works- The Online examination.

The Definition

Online examination, as the name suggests uses the internet to conduct tests/assessments, where the candidates are evaluated on a fully automated platform. It supports an easy to use interface for not only the test takers but also the conductors. In addition, the ability to generate immediate results is a sought after feature that saves time.

The Taxonomy of Online Exams

The users of e-assessments can be classified into 3 broad categories. The supervisors, test conductors, and takers.

  • The ones who manage the system users, the tests, system back-up, and recovery are the supervisors.
  • The ones who prepare the subjects, tests and questions are the conductors.
  • The ones who sit for the assessment to get evaluated are the test-takers. 

Online Revolution comes to Education

With the advent of technology as the world seems to digitalize and shift everything online from food to clothes to rides, nothing remains untouched not even education. The pervasiveness of technology like laptops, computers have made the transition to online system easy.

Universities, schools, and various educational institutions have progressed and adapted to some kind of learning management system (LMS), where a software application tracks, reports, administers and documents various material required to be given to students. This teaching and evaluation system is facilitating a balanced approach of spreading knowledge as well as an ease of grading the candidates.

The Era of pen-paper is ending

“A report by Google & KPMG forecasts that by 2021, the market for online education will be worth 1.96 million$, which is a huge jump from 247 million$ in 2016.”

The online industry is growing at a fast pace. Think about it-what is making it so famous and widespread? People are not fools, who just shift to something blindly, there is always a reason. Many factors play a role, it could be the convenience, the increased reachability and above all the customization. Think, think again.

Established evaluation techniques are slowly reaching their limits, soon they will become obsolete and if we don’t plan to change with it, there is nothing much we will be left with. A revolution has begun in the way people perceive learning and soon these trends will come into vogue with full force. So change, change to survive.

It has been predicted that soon technology will embrace the educational sector, leaving no space for pen-paper. And why shouldn’t it? Considering all the advantages offered, why fear? But everyone has their own share of apprehensions and it is mandatory to address them. In the following section, we will be discussing the extent to which online examinations have spread in the arena of education and what are the various challenges faced by these groups.

The Troubled Tasks

We all are yearning for a system that instills our faith in examinations. Quite clearly we are losing our confidence in the current pen-paper assessments, which appears to be no longer fit. Let us look at what dwindles the confidence of schools, colleges, universities and training institutes in the traditional system of evaluation and marking.

  • The entrance exams exertion

The more sought after the university the more applications to screen. Every year, the universities are flooded with applications for various courses screening them through with written tests is a costly affair. In addition to this, a lot of effort gets consumed in shortlisting physical test facilities, added to this is the burden of making arrangements of invigilators, who are supposed to proctor far off test locations.

The institutes face considerable challenges in managing the logistics and financial burden that comes in a package deal with the pen & paper. Disrupting the daily college life of the students to make space for exam centers adds the cherry on top.

  • The semester setback

Imagine the plight of universities during exam days, it’s not only an evaluation of the students’ learnings but also the faculty, who are expected to manage and organize the examinations successfully. Accommodating hundreds of pupils: converting gyms & auditoriums into exam halls, looking for invigilators to proctor them, checking papers for hours and days to get the result out. Revaluation is another big concern, students often dissatisfied with the checking want their papers to be rechecked which would be nothing less than an added burden for the teachers and the authenticity can still be a question mark for the students.

  • The pre-placement perplexity

Once students are ready to graduate from colleges but before they do, comes the moment of placement drives, where there is an influx of companies looking to hire people. For hiring what’s required is assessments and again the age-old tradition of wasted time, effort, money begins.

  • The reluctance

Satisfied with the old ways of life, anything new alerts our question asking antennas. A reluctance to change makes us question the good and find fault with the system. We do all this just to remain in our comfort zone, talking of reluctance let me explain the consequences with an example.

We all are aware of Kodak, it was a name that resonated as the world’s largest film manufacturer. Where is it now? Do the millennials even know about it? Why did it lose its spot?

Hit by the wave of digitalization, they weren’t agile enough to adapt to the needs and changing times, they loved their space but then that’s not how it works. Sometimes change is difficult but it is necessary to survive.

Each time the thought of Kodak’s misfortune crosses my mind, I fear that this might be the future of the people in the educational sector. They find it difficult to change, well-adjusted with pen and paper they fail to understand that the educational sector is reshaping and they are still stuck at the basic. Satisfied with the old ways of life, the idea of online assessment discomforts them. They fear technical mishaps, cost, and academic dishonesty. But it is only when they try the new ways, will they be in a better position to list their fears, and once adopted we assure that the list will shorten.

  • The inadequate auto-grading

Riding on the horses of fame, coaching institutes have converted themselves into full-grown giants in the education sector. Accredited with integrated learning programs and well-versed teachers these training institutes have their share of miseries. Reaching out to the untapped talent beyond the geographical limitations, ensuring a wider reach of their assessments and simulators as well as a quick evaluation of the student’s performance is what they desire. Caught up in the spiral of inadequate auto-grading, which results in strenuous manual correction of answer sheets, they searched for cost and energy efficient solutions.

  • The confused career guidance

Schools the second home to children, is the building block of a child’s future. It is here where desires, aspirations, dreams of achieving something are shaped. Teachers play an integral part in guiding kids in what they think is the best for them, telling them the various career opportunities and what they shall pursue in future. What they lack is a definitive way to measure the ability and personality of the children, which tells them precisely about the behavioral and cognitive competencies.

  • The staff recruitment ruckus

How do we propose to evaluate our teaching and non-teaching staff? How do we just go by our instincts and grade them? Conducting interviews to choose teachers of different subjects as well as non-teaching staff is very cumbersome. Instead, a defined approach, with some set parameters will make recruitment easy.

  • Common to all 

Common to all, educational bodies are highly concerned about the logistics incurred due to written examinations. Indulgence of candidates in unethical activities is another major concern they are desperate to solve. What they want is to reduce the turnaround time which keeps adding to their cost. But the root cause always remained at the heart of the assessment process, presenting issue with security, transparency, cost in terms of infrastructure, people and operations.

The educational landscape in India has undergone quick development and what is right now the biggest in the world, enrolls 70 million students. Truth to be told, India has created extra space for 40 million more students. That is a lot of assessments and a considerable amount of cash blown.

Shifting online- Why is it a necessity?   

We’re being forced to live with a system that we’ve had for more than a century. That’s not necessary. It’s expensive and it’s subject to all sorts of variables, not a least human failure. That whole system is just out of step with technology and I think it’ll be consigned to history soon. 

 DAVID HANSON, Chief Executive of IAPS, on Traditional Assessments             

There are no second thoughts that a shift is needed to reduce the stressed, strained pen & paper assessments. A rise in online examinations is the one-time solution to all your problems.

Here is what we look at with a shift to online examinations-

benefits of online exams-02

  • Reduction in logistics- Online exams help to overcome the challenge of setting up physical test conducting locations. This not only helps to minimize the resources i.e. time, cost of setting up and the need for human proctors but also speeds up the entire process of examination. In universities, online exams accelerate the entire admission process where applications can be screened with minimal resources. The idea of conducting semester examinations and various assessments online just makes the entire process smooth and easy to handle.
  • Accessibility to remote areas-In an attempt to reach the untapped talent, online exams has broken the barriers of geography. With a global assessment solution training institutes, universities can conduct assessments worldwide with ease. The ability to conduct tests requiring nothing more than an internet connection means that examination can be conducted to target anyone, anywhere.
  • Scalable- Online exams have the ability to cater to a large audience and can easily manage a large amount of content. Taking this feature into account educational institution who suffer a paucity of time will find it very convenient to conduct examinations with least wastage of their bandwidth. Just a computer with an active connection and sometimes a webcam to take tests makes this possible.
  • Supports all types of content and creation- You might wonder that online exams can be a way out but what about the content they support, many of you might be under the impression that online exams only support multiple choice questions and this is the only format which can run well on the platform so just perform that and rest keep it to the pen and paper.

That’s where we need a correction. The question type favored by online exams range from MCQs, fill in the blanks, checkbox to short answers, long answers ( which need to be evaluated by the teacher separately), coding simulators and business case studies. The teachers can log in to the platform with an ID and then easily create a question paper without any paper wastage. Some companies like Mettl which provide such a platform where online assessments can be conducted also have a content library to choose from, it is like a question bank which is at the perusal of the clients, who can create their own assessments.

  • Combats cheating- Cheating has been the topmost concern of any person related to the educational industry. Whenever its exam time, the first question thought about is how can cheating be reduced? The solution is at your doorstep.

Remote proctoring ensures a controlled environment, where the candidates are under continuous surveillance which reduces the ability to cheat. This feature solves 2 purposes: eradicates malpractices and reduces the need for too many invigilators. The webcam keeps an eye on the candidates at all times, behavioral alerts notify the proctor of any unpleasant activity, web browsing tolerance prevents them from switching screens and a recorded video of the same is saved for future reference.

Moreover, these recorded video plays an integral part in revaluation. In case the student is not satisfied with the way the evaluation of the assessment is conducted, he/she can request a feedback from one of the in-house experts. The expert, in turn, takes the assistance of the remotely proctored video and gives a comprehensive feedback to the candidate with proper justification for the same and an evidence to show if required.

If this feature doesn’t satisfy you enough and there is still a hitch which makes it impossible for you to believe that online exams and remote proctoring can eradicate malpractices, then an additional web browser known as Exam Safe Browser is something that you need. Various companies like Mettl offer this feature, where once installed and activated for online exams, the test taker can only be able to see one screen i.e. the questions which need to be answered, shortcuts, copy paste, opening another window everything is prohibited. Universities, schools can use this feature to maintain a highly secure environment. 

  • Auto-graded reports- The automated report serves the purpose of eliminating manual correction and saves many man hours. A report is a comprehensive approach to the candidate’s performance which has a question wise and section wise summary of the attempt.

 The analytical report provides insights based on –

analytical report online exams-01

The time taken to check papers and analyze each and every question in pen and paper examination is very hectic and time-consuming, unintentional errors are bound to happen when the checkers get monotonous checking, neither are they proficient to precisely define the areas of strengthens and weakness for each student. Detailed reports are also useful/ for students who are looking for career guidance, with the report they get a clear idea of their competencies and eases decision making. This is how online analytical report forms the new face of evaluation.

Added to this are the benefits of reduced cost by saving the cost of infrastructure in terms of furniture, limited paper wastage, flexibility and a compatible system with an easy to use the platform.

Switching to online platforms can be a giant leap, but the holistic solution offered is very promising and effective. As they say, the first impression is a great lasting impression. An online exam gives the perfect picture of a progressive and pro-technology educational institution.

The advocates of Online exams V/s the devils of pen & paper 

Eventually, the paper-pencil test will become redundant as computer-based assessments are more transparent, hassle-free and scalable

Raghurama, Director at BITS Pilani 

The idea of online examinations has spread far and wide, so shall your belief in the system. But still, if you need some more brushing then here is a quick recapitulation-

DIFFERENCES ONLINE EXAMS-01

People are slowly understanding the need to shift. The success stories of renowned institutions such as Indian School of Business and Amity University who have already adopted the online system are nothing less than a testimony to the idea of online examinations.

To the Future

Online exams are unquestionably turning into a well- known medium of assessing aptitudes of the candidates. With progress in innovation, each one of us has positively experienced an online test, somewhere or the other. Online examinations give great flexibility to the test providers to the extent composing, booking, managing and evaluating the test is concerned.

 With quick test assessment and report generation, test results can be declared directly after the student has completed the test, even before he/she leaves the examination center.

2018 is a year of progress for tests to go the online way and to be in vogue how do you propose to change?

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