Online Examinations
June 2010

Online Examinations

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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 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 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 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.

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

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