Published: 04th May 2020
How will the methods of examinations change in a post-COVID world?
Maya Patankar is a Digital Assessment and Examination Pioneer and Veteran with a legacy of managing best of the National and International customers, here she predicts what the future of exams is
My colleagues and I have been working around the clock during this lockdown because the pandemic has struck at a time that is most crucial to us. It is between April-June that all the university semester exams and entrance exams take place and it doesn't seem like we can get a large space to conduct any exams at this point. This is going to delay the previous year's certification, application process and we have to find a way to support the students during these stressful times.
What's the plan?
So, we are working 24x7 to figure out what to do — it isn't just about conducting exams digitally. We have to ensure that the candidate is who they are, verify their identity, ensure they are not having an 'open book' exam, that there's no cheating while they are surfing the internet. We have to ensure error-free exams where the students have their integrity intact. And for that, we have a technology-based solution, for both during and after the COVID crisis.
We have been working with some universities during this time to figure out what to do. The universities are investing in ensuring that students have devices and the bandwidth to take their exams online. But who invigilates? We have that figured out too, we will have an invigilator sitting in their own house and keeping a watch over all the students attempting the exams. We have software that catches a student even if their eyelid moves in another direction. We also believe that we can hold entrance exams in a similar way, but 15-20 days later. Since the questions are mostly MCQs, it should be easy. But for some exams, there are description questions as well and also sometimes, they have to draw images.
So for example, if for a certain question, there are 4-5 steps, we figured, we would mention some of the steps and leave the rest blank so that the student can fill it in. This way, we know that they know all the steps. There is a whole lot of innovation happening during this time with regard to how we can frame these questions.
In 2004, there were only two institutes that had digital exams, one was BITS Pilani and the other was Manipal University and I've had the opportunity to work with one of them and from then till now, the adaptation to digital exams has been very slow. So, maybe the time has come for us to embrace technology. I see a radical shift happening in the next two years. I'm sure at least 80-90 per cent of exams will happen digitally in the next two years.
Exams in the future
The way we conduct exams in a hall in the future could change. We anyway ask students to maintain a distance to avoid malpractice. But we will take hygiene into consideration now. Before we would only check up on toilet facilities and drinking water provision but now, we will have to include thermal testing and hand sanitisers would be available everywhere. We might even have to require health certificates from the candidates. So, hygiene will be a top priority during and even after we are
past this COVID-19 phase
For the students
We are not an essential service but my colleagues and everyone in the examination industry basically have been working non-stop during this time. Conducting exams is a sort of social responsibility because many students' careers depend on it.
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(As told to Johanna Deeksha)