An online examination is the conducting of an examination or test online in order to measure student’s academic performance. Traditionally, these evaluations were conducted orally or through written tests using pen and paper. Students gathered in an examination hall or room where a question paper was handed to students and students had to write answers within the allotted time period. These questions were not seen previously in order to ensure a fair evaluation of all students. Students then turn in their answer sheets and after a period of time, evaluators share student scores.
With an online examination, all these traditional elements continue to persist, however, the mode of test-taking has changed – instead of a physical examination hall, students instead log into an online examination system through which they access the question paper and share their answers. Evaluation and the publication of results also happen within this system.
What are the advantages of an online examination system?
The advantages of implementing an online examination system at your educational institution are plenty. Below we discuss some key, easily accessed advantages of switching to an online examination system at your school:
- Environmentally Friendly
Straight out of the gate, an online examination system cuts down the negative impact traditional pen and paper exams have on the environment. The sheer amount of reduction in the use of paper is immense and wastage of paper is also curbed. In a world where students will be graduating into an environmental crisis being caused by climate change, this kind of eco-friendly and forward-thinking approach to everyday processes is important. Students will imbibe these values over the course of their education.
- Technologically Forward
Another key advantage to using the online examination system is that it integrates well into a technologically rich world. The use of pen and paper in professional situations is reducing. Most work is done using email, text messages, computers for presentations, computer-based design, etc. Making students familiar with a variety of interfaces using this system is preparing them for the real world. It is likely their familiarity with such an interface and process will be especially helpful for events such as training and testing even in the future after they have graduated.
- Reduces Labor Cost
The sheer amount of resources that can be used to set up a single examination is mind-boggling — from teachers setting the examination to administrators ensuring that enough copies of the exam paper have been made for all students. Using an online examination system eliminates many of these processes and the associated labor costs, which directly and positively impacts the bottom line of the educational institution implementing the system.
- Saves on Time Investment
Creating, administering and evaluating a test are time-intensive tasks for everyone involved from the student to the teachers. Using an online examination system allows some amount of reduction in the time investment required of the examination process as a whole. This is because features like addition and import of questions, easy access to the exam for students, and batch-wise evaluations allow students and teachers to save valuable time that would ordinarily be wasted on non-primary tasks and instead direct those energies towards actually setting and assessing scholarly progress for students.
- Reduces Overheads
The overhead costs of securing an examination hall, printing out multiple question papers, providing students answer sheets and supplementary materials can really add up. Switching to an online examination system, however, directly reduces or eliminates many of these overhead costs. Such a switch positively impacts the bottomline of the educational institution in question, freeing up much-needed resources for the school or college that can then be directed towards core responsibilities.
- Increased Security and Privacy
A final advantage of the online examination system is that it allows for increased student privacy and an improvement in how secure the entire process is for all stakeholders involved. For instance, there can be no meddling or untoward activities within the system since there is no opportunity for malicious elements to game the system and produce erroneous responses or results, engage in cheating or any other unethical practices.
Students also receive results confidentially maintaining their dignity amongst peers and encouraging positive growth instead of unhealthy and pointless competition with peers. This kind of security and privacy may seem excessive, but it really creates a healthier and more positive mindset towards the entire examination process for both students and teachers alike. Fostering this kind of attitude is to benefit of the educational institution on the whole.
What are the disadvantages of an online examination system?
- Open Book Exams
Due to the nature of the format of an online examination system, exams administered through this platform to some degree become open book exams. Unlike traditional examination settings that did not allow external materials into the physical space the exam was being conducted, nothing stops students from referring to their course materials during an online exam. Since there is also no direct supervision during the exam time period, the entire system is reliant on an honor system to prevent cheating or other malpractice.
However, teachers can counter this effect by setting questions that do not rely on the student’s ability to look up information in a textbook or Google for data. Instead, questions should aim to test the student’s understanding of the subject matter. In some ways, these are predictors of the student’s actual absorption of the material being taught and thus a better representation of their scholarly progress.
- Onboarding onto New Technology
The implementation of an online examination system necessitates a period of familiarisation on part of all users. Any change in structure will require some investment in onboarding on behalf of the educational institution in question.
The best approach to take here would be to design training for both students and teachers during the transition from traditional examinations to using the online examination system. These training would familiarise students and teachers on the various features of the system making it more likely they will actually use it instead of sticking to the status quo in terms of how exams are administered at their school.
- Infrastructural Barriers
While the online examination system offers great scope to increase inclusion and accessibility for students across the world, its positive impact can still be mitigated by infrastructural conditions of the location in question. Such barriers are out of the control of the system itself, however, it is undeniable that it is affected by it.
In many parts of the world things like steady internet connectivity, the existence of an electrical connection, and other infrastructural considerations might interfere with how an online examination system will work. It is thus important to keep the audience taking the exam in mind when implementing the use of this system at your school.
- Not suited for Collaborative Evaluations or Group Projects
The very nature of examinations in the online examination system prevents certain modes of evaluation being implemented at the school. The most obvious one here is that it is not an ideal platform for collaborative evaluations or group projects. This is because the nature of the platform is objective, preventing subjective evaluations where points are handed out to a group for subjective efforts, rather than points awarded on an existing framework.
Examinations are an inevitable part of the educational ecosystem. With evolving technologies, a globalized world, and an increasingly competitive educational landscape, it is necessary to keep up with the times. Along with ever-evolving teaching and learning methods, processes like examinations must also be examined. An online examination system is the product of such an analysis – it automates, digitizes and flattens the process to become more accessible, inclusive and accurate compared to its previous avatar. At the same time, it does not eliminate best practices in student evaluation and examination that have been built over the years. Instead, the online examination system is a culmination of the old and familiar and the new and innovative.
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