Five problems top five universities faced while shifting online and how they solved them
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.
But how did they recalibrate their approach?
Check out 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 adopting 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.
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.
1. The absence of a dynamic platform for hosting tests
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.
2. The inability to find a proctoring mechanism
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 considerable 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.
3. Global inaccessibility in the remotest of corners
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.
PIP UNPAD Indonesia
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.
4. Maintaining the integrity of exams
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.
Indian School of Business (ISB)
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.
5. A not-so-seamless experience
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 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?
One measure to overcome every barrier
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 is a solution that eliminated their problems:
A robust and user-friendly online platform
Mercer | Mettl has acquired a pole-position in the education industry ecosystem, enabling numerous clients across industries and verticals to conduct their examinations and assessments with the highest industry standards. A stellar combination of state-of-the-art Proctoring technologies and futuristic AI algorithm trained with more than 2.8 million proctored assessments can detect 18 dynamic digressions. They include non-visibility of face/ presence, mobile phone detection, an additional person’s presence, distracted eye movement, etc. It negates any possibility of malpractice during a high-stakes remote proctored exam.
Sophisticated features such as Mettl Secure Browser (MSB), 3-Point Candidate Authentication, and proprietary algorithm 'the Credibility Index,’ enable academicians to host their exams online with integrity, without concerns about cheating. While MSB minimizes browsing tolerance, candidate authentication eliminates any possibility of impersonation by validating the exam-taker.
Conversely, the Credibility Index provides the most relevant results to administrators. We also follow stringent protocols to safeguard both candidates' and clients' data.
Ensuring the safety of high-stakes exams is also possible via Mercer | Mettl SecureProctor. This state-of-the-art, cloud-based proctoring service is a much-needed layer of security that can be integrated with over 250 LTI compliant systems instantaneously. It includes the four most substantial LMSs, such as Canvas that account for over 91% of the market share. Live proctoring can also be initiated with ease, to create a highly secure and well-invigilated examination experience. The human invigilator can monitor exam-takers remotely, from start to finish, with one-to-one and one-to-many classroom views. An added feature of pausing /stopping /resuming the test in real-time with a live chat option enables the invigilator to interact with students to assuage any concerns or queries. The recorded session is available for viewing later.
Since Canvas is Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI)-compliant, it enables Mercer | Mettl to instantaneously integrate its proctoring services with the platform.
Prestigious academic partnerships validate the credibility and proficiency of Mercer | Mettl's services for their various certification and examination requirements. Institutes such as Cambridge Assessment, The Washington Center (TWC), Christ University-Bangalore, Disha, IIM Bangalore, SP Jain, to name a few, have already replaced traditional examinations with our online examination system to maintain continuity to their academic calendars and schedules. We have officially partnered with All India Management Association (AIMA), to remotely proctor its Management Aptitude Test (MAT) for the MBA entrance exams this year.
The state-of-the-art Online Examination Software System allowed educators to conduct online exams in a cost-effective, secure, scalable, and credible manner. Here is how:
- The end-to-end exam management platform encompassed test creation to real-time reporting, complete with a dedicated admin dashboard for detailed analytics and log and video recording.
- The platform offered a rich repository of 26 different formats for exam papers, considering distinct exam patterns and academia’s user requirements, including knowledge-and-application-based questions and even complex formula writing.
- With bandwidth as low as 512kbps, the platform supported multiple exam-takers and givers at various locations globally, customizable in 20 different languages.
- An easy-to-navigate interface ensured hands-on expertise for examiners, students, proctors and even the senior-most faculty. The exam stakeholders found the platform user-friendly, even without any prior technical knowledge. There was also no change in the students’ test-taking experience.
- A revolutionary feature addressed the students’ concern about managing their typing efficiency online. With the help of a QR code scanner, students could write the answers on paper, scan the answer sheets using a QR code and upload the images using their phones. The answer sheets were uploaded directly onto the examiner's system to eliminate any security leaks.
- An in-built AI proctoring mechanism offered cheating prediction abilities. Configured to flag various suspicious cases, the AI detected non-visibility of face, presence of a mobile phone, an additional person, or a distracted eye movement.
- The platform also offered a stellar combination of AI flags, human proctoring ability, and applicant authentication to ensure accurate cheating detection. This entire exam-giving session was recorded for viewing later using the proctoring software.
- The platform offered top-notch security features, upholding the sanctity of their prestigious exams. The faculty did not raise any concern about unfavorable instances or about the compromise of their exams’ integrity, which upheld the institutions’ credibility.
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.