Transitioning to Online Examinations
By Khushank Raj Mahawan
As the lockdown continues to extend and with no certainty of the future, universities and educational institutions are trying to figure out how they can regulate online exams. With current technical infrastructure and lack of explored opportunities, it doesn’t look feasible to conduct them online. Even students are not completely on-board with the idea of online examinations. Issues like poor internet connectivity, problems with drawing diagrams, low typing speed and scope for cheating are some of the major hurdles in the road. Luckily, latest technologies are capable to deal with these problems and are only waiting to be adopted. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can make it happen. I will try to explain a systematic roadmap universities can follow to ensure a smooth transition to online examinations.
The idea is to first allow the use of drawing pads to enable handwritten answers. The diagrams and shapes can be easily drawn. Right clicks and tab or window switching can also easily be disabled, like for competitive examinations students already are familiar with.
Now, for validating ethical practices, we can use Artificial Intelligence. Using video recognition and image recognition techniques we can identify practices like using a phone or looking away from the screen for a long period of time. An entire database of these possible good practice postures a person can use in order to write an exam can be made. In case there is a mismatch, an alert is triggered and after say, 3 alerts there can be an intervention and/or deduction of marks, so as to leave a margin of error for students getting the hang of writing papers online.
For internet connectivity problems, we can validate on-client side and when the alerts are triggered and deduction comes, validation from the server side can start working. It basically records the entire period of students giving exams in low quality and can be available for live watching as well. After the exam, a student with alerts or deductions can report the issue online. If s/he is flagged for bad practice for a particular question, another chance can be provided to the candidate in the presence of an online invigilator and if s/he fails to answer it again at that instance, the invigilator has a right to complete the deduction.
Adopting new technology and thinking out of the box solutions will help us not only survive this period, but will lay down the foundation for future course of actions. his pandemic is unprecedented for a lot of reasons, there’s no reason why our solutions caused by it can’t be.