When was the last time you had to write an important article with a pen? What about a grant proposal? The reality is that our students have to use ‘pen-and-paper’ in high-stakes final exams, which may disadvantage those students who are used to typing.
What can be done about it? One potential solution is using computer-based exams (or e-exams).
A fascinating session demonstrating the use of e-Exams was hosted in September by the Learning Innovation Hub ‘Learning and Teaching Exchange’ (LTX). Using bootable USB drives, the project team have developed an examination platform that allows students to use their own devices for final exams. This project received funding from the OLT 2016-2018 to carry out further development and research. The project website is packed full of guides, videos and even the software to download.
Project Lead Matthew Hillier gave a great talk about the context of exams; with the pen-on-paper style high stakes testing no longer accurately reflecting the real world – yet no immediate solution exists to mitigate this. A blaring example of this is when students across disciplines all sit in an exam hall together doing the exact same type of pen-on-paper exam. Other examination and assessment issues such as ghost writing, staff development, student usability, fairness, infrastructure and much more have been considered in an impressive problem map – presenting a truly Wicked Problem.
The ideas that excited me most included:
- A bootable USB drive for e-Exams requiring no network connection exists right now, and students can use their own devices.
- Broaden the pedagogical landscape of the exam room.
- Give students access to the ‘tools of the trade of the 21st century’.
- Potential down the track for authentication with keyboard typing recognition.
- Capacity for creation of digital artefacts in e-Exams.
- Exams could become more a hybrid between exam and assignment: could get the best of both worlds.
- Pre-tertiary exams in Finland will no longer be pen-on-paper by 2020.
There will be a trial at Macquarie run by Matt Bower in 2017 using this software. Times are changing!