28 September 2016

By 2017, at least 25% of all examinations at LiU will take place using digital tools. This is the result of a new policy decision. But tests with digital examinations have already been carried out.

They have been tested on the programme for business law. Ingrid Arnesdotter, who lectures in commercial law, explained this during the Pedagogical Days this spring. To put it simply, the students sit in a normal exam room, but they have access to computers. A special programme ensures that the computer is closed off to all communication except the exam tool itself. When the student has finished the exam he/she submits it with the help of the invigilator. Once it has been submitted it is not possible to access it again.
The instant it has been submitted the various teachers can also start to mark it, also digitally, wherever they may be in the world – which saves a lot of time, according to Ms Arnesdotter. She can see many other advantages.

Focus on the content

“You save time and administration, as a teacher you avoid having to decipher bad handwriting, so you can focus on the content and follow the student’s reasoning more easily as you get less but more legible text. This all makes the marking more reliable.”
“On the negative side we can see a certain anxiety about the technology.”
This is not the only experience of digital examinations at LiU. Other institutions have worked to develop other solutions.
“So there is experience, but so far no common concept,” says Peter Dalenius, who is part of the group who will work further in accordance with the policy decision. A decision that says that in 2017, 25% of all examinations at LiU will be conducted digitally, rising to 50% in 2018.

Essay type exams

“We are looking at essay type exams initially, that is, exams that are answered in the form of text,” Mr Dalenius continues. “Writing formulae is tricky at present but hopefully there will be a solution to this in a few years.”
As mentioned, there are already several different tools for digital exams. The work group is now looking at the administrative processes around the exam.
“There are many procedures we need to take a look at. The administration must be straightforward and the same for everyone, regardless of which examination tool is chosen. Things like the layout of the exam room, for example, with screens and plug sockets, training of invigilators and technical support have to be thought through in advance.”
Are there any risks with digital exams?
“The risk of dishonesty already exists, but in a different form,” Mr Dalenius states. “What we can work on is to make it as difficult as possible to cheat and simple to detect.”
During the spring the group will look at different solutions to be tested in the autumn and then scale up trials for autumn 2016.
“Saving time and money is not the primary reason for introducing digital examinations, but it is a welcome bonus. We are doing it because we have to. It’s coming, whether we want it to or not. Better to get started before the students start demanding it.”