64% educational institutions find online exams cost-effective

A study has revealed that the education sector has been keen to embrace technology and has been able to see the advantages of shifting to the virtual mode

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Given how the world has shifted online over the last year and a half, it does not come as a surprise that online exams have become quite common and acceptable. In fact, those who have been conducting online exams — the academia and the education sector in general — seem to be rather pleased with the system. About 64 per cent of those surveyed have found that online exams cost less when compared to conducting offline or centre-based exams.

According to the findings of ‘The State of Online Examinations 2021 Report, by Mercer | Mettl, an overwhelming three-fourths (76 per cent) of respondents — comprising deans, HODs, professors and other decision-makers, from over 150 educational institutions from across 18 countries — confirmed that online exam service providers fulfilled almost all their exam-related requirements, although some areas could do with certain improvements.

Of the 650 respondents, a good 64 per cent reported using online exam platforms to conduct semester exams for final year students, mainly to help them obtain their degrees and aid employment opportunities. About 53 per cent said it was their priority to focus on semester exams for non-final year students.

The survey studied the impact of COVID-19 on examinations and how the education sector embraced the digital ecosystem and ensured examination continuity in the past year or so.

About 56 per cent of those surveyed admitted to not having ever conducted online examinations before the pandemic. This proves that there was overdependence on traditional means, which made it rather challenging for academia to shift to the ‘online’ mode.

However, the positive thing here is that education sector has been able to swiftly accept digital assessment tools, and adopt and leverage technology for smooth examinations. Even those who were not exposed to digital means before the pandemic have exhibited high satisfaction post adoption of technology.

About 57 per cent, that is, 6 out of 10 respondents were majorly concerned about cheating in offering online examinations, admitting that more than anything else, their focus was to offer exams in a sanitised environment. This means, service providers are expected to enhance their platforms to ensure anti-cheating features in place. Most (7 out of 10 respondents) expect better mechanisms from online exam service providers to ensure that virtual examinations can be free of cheating altogether. A good 62 per cent expect to be able to stage multiple types of exams (MCQs, descriptive, diagram type, etc.). Universities and colleges are willing to use online platforms and work with service providers to improve their offerings.

A majority of respondents are happy to be able to design question papers for diverse subjects as and see this as a huge advantage of the virtual platform over offline exams. Over 46 per cent said this is what they preferred the most, while 42 per cent said exam evaluation and the grading process was the biggest benefit.

Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, Mercer | Mettl, expects “the report to encourage educational institutions to consider innovative approaches to examination in 2021 and beyond.”

With a mix of remote online exams and traditional centre-based and offline exams, the hybrid model of exams will be the way forward in 2021 and beyond, according to 63 per cent of educational institutions.

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