At the start of Trinity term 2018, the Department of Computing Science, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Theology and Religion will trial and evaluate a digital examination solution. The system will allow students who are sitting timed, invigilated essay-type examinations to type - rather than handwrite - their responses.
IT Services is planning the trials with colleagues in the three participating departments with additional support and expertise provided by colleagues in Education Policy Support, Examinations and Assessments, and the Medical Sciences Division.
The trials will investigate how the logistics of typed examinations may fit with Oxford University’s requirements across a range of areas such as user experience and preferences, technology (software and hardware), support and training, and policy issues. The outcome of the trials will result in recommendations for e-exams at Oxford.
There is no intention to change current workflows with regard to examination and marking processes. The project is working closely with Examinations and Assessments, and Education Policy Support to ensure that existing processes are adhered to. Participating departments will remain responsible for ensuring that the format and conduct of their e-exams adhere to existing regulations.
Participating departments/faculties are working closely with the project team in IT Services to plan all aspects of the trials. The selected digital solution will allow students who are sitting timed, invigilated essay-type examinations, to type – rather than handwrite – their responses. The system will contain components to enable the creation, delivery, typing, submission and (optionally) marking of examinations electronically.
The selected e-exams solution has been closely evaluated by experts in IT Services in terms of information security and stability. The software operates by means of a ‘lockdown browser’, which prevents the participating students from accessing any resources during the exam (with the exception of particular authorised ‘whitelisted’ websites, if required). Invigilators (or other support staff) will monitor activities during the exam and be able to identify any unauthorised activity. All the exams in the trials will be conducted on University premises – no ‘take home’ exams are included.
Depending on the recommendations made by the project, and if wider departmental interest is shown, further trials may be proposed to test the delivery of different examination types (e.g. multiple choice, take-home exams, and other objective-type questions), or trial other functionality (e.g. online marking and feedback processes). Such activities would be proposed as a new project to be guided by, and feed into ongoing discussions on the delivery of examinations at Oxford.
The trial will be carefully evaluated by the project team, by collecting data from all those involved. Staff and students will be interviewed to allow them to express their opinions and describe their experience of the e-exams system and processes. Proper research channels will be followed and permission sought to enable us to publish the findings of the evaluation activities.