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Option 1: Specialist e-exam software

Benefits:

  • Auto-saves regularly
  • Simple interface
  • Locks down access to files, Internet, printing,  spell-checking, other programmes (e.g. calculator)
  • Encrypts the files so they cannot be accessed after the exam, but can still be recovered and submitted (if there was a problem with submission)
  • Any problems with network access can be resolved by collecting the exam script by USB

Potential issues:

  • Cost
  • Requires installation
  • Requires setting up the collection centre
  • For cloud based solutions, data might be stored outside of the EU and may therefore contravene the data protection act.

Option 2: Standard Word Processing software

  • Microsoft Word
  • Notepad

Benefits:

  • No additional cost
  • Doesn’t require installations
  • Simple interface (if Notepad), familiar interface

Potential issues:

  • Doesn’t auto save, so may lose work
  • Need a way for students to submit files electronically (e.g. Moodle assignment, USB stick)
  • Examination files need to be manually deleted afterwards
  • Students can access Internet, files, spell-checker (in Word), other programmes  (e.g. calculator)
  • Students can potentially print their work to take it out of the exam

 

General recommendations:

  • Run a trial beforehand to familiarise students with the exam format and identify any potential issues:
    • Sound from the typing of other students
    • Problems structuring a typed, time-bound exam when used to hand-writing
  • Explicitly outline what is and isn’t allowed – e.g. calculator, Google search (some open-book exams may want to allow this)
  • Where possible use standard paper-based assessment methods to minimise potential issues
    • time the exam manually announcing how long is left and writing on a board
    • provide typed questions  on paper
    • allow students to hand write notes/working out (if allowed in traditional hand-written exams)
  • Ensure students are spaced in the room, so they can’t see each other’s screens
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