Our university has conducted BYOD digital exams in typed and multiple choice formats for the last four academic years, scaling from a single pilot exam of 115 students in 2015/6 to an anticipated 60 exams with over 2000 students in 2018/9. In doing so we have realised the benefits for:
• Students in affording them the opportunity to neatly edit their answers and produce a submission in the same way that they would for coursework.
• Administrators and invigilators, who are no longer handling, distributing and manually counting large volumes of paper, and have the ability to automatically transfer the final grades back to our student database.
• Academics, who can utilise automated marking and analytics (for MCQs) as well as receiving consistently legible typed exam scripts.
While there is increasing interest in digital examinations, in the 2018 HeLF survey only 13% of respondents were focusing on the BYOD format, citing concerns about technical and security issues (HeLF, 2018). Additionally, 44% of respondents implementing some form of digital exam cited room capacity as their biggest barrier to expansion.
BYOD digital exams are often mired in superstition around security, the candidates’ technical ability and even the noisiness of their equipment. This talk aims to demystify some of the more common concerns and criticisms of conducting exams in a BYOD digital format, as well as sharing our practice in light of the real challenges that we have had to face and navigate. In the main these fall into three main areas:
1. Infrastructure – providing a large exam venue with stable WiFi and power
2. Technical support – before and during the exam
3. Training – students, staff and invigilators
Our existing data indicates that 80% of our students currently bring their laptops to digital examinations and the JISC Digital Tracker survey in 2018 showed that 94% of UK HEI students own a laptop (Jisc, 2018). Rates of digital literacy are increasing, and handwriting skills are in decline, so it makes sense to leverage their level of ownership and familiarity of their own devices in the exam environment. However, with a large student body from disadvantaged backgrounds we have introduced an exam laptop loan service to ensure all students have a suitable device.
This session will be useful for participants who are considering BYOD exams at their institution and want to understand the benefits of doing so, and some of the issues that are likely to be encountered.
Cox, C (2017). Digital Assessment @Brunel Development Blog. Digital Assessment @Brunel. Available at: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/about/education-innovation/Digital-Assessment-Blog
Newland, B (2018). Electronic Management of Assessment – Digital Exams in UK HE 2018, A HeLF Survey Report. Heads of eLearning Forum. Available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Ie1jfjfyLqFW4lmNGYbbqlukvavrAcnU/view
Newman, T, Beetham, H and Knight, S (2018). Digital experience insights survey 2018: findings from students in UK further and higher education. Jisc. Available at: http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/6967/1/Digital_experience_insights_survey_2018.pdf