Eighty-three per cent of educational institutions have either shifted to or are planning to shift exams online, according to a report titled The State of Online Examinations 2020. The sector’s swift embrace of online platforms to conduct exams reflects its desire and resilience to maintain educational continuity amid the lack of clarity on the return to normalcy. The recently launched report by Mercer | Mettl, a leading global online examination and proctoring company, deep-dives into the impact of COVID-19 disruption on universities and their challenges in shifting all stakeholders to online exam platforms.
The report surveyed over 500 leaders, consisting of deans, directors, CIOs, IT heads, HoDs and controllers of examinations (COE) from reputed colleges and universities in India and abroad. Most educational institutions are used to traditional centre-based exams and are late entrants to the online education technology space. About 77% of respondents have never conducted online entrance examinations, as per the report.
COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown caught most of the educational institutions off-guard and unprepared to tackle the pandemic-led disruption. Almost all (90%) respondents have agreed to disruption in their present examination schedules. Despite the disruption, 85% of respondents said they would go ahead with their exams. Nearly half of the participants (48.81%) have already incorporated online solutions at their institutes and over two-thirds (67%) are seeking online solutions for the timely conduct of exams.
“The report further consolidates the trends we have been observing in the Indian education landscape lately due to the coronavirus-induced restrictions. The concerns about student’s safety in large gatherings as well as securing their future are fast-forwarding the shift to online exams. It’s surely going to define the education paradigm as we have never known before,” said Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, Mercer | Mettl on the launch of the report.
There are various challenges though that the educational institutions want to solve before they shift to online exams. These concerns are related to avoiding technical glitches, seamless user experience for all stakeholders involved, and allowing a large number of students to appear for exams at the same time from different locations. Their biggest concern remains to maintain the sanctity of high-stakes exams in online mode in as good a manner as centre-based exams, if not better, with 70% participants saying cheating prevention is the most pressing concern for them.
The report further sheds light on the features educational institutions consider most critical when selecting online examination technology providers. These 3 core features in varying degrees of priorities for semester and entrance exams are- robust anti-cheating technology, the ability to handle a large number of students appearing for an exam simultaneously and accessibility and connectivity for all stakeholders irrespective of location and internet bandwidth.
Educational institutions acknowledge that while the education sector was a late adopter of online education technology, the current disruption is going to accelerate the shift to online exams. Almost 6 out of 10 (58%) participants feel the COVID-19 impact will expedite the shift to online exams that is likely to sustain, the report said.