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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Coronavirus: Not just digital classes, India needs online exams, assessment and evaluation

While technology can solve certain problems including leaked and lost papers, erroneous evaluations and delays in declaring the results, there are several challenges including rigid mindsets, lack of infrastructure and proper training.

New Delhi | Updated: April 18, 2020 3:33:55 pm
online assessment, online exams, online classes india, checking paper online, coronavirus COVID-19 update, education news For online assessment, educational institutes need to get out of their comfort zones (Representational image)

— Written by Ambrish Sinha

The alarming spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a domino effect, setting off a global crisis. Not only is it a medical emergency, but also a catastrophe for industries and the global economy, bringing practically everything to a grinding halt. The outbreak has not spared the education sector either. While classes are being held online, there is a cloud of uncertainty around examinations, admissions for the following year, and placements for outgoing students. Apart from the increasing stress and anxiety that students are facing, the uncertainty could further impact admissions and campus recruitment opportunities.

According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report, more than 100 countries have closed their educational institutions, affecting half the student population globally. While challenges are aplenty, the crisis presents a great opportunity to explore online learning through education technology platforms. Though institutes are conducting classes online, they now have to look into a lesser-explored arena: online examinations, evaluations and assessments.

Read| Why are all online tests going MCQ-based and how does it fail holistic assessment?

In India, there have been numerous instances of leaked and lost papers, erroneous evaluations, and delays in declaring the results. With the interpolation of technology, institutions will not only be able to set exam schedules flawlessly, but also administer candidate validation, conduct tests, and invigilate candidates using remote proctoring technologies. In fact, onscreen evaluation of answer scripts curtails costs, labour and time, making people more productive. Even the odds of losing the answer scripts are eliminated as they are stored in a secure cloud platform guaranteeing security, accessibility, and transparency in the evaluation system. The system also alerts an evaluator if a segment of the answer script has missed being reviewed, thus guaranteeing accuracy in evaluation.

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But, the country’s progression towards realising the fullest potential of digitalisation in the education sector has often been crippled by a few roadblocks. The most prominent challenge is that of perception. Our system has been comfortable with the traditional model of learning and evaluation, and are resistant to change.

Another major challenge is that of infrastructure. Many schools and colleges do not have the infrastructure required to conduct online classes. It is imperative that investments are made to ensure a standard infrastructure is provided to institutions across the country. Finally, it is crucial that teachers and students are trained in using digital tools and platforms available to them to help them thrive in this constantly evolving world.

— The author is CEO, MeritTrac

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