Say Goodbye to Pen-Paper Examination
Shah M A
Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus which causes COVID-19 has disrupted the system of education and has taught us many revolutionary lessons of future life (Post Pandemic Life-PPL). Of them, there is an urgent need to shift from offline to online examination to mitigate/ lower the mental stress and strains associated with pen-and-paper exams. It is a onetime solution to many troubles associated with examinations and evaluations and a little investment over it is justified. Heads of the institutions and Lords of the Government organizations should act and establish infrastructure for on-line examinations on priority to help the students/ society which fall within the periphery of their universities/colleges. In J & K, I am confident, an NIT alumnus, Talat Parvaz, Commissioner Secretary Higher Education and B K Singh (IFS), Commissioner Secretary Education will take a lead. These places can also be used for taking online classes for those who do not have electronic gadgets. One of our beloved daughter G. Aishwarya Reddy, a student of Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi and an aspirant of Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) under (INSPIRE), ended her life, as she could not afford to buy a simple Smart Phone. It has become a new menace- Digital Divide Menace, like many others. Organizing frequent webinars is exceptionally good but on ground we should do something concrete in this bold technological world for our dear students and it is not desirable to hear humorous stories of our teachers while receiving stationeries/ accessories from Examination Board offices for conducting Board Exams.
The arrival of new technologies including the AI and nanotechnology has steadily digitalized services, taking them to the online form and it is seen during pandemic that various institutions across globe have adapted Learning Management Systems. This teaching and evaluation system facilitates a balanced approach toward imparting knowledge and an easy grading of the candidates, saying goodbye to century old stressful paper based examinations. Computer testing is an alternative to pen and paper and can be conducted online through the use of the internet or a computer-aided facility with a good power backup. It is a time-efficient and effective means of hosting large-scale online examinations concurrently/ simultaneously. It enables educational institutions to evaluate candidates’ performance quickly irrespective of their geographical location/coordinates. The ubiquitousness of several computer-based examination systems must encourage institutions to shift to online examinations. These platforms support a host of knowledge and application-based questions, enabling examiners to prepare a questionnaire with multiple question types, which range from MCQs, fill in the blanks, check boxes to short answers and long answers (nonetheless that need to be evaluated by the teacher separately). The automated reports generated is a comprehensive approach to a candidate’s performance, with a question-wise and section-wise summary of the attempt, time-taken and the difficulty level faced during examination. Thus, all educational institutions should establish infrastructure for sufficient computer systems with 3-tier high speed internet and powerful backup.
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit TCS examination Center as IR, for which they need to be congratulated, for conducting in-person examination of NPTEL, which I started in J&K in year 2013 from my office at NIT Srinagar for one student from GMC Jammu during Prof Guptas’ & Dr. Zarabis’ golden tenure, whom I have always seen on one page. Many students of union territory are now taking NPTEL online examination and is being steadily introduced in far flung areas, indeed guided/ supported by Bharthi and Kamala. The NPTEL, a project of MHRD initiated by seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), along with the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, was created in 2003 to provide online education-a visionary approach. There are now many platforms created to enable online education in India and these are supported by the Ministry of Education (MoE), NCERT and technical education. I am confident that the established evaluation techniques are now nearing saturation and hopefully would soon become obsolete as a detailed study was carried by Dr Shraim in Technical University- Palestine. We only need teachers to make students think and should act as mentors, not someone standing in a classroom and lecturing. Gone are days of rote learning and with this offline business should also go.
(The author is on faculty at NIT Srinagar)