Remote and reliable

Publication: The Hindu
July 9, 2021

Despite education moving online and schools and Higher Education Institutes conducting assessments and exams remotely, some people remain undecided about the reliability of the latter. As educational institutions prepare for the next academic year, online assessments will need to be on the schedule to ensure timelines are not derailed and students’ futures not jeopardised.

Sustainable innovation
The development of e-learning tools and new technologies has brought rapid changes in the way learners acquire knowledge and skills. Even before the pandemic, in 2019, the global online exam proctoring market was valued at $354.37 million and is estimated to reach $1,187.57 million by 2027. This goes to show that this change is a sustainable disruptive innovation that is here to stay.

A need for openness and accountability has emerged with the increasing popularity of e-learning. In India, our education system is exam-oriented; hence, it is important to have an assessment plan in place. Despite hesitancies, many institutions have adopted the secure and feasible option of AI-enabled exam management solutions to assess students.

Remote proctoring
The conventional method of physical invigilation has constraints in terms of its scalability and logistics. With the pandemic still raging, remote proctoring is a safer option, as invigilators can effectively monitor students through biometrics, audio, video, keyboard handwriting, ambient noise, and more. With these advanced AI-enabled tools, online exams can easily be conducted for multiple users across geographies without worrying about malpractice. It allows candidates to appear for an exam from any place as long as they have reliable Internet connectivity and a smart device with a working webcam.

Reliable assessments
While we find a way to successfully navigate the COVID-19 situation, we also need to analyse and establish new methods to impart knowledge, conduct exams securely, and assess and evaluate performance accurately. A speedy embracing of technology to transform education and assessments in the new normal will enable the system to become more authentic, appropriately automated, continuous, and secure. Online assessments allow the convenience of setting exam schedules, managing candidate validation and authentication, carrying out exams securely, and monitoring candidates online. Since everything is automated, evaluation is timely and error-free and there are no untoward instances like paper leaks, loss of answer scripts, or any malpractice during exams. Can an exam be more secure and reliable?

The infrastructure that is in place will play a key role in how quickly institutions shift in this direction. Remote assessments ensure data integrity by giving permission only to authorised personnel. In India, data infrastructure is crucial because institutions need to collect, store and assess thousands of students online, and ensure that data is processed in an appropriate manner.

While some institutions have got their data integration strategy well on the trajectory, it needs to be made mainstream. The second step is to advance towards learning analytics or use data to track how a student is progressing, assess behavioural change, and help them become successful individuals.

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