Following on from this introduction to alternatives for campus-based invigilated examinations, this post looks a little deeper regarding one of the suggested approaches. COVID-19 shows us that sometimes, an old solution might just do the trick!
If we did not already know it, this COVID-19 Teaching Session, has revealed to many of us that the online learning environment creates new demands when it comes to finding effective ways to enable student learning. Examinations are one of the areas that has gained much attention around the University, Australia and the world in recent weeks. Colleagues should refer to this recent post on this issue which offers much food for thought.
At the start of semester, 482 units were scheduled to deliver an exam in the formal examination period. On 8 April and after an examination of the issue and some sector benchmarking, the University Executive Group resolved the University, for reasons of time, cost and technology, could not deliver a centrally supported online invigilation examination system engaging a third party provider such as ProctorU or Examity.
Of the 482 units that had planned exams, there remain about 166 units still thinking about how they will deliver an exam or the alternative to an exam. Still others are nailing down their final approach. Mathew Hillier’s post offers some ways to think about alternatives to exams that are authentic and meet student needs. This post and others, however, will focus on ways colleagues can still deliver their own exam without central support.
Recently I read an article on the subject of using video/voice recording of the student to conduct an exam.
In 2020 Akimov and Malin from the Griffith University Business School produced a timely study titled “When old becomes new: a case study of oral examination as an online assessment tool” in the journal Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.
Some of us are old enough to remember a time when the ‘viva’ (or ‘viva voca’) was still a part of University teaching, especially in the research space (the so-called ‘oral defence’) and some disciplines have persisted with this technique in various ways to this day. Viva’s lost support as an assessment tool in the 1990s not because they were ineffective but because they were costly.
In an online environment Akimov and Malin have returned to this type of oral examination. They argue that new technology provides new opportunities for oral examination and provide a possibility that can meet the challenges of “accessibility and legality, identity and security and academic dishonesty”. Their case study is an online postgraduate finance unit that delivers an online oral examination.
Akimov and Malin found that the online examination achieved the following:
- Was a good means through which to test whether students had acquired in-depth knowledge of theoretical concepts
- Complemented other assessment activities in the unit
Students book in for a 30 minute block for the oral exam which is worth 40% of the final grade. The exam is broken up into three activities where the students have to provide a verbal response. One activity related to their earlier assessment project. The academic conducts the exam in real time and then completes a marking rubric at the end of the exam. Students have to present their drivers licence at the commencement of the activity to prove identity (a technique common with the big third party online proctoring platforms).
As noted, Akimov and Malin’s approach was conducted synchronously. The academics were online live with each candidate over the two days the exam was conducted.
I was left thinking could this activity be delivered synchronously but on a mass scale? At a prescribed date and time could students log into iLearn. The academic releases the questions. The students record their answers and upload the result to iLearn within a set time frame.
Talking to Jeremy Hind from the Learning and Innovation Hub, there are a few different ways students can record oral responses in iLearn. There is an audio recording function in iLearn quizzes and Jeremy and the team have recently made some changes in iLearn in anticipation of some of these requests. Current limitations are you can only record audio or video for three minutes per recording. And alas it doesn’t work on iOS devices like iPads and iPhones. This said, Jeremy and the team can provide alternatives for iOS though it is a little more complicated. This post on exams mentions that the phone could work in this environment.
The advantage of doing this through the quiz function is that you can conduct the marking through the normal iLearn workflow.
Our colleagues in Medicine, Health and Human Sciences have applied this functionality previously. See their very useful video on the subject: https://vimeo.com/334329857/6e8aaf0d0b
Speak to the LIH team or your Faculty Learning Designers if you want to explore this exam option.
Akimov, Alexandr, and Mirela Malin. “When old becomes new: a case study of oral examination as an online assessment tool.” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education (2020): 1-17.