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Universities are benefitting through Digital Examination...!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Technology is found everywhere and unlike the views of the past it’s not only to destroy us all. Ironically, technology is being used every single day to help every other sector to grow and benefit through its usage, and the education sector is not different, writes Biju Zachariah, President India, LittleMore Innovation Labs  

Last decade has seen tremendous growth in number of students in India and therefore, there has been an exponential rise in number of universities and colleges. With a 103% rise in universities and colleges from 2008 to 2016, there has been an increase of 109%* in number of students during this time period.

Universities and institutions came up with modern campuses with state-of-art facilities but there was no change in methodology of conducting examinations. Therefore, it became more difficult to cater to this golden growth with conventional way of conducting examination on paper. The paper-based examination was accompanied by challenges like huge wastage of paper, storage, malpractices like paper leakage, cheating and impersonation, logistics, lengthy cycle time, errors in totalling and zero analytics or insights leading to resource leakage and a probable challenge to the quality of education. Institutions, looking for solutions to these problems, gradually started adopting solutions based on OMR Top-Sheet, Online Computer based and Digital Scanning and online marking-based methods. While OMR Top-Sheet and Online Computer based methods were MCQ only and used mainly for admissions process across universities, Digital Scanning and online-marking based solution could address the evaluation challenges of the descriptive questions.

Sooner than later, they figured out that this solution was also sub-optimal. The large-scale usage of paper and stationary and manual process errors crept in as volumes increased. Also, digital scanning method required huge capex for setting up high speed scanners. This online-offline model, therefore, could not bring evaluation time down and there were challenges still remaining.  

This is when LittleMore Innovation Labs, a Singapore based organization, came up with Paperless Examination Advantage (PEXA) cloud ecosystem and DigiTaal, a state-of-art hardware, custom-built for writing descriptive examination. This solution transformed each and every aspect of examination process, eliminated paper from entire process, reduced examination cycle-time, brought in security and safety across question paper authoring, exam execution, evaluation and result publishing.

LittleMore has conducted more than 1.5 million exams comprising 20 million pages for its clients who have benefitted tremendously on aspects like:

Safety & Security:  
The combination of PEXA and DigiTaal has successfully addressed safety and security concerns like encryption, data isolation, cyber-attacks, device malfunction and data loss. By using biometrics, LittleMore has been able to keep a check on student impersonation, thereby, eliminating the risk of unauthorized students taking an exam. The device enjoys a long battery life and saves data on a real-time basis. It is also capable of providing role-based user access and can be restricted to name IPs which means controller of examination will have more control on entire examination process. DigiTaal minimizes cheating with its special screen which limits viewing angle.

Transparency:  
The system, when we talk about conducting examination, should be transparent to all stakeholders. Keeping this in mind, PEXA ecosystem is capable of bringing in anonymity through masking which leads to anonymous evaluation. A script may be evaluated by multiple evaluators and the system would take care of tracking and totalling at the end of the process. The system also provides audit trails of students as well as the faculty which can be used in case of any disputes.

Logistics & Operations:
This, if not handled efficiently, may attract a lot of resource leakage. Thanks to PEXA ecosystem which is making logistics and operations more efficient by reducing examination process by up to 75%. Since there are no physical sheets involved, it helps to save resources and reduces logistical challenges. Evaluators can give feedback to students on the online portal itself and students can communicate back if they have any questions regarding marking. Students may view their answer sheets and apply for re-evaluation through the device itself.

Storage:  
Institutions need separate facilities for storing paper-based answer sheet. Fetching out an old answer sheet can be a very daunting task. PEXA has made it extremely simple. All the answer sheets are saved in digital form and can be fetched easily in case the need arise.

Analytics:  
PEXA’s in-built analytics can provide great insights to all the stakeholders and can actually improve the standard of education. The insights and reports are customizable as per the needs of university.

Eco-friendly:
PEXA and DigiTaal help eliminate paper from entire examination process and make the entire process eco-friendly; thereby helping institutions achieve their mission.

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