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IIT Bhubaneswar Creates a Mechanism for Holding Comprehensive Examinations on-line

Commercially available online examination systems suffer from several limitations such as useful only for holding computer-based tests, not for holding the comprehensive conventional examinations, lack the robustness needed to run the examinations of a premier institute, reliability of invigilation and reliability of the connection. In view of this and to serve even in the pandemic situations, IIT Bhubaneswar created a method of holding detailed examinations online. This method can be used for holding all of types of examinations including the Class tests and End-Semester examination of an institute. This method uses the currently available systems like the Wheebox with enhancement as a part of it. The proposed system is moderately robust and can be used for holding tests of wide-ranging nature from computer-based tests to detailed conventional examinations. The system uses a virtual examination hall, actual invigilators (IIT's own teachers acting as proctors in the system), question paper distribution on-line, and submission/reception of soft copies of answer books which may be printed, if needed. The examination will be held using the client-server model of the software with the students sitting anywhere across the country (or the world) and the server placed anywhere. The system uses two or more network connections for reliability and additional facility for proctoring for reliable invigilation. Unlike in systems where a student has to come to an examination centre equipped with computers, in the proposed system, a student can take the examination from home or anywhere. However, for availing this advantage in return a student is required to be equipped with gadgets which is very much feasible.

The institute tested the system successfully by holding a mock test on 9th May 2020 involving about 240 students stationed across the country, question papers of 31 subjects and 20 invigilators. It was found that the tests can be held successfully and effectively as long a student has at least one of the two/three connections working at any time during the examination.

However, the institute felt that during the present lockdown periods due to the present pandemic, all students may not be equipped with an internet connection with adequate speed and they may not be in possession of their laptops. Hence the institute decided to conduct the end-semester examination of the Spring 2019-2020 semester in conventional form after the return of the students. A survey also revealed that a fraction of the students do not possess a laptop at home and do not have an internet connection with adequate speed. However, the institute can make use of the mechanism when needed with prior preparations.

Earlier, the institute switched to live streaming of classes from 18th March without any gap and completed the Spring 2019-2020 semester on-time as per the academic calendar with the enthusiastic participation of the students and faculty through the students did face some challenges in accessing the live lectures at times.