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Online Examination Platform, Proctoring
Great Lakes has proactively pioneered several innovations, such as embracing the internet-and-mobile-technology-enabled blended and online learning, making high-quality management education available to learners across the gamut. The management also incorporated a learning management system (LMS) to administer in-class online program exams, assessing that the pen-and-paper assessment process may need a technical overhaul in the future.
However, it had no inkling that the COVID-19 pandemic would expedite the need for the transition much sooner than anticipated. With the spread of the contagion, the lockdowns pressurized the administration to discontinue in-class teaching and campus activities. Academia made significant efforts in a short timeframe to continue with its courses online. However, the situation turned for the worse for some students.
Four hundred final-year students were slated to take their exams, get their results and join workplaces or seek employment in the job market. But the lockdown occurred a week before the completion of the academic year, putting breaks on their aspirations.
The situation necessitated quick intervention, and the management was nimble in chalking out a strategy to ensure that the institution delivered on its graduation-related timelines. Interestingly, given its familiarity with online exams, it did not consider the format difficult or impossible to implement. Hence it could mitigate the challenges emanating from the pandemic and safeguard students’ careers. However, academia pointed out that while it had used an LMS to administer online exams, the students had taken the assessments in physical classrooms (center-based exams) with human-led proctoring.
If Great Lakes shifted exams to the remote online format, could it still preserve its transparency, integrity and fairness?
How Great Lakes safeguarded its students and untied its academia’s Gordian knot amid a pressing deadline is a fascinating story. However, before highlighting its details, mentioned below are the requirements academia cataloged to enable continuity in giving and taking exams online:
Great Lakes was hosting students from across India’s towns and cities and globally for its programs. Considering erratic and insufficient internet infrastructure worldwide, the institution sought partnership with a steady, consistent and seamless platform and proctoring provider. A system that could ensure equitable internet reach beyond borders, allowing for fair access and a glitch-free connection between faculty and students.
Great Lakes required an unparalleled system to conduct hassle-free examinations online. Thus, it sought a specific set of tools and features to aid in reliable exam paper creation, management and verifiable analytics generated for insights. It also mandated a cheating prevention system with AI elements as the management needed to make high-stakes decisions about students’ futures based on their exams and results. Therefore, it mandated preventing academic dishonesty and negating any issue concerning usability, accessibility or location constraints.
Great Lakes students had taken their exams online, intermittently, via an LMS. But it did not have the provision for linking it to a basic invigilation software. Exams were going remote, which worried educators about possible malpractice attempts. Hence, Great Lakes mandated a dynamic proctoring system that allowed real-time monitoring, constant interaction and utmost visibility. It also needed in-house proctoring training for its faculty to maintain the examination drive's security and confidentiality, ensuring proper identification and safeguarding the test-takers' experience.
Great Lakes was shifting a broad spectrum of exams online. These tests were in different formats, including multiple-choice questions, open-ended questions, equations and calculations. However, while some exam-takers were comfortable taking their exams online, many still preferred the traditional pen-and-paper medium, given their lack of confidence and exposure to the online means of assessment. Therefore, academia scouted for a solution that offered all students a fair and seamless writing experience.
Great Lakes was fixated on protecting the exams’ integrity and test-takers' data. Hence, its requirement also included a highly secure system that ensured the best data privacy protection and security practices. Besides, it mandated secure encryption, regular security updates and an audit trail of access controls, given commonplace cyberattacks and misuse of information.
Great Lakes understood that it needed a permanent solution to ensure that young graduating students did not bear the brunt of the COVID-19-induced disruption. Thus, the management evaluated multiple platform-and-proctoring systems for its exams, but every solution seemed inadequate for its purpose. Amid looming uncertainty, Mercer | Mettl’s team responded to the institution’s needs.
Initially, Mercer | Mettl’s team spent considerable time understanding Great Lakes internal structures (users and their roles), assessment formats, type of questions, amongst other things. It patiently identified challenges and preferences to anticipate Great Lakes’ needs.
After a thorough evaluation, Mercer | Mettl’s team offered a detailed execution plan with a few product-level customizations, catering to Great Lakes requirements. That aside, the team also demonstrated remarkable agility in making provision for numerous online demo tests. These tests helped students gain familiarity with and confidence in the online system. The exercise also helped solidify Mercer | Mettl’s assertions on the integrity of its assessments the reliability of its software.
The checks and balances built into the Mercer | Mettl system and the team’s unflinching pursuit to negate academia’s problems emboldened Great Lakes, Chennai to shift its critical examinations online.
Mercer | Mettl advocated its most viable value proposition- Mercer | Mettl EXAMIN. It is a futuristic, reliable and scalable technology, in tune with the undergoing shifts in the education landscape. Mercer | Mettl EXAMIN an innovative and impeccable solution for administering and validating exams online. Besides, it was also the key to preserving academic continuity for Great Lakes by averting current and potential crises.
Mercer | Mettl’s focus on stringent cybersecurity protocols addressed Great Lakes concern about data breaches, unauthorized access and privacy at every stage of the examination process. Hence, it implemented the following procedures to ensure absolute fairness and security during each exam session:
Great Lakes, Chennai did not have to defer the examination process until the COVID-19-mandated lockdowns were lifted. It found online exams an excellent alternative to the traditional paper-and-paper exams without losing any functionality or academic rigor. With help from Mercer | Mettl’s team, the faculty could choose to continue in the new ‘normal’ by reshaping its education and examination strategies. The students did not lose out on their academic year and could seek suitable employment opportunities after graduation.
Great Lakes, Chennai comprehended that disruptions were inevitable, but a pause in academic continuity could negatively impact students’ future. Hence, academia plans to embrace the online examination approach for all forms of assessments for the foreseeable future to negate existing threats and those that may emerge from unforeseen circumstances.
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