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May 2017 Digital Exams Prep

Posted: Thursday 20th April 2017


After successfully conducting 4 digital exams for Sports Science students in January, we’re now hard at work preparing for another 20 exams to take place in May. The exams are currently being prepared for undergraduate and postgraduate Computer Science students, and require some significant logistical planning. If you saw the results of our participant questionnaire in the first post about our Digital Examinations Event, you'll know that IT infrastructure was perceived to be quite a big hurdle in adopting digital exams. To this end, the Digital Examinations Project team has allocated resources for emergency power at the venue, a small reserve of backup laptops in case of technical difficulty, and begun training several of our research candidates as Student Associate Learning Technologists (SALTs for short!) to provide additional support on the day. Here's a photo of one of the exams we ran earlier this year:

Sports Exam 1

 At the front of the hall you can see two big masts used to amplify the wifi signal in the venue; these did work well but a few connection losses were documented. This time around, we'll be using a few more of these and boosting the wifi to the point that it can accommodate over 600 individual connections - more than enough for our biggest exams of around 220 students.

To support the students at a grassroots level, we’ve created a Blackboard Learn organisation for them to access which includes tutorials, discussion forums, and a downloadable guide to read offline. Additionally we’ll be running drop-in preparation sessions for students to get advice and help setting up their laptops in person, as well as conducting short practice tests twice a day during the week before exams begin. As you can see, there's a lot for us to think about and implement to make sure the examination period runs as smoothly as possible - we'll let you know how it's going in the next update.