Online exams: Benefits, limitations

Md Zahidur Rabbi | Thursday, 7 January 2021

Following Covid-19 lockdown, online classes became the new normal. But, what about examinations? After many controversies and anticipations, some universities started online examinations. Primarily, students were skeptical about its feasibility; faculties too had various concerns over the success of online exams. However, after many trials and errors, the universities now have a smooth process of online examination.

Most of the universities use Zoom or Google classroom to monitor the students as they write on paper. After finishing the examination, the students write a code at the end of their scripts. Then they are allocated little time to scan and submit the scripts virtually. All scripts are to be sent to the university using courier service. However, some universities do not monitor the students. They give out a virtual form which needs to be answered online and submitted within allocated time. Some universities are also taking viva-voce. Others are simply taking open book examinations.

Nevertheless, parents believe that instead of wasting time staying at home in the pandemic, students need to continue their academic activities, hence, online exams are commendable. Also, many private universities are adopting a Learning Management System (LMS), Remote Proctoring and Plagiarism Checker to make online exams much more realistic.

Students face many difficulties while attending online examinations. The common problem is internet instability. Internet speed often becomes an issue and sometimes the students either get disconnected or fail to submit the answer script swithin the given time. When asked, Fahim, a third year student at University of Asia Pacific (UAP) said, "The main fear was what if we get disconnected at a sensitive time as the internet connection in Bangladesh is very unstable."

Device also becomes an issue as not all students have good ones. Tanvir Siam, a third year student at American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB) said, "Sometimes my mobile hangs and I get panicked." As re-entering the class takes some time, students often miss important parts of lecture while in class and lose their valuable time during online exams. The pandemic also made it hard for the students to concentrate while staying at home. Many students are facing trouble focusing on online classes let alone online examinations.

Despite all these struggles, one cannot deny the benefits of online examination. The main benefit is avoiding any session jam in education system. "It is a great initiative as we are not facing year loss and graduating in time," said Rahat Hannan, a final year student at BUP. While the public university students are uncertain about when they might get to finish their studies, many private universities have hopped ahead by taking online exams. Many universities are currently taking initiatives for online examinations being inspired by its successful implementation elsewhere.

Due to limitations, public universities are about to resume exams physically. Following a virtual meeting among vice chancellors (VC) of 39 public universities, The University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to allow public universities to hold semester exams amid the ongoing pandemic.

The writer is a student of Mass Communication and Journalism at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP). He can be reached at
[email protected]