BPP University focuses on offering applicable, practical and professional knowledge to their students. They are confident that the pen-and-paper exams are a thing of the past.
BPP University is a private university with headquarters in London and Manchester, UK. The university is composed of four schools and has around 17 000 students in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Digital examinations are recognised as an important factor in BPP University's Strategy for Learning and Teaching 2017-2021, aiming to bring professional experience even closer to the classroom, as computers are the tools that the students will be using predominantly in their careers.
Ishan Kolhatkar, Director of Group Educational Technologies at BPP Professional Education, explains: “In the Law School, students take exams towards qualifying as a lawyer. Selling the idea to faculty that giving them exams in a format that far better, and accurately, replicates what they're going to be doing in real life, is simple. At no point is someone, who then becomes a lawyer, going to sit and handwrite a document for three hours.”
Due to these recognised merits of e-assessment, BPP University is working towards a 100% adoption of digital exams in Inspera Assessment (most of which will be Bring Your Own Device) in the next few years, and in the process pioneering this practice in the UK higher education.
How BPP University successfully implemented digital assessment
BPP University started its collaboration with Inspera in 2017, via a pilot, which involved nine exams with varying student cohort sizes, from 20 to 200, across BPP University Schools. The pilot was designed to test Inspera Assessment in a wide range of conditions, in order to evaluate the system’s capabilities in light of the university’s diverse requirements: home vs. on-site; computer lab vs. BYOD; auto-marked questions vs. manually e-marked questions.
Kolhatkar explains the motivation behind this design: “We wanted to get as many different variations as possible to see what the issues were, because that was the only way to really find out what needed to be done.”
In 2018, approximately 150 exams, with sittings on multiple days and locations, that were previously already digitally delivered by a different provider were transferred into Inspera Assessment. Inspera Assessment is now used for both formative and summative assessment, across Law School, Business & Technology School and School of Nursing.
In terms of delivery mode, it is used for on-site invigilated assessments as well as BYOD home assessments, that are automatically marked. In addition, SSO integration was implemented, in order to efficiently connect Inspera Assessment to the university’s other administrative workflows.
“There has been many informal discussions with students, all of which have been positive.''
Throughout the project, Kolhatkar has been the principal implementation manager, and has received support in these efforts from various teams across BPP University Group, including: IT, Digital Product, Exams, individual School’s faculty members and administrators. In order to ensure project’s steady progress , he has organised numerous user training sessions across the Schools, with support from Inspera. In addition, he has continuously communicated with all stakeholders to ensure that all user requirements are met, and that everyone has access to necessary information.
From left to right: Ishan Kolhatkar, Director of Group Educational Technologies (BPP Professional Education Group) Principal Lecturer in Law (BPP University); BPP University London City campus
A business-critical change management process
BPP University has been very ambitious in its goals on e-assessment, but also has also taken time to do rigorous planning and development of the implementation project, with gradual rollout milestones towards their 100% digitisation target.
“It's careful balancing act between going too slowly and going too quickly. It's about finding a pace that moves you along, appropriate for your institution. The perils of going too slowly are that you never make enough change to ever make this the widespread tool that is used. The perils of going too fast are that you you encounter difficulties by not considering everything that you should. The default for most people is to want you to slow down because change is somethingthey fear. You need to carefully consider the way you manage change, by getting all stakeholders on board, making sure that you train people properly and that they understand what they're doing and are comfortable using the tool," Kolhatkar explains.
Digital exams in higher education
Finally, we asked Kolhatkar to share his views on the future of e-assessment in the UK HE sector:
“My perspective is that we're going to see a fairly rapid adoption by universities, as they realise the virtue of using assessment software to assess their students. We’re going to see students clamoring for institutions to offer e-assessments. To institutions, if you’re thinking you are still a few years away from doing this, you really do need to start making plans now. The first step is doing a pilot and having open conversations with stakeholders across your organisation to show them the benefits of change for both students and them. If you want to do this at large scale in three years time, you need to be thinking now about how you’re going to make it happen.”
Want to know more?
Please visit our case studies to find out more about BPP University's motivation, implementation and reflections on e-assessment.