That Familiar Feeling: E-exams on Students’ Computers (BYOD)

Jens Andreas Pettersen
February 27, 2019

Fairness and reliability are fundamental values in order to promote secure assessments for education and certification. Nevertheless, most schools and universities cannot afford or do not find it strategic having dedicated exam centers with hundreds of computers. At Inspera we believe that, after taking several steps to ensure academic honesty and avoid cheating, the practice of students using their personal devices can make a big change for the better.

In this article we will focus on what the concept Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is about, which are the principal benefits and drawbacks of using this exam delivery strategy, and we will try to answer some of the most common questions on how it is applied in education. If you want to learn how BYOD is secured by Inspera Assessment, read on!

How to do online testing with BYOD infrastructure?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), also known as Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) or Bring Your Own Personal Computer (BYOPC), refers to the practice of students using their personal devices for educational purposes, in the educational institution or at home, after configuring it with the required settings in a couple of quick steps. At Inspera our experience tells us that, if designed and used well, a BYOD platform can meet high standards of test security and significantly reduce cheating.

Read the case study to find out how the University of Gothenburg implemented digital exams with BYOD

How can we guarantee safety in BYOD tests?

A secure online testing with BYOD implies some technical measures to reduce cheating. One of these measures available is a lock-down browser. What is a lock-down browser? It is essentially a custom browser that locks down the full-screen testing environment from the beginning of the assessment to when the learners submit their assignment. That means that, during the time of the examination, students are prevented from accessing any kind of instant message, email, the Internet, or other applications or files, unless it is configured otherwise from the educational institution. These browsers allow institutions to deliver safe and reliable exams with BYOD assessments.

Inspera Assessment supports the lock-down browser Safe Exam Browser (SEB) available for Windows, macOS and iOS.

Inspera Safe Exam Browser

What are the main benefits of BYOD?

In regards to some of the advantages of using BYOD in education, nowadays most of the students already have a device that they can bring to the institution for the exam day. In this way, they will be able to carry out the exam on a laptop or a similar device which they are familiar with, meaning that they will feel more comfortable and confident of themselves. As a result, they will likely have a better performance.

All this makes it much easier for schools and universities to have access to updated technology at a lower cost. What happens if the student doesn’t have a laptop or an appropriate device? In this case, the institution could use their improved budget to contribute by subsidising or lending the technology needed to those who don’t have access to them or happen to experience some technical issues during the exams.

Many of the educational institution that use Inspera Assessment or another online examination platform opt to use the Bring Your Own Device infrastructure, especially in countries and within age groups in which the ownership of a laptop or a tablet is very common.

The use of technology in the classroom makes the learning process more exciting and engaging for the learners. At the same time, the acquisition of digital skills contributes to prepare students for the future, which is the core purpose of education.

Student using a Safe Exam Browser

The implementation of digital tools also makes it possible for the students to have all their notes and assignments in one place and keep learning outside school hours. This may also lead to students having a greater sense of responsibility and autonomy, being in charge of bringing their devices to the institution, keeping them up-to-date and ready to to be used.

Another key advantage of bringing your own technology to the classroom is the contribution to environmental sustainability by significantly decreasing the use of pens and papers. Most educational publishers are already adapting their content to the digital ecosystem, and the easy access and lower prices to digital content is democratising education.

Many of the educational institution using Inspera Assessment adopt a BYOD strategy.

What are the most frequent concerns about BYOD?

Understandably, there are some aspects that may raise concerns about the use of personal devices in education.One of these main source of issues are especially related to security: mobile devices carrying malware may end up in a data breach. Nevertheless, it is possible to eliminate the risk of having malware in the network by creating BYOD policies that allow the exam management team to to take action when any suspicious event is identified.

Another frequent concern is cheating. It might seem like BYOD increases the difficulties to detect cheating and plagiarism in comparison to in an offline environment. Nevertheless, Inspera Assessment can effectively solve these problems by means of the lock-down browser Safe Exam Browser (SEB) and our tool’s capacity to detect plagiarism.

Inspera Assessment prevents cheating by locking down access to resources on the computer and online resources during the examination

The technical capabilities between different technology devices may also result in inequality situations and status “fights” among learners. Therefore, schools and universities should design specific programmes to assist students within lower income backgrounds.

Nevertheless, at Inspera we strongly trust in the power of BYOD to conduct fair and secure online testing. In order to avoid any limitations, we believe that BYOD policies must be implemented based on the institution’s requirement.

Can you think of any other benefit from BYOD? Do you have any additional concern or drawback about bringing your own technology? Let us know your experience!

Learn more?

Do you want to learn more about how we secure BYOD exams with Inspera SEB? Learn more about the technology behind Inspera SEB, how it helps secure exams, and how it secures Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) exams in our blog post on Inspera SEB.

Download The University of Gothenburg BYOD Case Study

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