Time to Bid Farewell to Outdated Pen and Paper Exams?

Anja Sisarica
June 24, 2019

As students’ handwriting deteriorates, and students increasingly expect digital tools and support for the learning experience, universities have begun to explore digital examinations. On June 25th, University of Bath lead the way and brought together institutions at the Digital Examinations Forum 2019 to discuss strategies, challenges and benefits of going digital.

Battling with infrastructure, lack of official frameworks and national coordination, an increasing number of universities have ended up experimenting on their own with changing what has been done in the same way for centuries: examinations. The participants at the Digital Examinations Forum had a chance to learn from the experiences of the Scandinavian Higher Education frontrunners, who have been utilising digital examinations for years.

Students in a computer lab classroom   

Online at home - online at university

Higher education institutions must bridge the gap between digital use at home and on campus. By providing a fulfilling learning and assessment experience, it can be argued that universities achieve higher student engagement, and consequently, higher retention levels. That's something to bear in mind when looking at the upcoming Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) national survey of undergraduate teaching, and the important role the quality of assessment plays in its methodology, and in turn, universities’ rankings.

Digital exams provide a more authentic way to conduct assessments, they mirror the students’ everyday life and prepares them for a digital work life. No one uses pen and paper for three hours straight in the office anymore. Then why should students?

The work on digital assessment in the Nordics has been developed with student experience in focus.

Moving from digitisation to digitalisation

The use of technology allows teachers to personalise and differentiate learning and exam content for their students, thus opening the doors to actual pedagogical development. Therefore digital exams are much more than just putting existing tests online as is. In fact, digitalisation of assessments leads to improvements and transformation for every student and staff member involved in the exam process.

Learning technology enables us to create digital citizens, and an openness towards technology in education is simply essential today. Governments, innovators, educators and institutions need to be working together towards making learning more impactful by using technology. 

At the Digital Examinations Forum 2019 participants had the opportunity to get actively involved in the discourse on online examinations.

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