An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report indicates a dire need to reskill more than one billion people by 2030, with almost one-third of all jobs globally likely to be transformed by technology over the next decade. This comes during an era of unprecedented changes where the education landscape has been significantly impacted and this, in turn, has pushed the government to propel the adoption of online learning in the country.
While acquiring new skills is crucial for improving relevance in the future job market, grading is the one element that will determine the quality and proficiency of the skills acquired and therefore assess the talent benchmarks for the future.
With online classrooms and the concept of digital evaluations and entrance examinations becoming mainstream, the focus is now on effective grading. Talking of India's MBA landscape, not just the final grading, but also the evaluation for enrolling in MBA programmes has undergone a shift. However, simultaneously the question arose: is online evaluation for graduation effective?
Ever since the pandemic struck, students looking to ace GMAT, one of the most widely accepted entrance exams for MBA aspirants, were left confused and uncertain about the location, requirements, and preparation needed. Adding to students’ and universities' woes were allegations of cheating during online evaluations. With the proliferation of distance education and the abundance of online degree and certification programmes, these issues have brought into question whether or not the grading is fair and effective, and ultimately whether the online MBA degree holds as much value and credibility as it did formerly.
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The role of examinations is to evaluate an individual student’s progress and exams should be standardised if they are to be fair to all. Along with validity and reliability, fairness is important to maintain as the future of the students depends on their results. The changing approach to examinations is seeing a more frequent and extensive use of open-book testing protocols, and continuous evaluations as against traditional closed-book testing procedures. This new approach to assessment is but a natural extension of the innovations in curricula, new approaches to teaching, and a shift to a learning-centered system.
With online entrance exams and evaluations here to stay, what can universities do to dispel doubts and plug the gaps in the process? The fact is that online exams are actually far better in controlling malpractice than offline. And, with technology, it is possible to make it a completely foolproof system. The answer lies in finding the right technology infrastructure to ensure that despite the change from physical to online, credibility and quality are not infringed upon. Edtech players who are well equipped with the technology offerings and expertise would be effective partners in this process.
One of the areas that edtech players specialise in is online proctored exams. Though a comparatively new phenomenon, they offer several benefits such as efficiency, flexibility, practicality, security, and customisation making cheating more difficult than in the physical examination room with an examiner. Another advantage is that plagiarism checks are more easily conducted online through tools and safeguards, which is impossible in offline examinations.
Leading edtech players offer multiple new-age exam monitoring systems that support a fair grading system. Let’s explore and find out what are the best options to conduct safe and secure online examinations.
1. Dual-Proctoring approach – This is the best approach that integrates a real human with technology to eliminate any chance of cheating. This approach uses a blend of both manual and automatic proctoring. Manual proctoring includes an invigilator who’s connected via webcam and is watching the learner throughout the exam duration, while automatic proctoring includes an AI-driven proctoring approach that restricts tab switches, flags face movements, etc. The moment any learner tries to switch tabs or tries moving eyes from the current screen, the device/tool alerts the examiner/invigilator.
2. Live online proctoring – This is similar to manual proctoring where an invigilator monitors the candidates through audio-video and screen share feeds in real-time. The person monitoring can be sitting in any remote location and is trained to ensure student authentication and to stop any form of cheating.
3. Recorded proctoring – In this approach, no invigilator is monitoring the feed in real-time. It is replaced by recorded audio-video and screen share feeds of the exam candidates during the exam, and they are reviewed at speed for alerts about any suspicious activity.
4. Advanced automated proctoring – Similar to recorded proctoring, this type of proctoring records the audio-video and screen share feeds during the exams. But additionally, the system also monitors the feeds for any suspicious activity using advanced video and audio analytics.
In conclusion, the shift to online education, entrance exams, and evaluation is a positive move with multiple benefits in today’s ever-evolving world. With the help of the right mix of technology infrastructure and technical know-how, universities and students can rest assured that MBA retains its credibility and remains a sought-after qualification for India’s workforce of tomorrow.
Furthermore, technology-enabled grading will ensure that the online grading process is more effective. The process will also ensure that it maps learners’ journey to highlight their strengths and weaknesses, thereby making the overall learning experience personalised for the one billion workforce of the future.
The author Arjun Mohan is CEO-India, upGrad. The views expressed are personal.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)