The Future Of Online Exams: Trends and Innovations

When you think of schools and colleges, what comes to mind? Perhaps a typical image is a classroom filled with students frantically jotting down notes while a teacher lectures on a topic deemed “crucial for your upcoming midterms”.

Exams are an essential and fundamental component of education. They serve as significant benchmarks in a student’s academic journey; understandably, students experience stress and anxiety leading up to them.

Throughout an academic year, students may need to take up to 12 exams per semester, equating to a maximum of 24 exams a year!

Additionally, it may be a surprise that teachers are also under pressure regarding exams. Exams can be a logistical nightmare, requiring extensive planning from developing multiple sets of question papers to printing them and distributing them securely to exam centres, collecting them, and delivering them to teachers for grading and publishing the results.

Undoubtedly, the process of organising exams requires significant investments of time, money, and resources. As soon as one exam cycle concludes and the results are announced, preparations must begin for the next round of exams.

There is an urgent need to explore new methods for conducting exams since the planning, administration, and management of exams impose a significant burden on teachers, who could otherwise invest their time and energy in their classrooms and students.

To put things into perspective, the Indian education system is vast, with an estimated 350 million students, and over the past two decades, nearly 70 million students have enrolled in higher education. Consequently, state and central education boards face an arduous challenge in organising exams for millions of students. Regrettably, exams administered by different state boards and the CBSE have been vulnerable to paper leaks because of several factors.

In addition to the issue of paper leaks, numerous universities encounter difficulties with paper assessment and result publication. Marking thousands of papers can be time-consuming, and the need for qualified teachers exacerbates the problem, often leading to lengthy delays in releasing results. For instance, Mumbai University’s results were delayed by five months in 2017, creating panic and uncertainty among students and parents.

Likewise, college-level exams confront many issues, turning the process of conducting them into manageable tasks.

What can we do to simplify the process of administering exams?

In the present day, technology holds great influence and power over our daily lives. We wake up to phone alarms, use apps with advanced AI algorithms to order food, and book cabs for travel, all of which have made our lives more comfortable, efficient, and convenient. Therefore, it makes sense to use technology to address the challenges of administering exams and simplify the process. Online exams have become increasingly popular and offer numerous benefits. One of the most significant advantages is the many security measures in place to prevent malpractice and ensure exam integrity, something that is not guaranteed with traditional offline exams that are vulnerable to human error.

Administering traditional exams involves significant manual effort and coordination, which can be tedious and prone to human errors. This process has become increasingly challenging with the growth of educational institutions, schools, colleges, and students. Thankfully, technology offers solutions to address the challenges of traditional exams. Online exams provide a viable alternative to pen-and-paper-based exams. Online exam systems allow for exams to be conducted remotely across different locations, eliminating the need to print question papers for each examination centre. The question papers can be uploaded to the system and stored safely in a digitally encrypted format.

The online examination system streamlines the process of creating question papers. Experts in the relevant subject matter can create a question bank and categorize it by subject, topic, sub-topic, difficulty level, and marks. The system then generates multiple sets of question papers, and the exam moderator can choose one of them for the exam. Additionally, online exam systems expedite the process of evaluating answer sheets. For subjective exams, evaluators can use the system to access and grade answer sheets, while for objective questions, the results are immediate.

How is AI improving online exams?

AI and Machine Learning are highly valuable and advanced technologies that are becoming increasingly important. Artificial Intelligence has become an integral part of our daily lives, although we may not always recognise it. Many consumers use AI-powered devices without realising it, with only a third aware that they are using such devices.

Due to its diverse applications, AI is being utilised in several fields, ranging from healthcare to agriculture and finance. One such application is the use of AI in predicting if a person will develop breast cancer within five years of undergoing a mammogram. Because of the numerous benefits of AI and its various applications, it has also penetrated the education sector. AI is revolutionising the education sector from managing administrative tasks like attendance-taking and assignment grading for teachers to providing feedback to teachers through analysing students’ test performance. Additionally, AI is transforming the organisation and security of online exams, making them more efficient and secure.

Here are some trends and innovations which is being used to conduct online exams: 

Remote proctoring using facial and voice recognition technology

Remote proctoring enables students to take online exams from home instead of attending an examination centre. Online exams’ convenience is one of the main reasons students prefer them. In contrast, offline exams are considered vulnerable to cheating and other malpractices, which has made educational institutions hesitant to conduct them.

Remote proctoring is the solution that many educational institutions have turned to address their concerns. A proctor is a qualified individual responsible for supervising the exam process. A remote proctor can monitor the exam process from any location.

The use of facial recognition and voice recognition technologies has increased the security of remote proctoring in online exams.

The system verifies the candidate’s identity through facial recognition before allowing them to appear for the exam. The student’s audio and video feed is recorded and monitored during the exam by a remote proctor.

Advanced facial recognition technology has been developed through years of research by engineers and neuroscientists. To prevent students from cheating during exams, universities use automated proctoring systems that rely on facial recognition.

Researchers have been studying voice recognition for a long time to comprehend human speech. Auto-proctoring systems with audio capability can use sound to authenticate the identity of test-takers and compare it with background noise to prevent cheating. These systems can also create a visual representation of speech patterns to detect instances of cheating. 

Auto-proctoring systems can effectively supervise online exams without human involvement by utilising facial and voice recognition technologies.

Onscreen Marking System

The use of online assessment tools can make the process of evaluating exam answer sheets much easier. Manual evaluation of answer sheets is time-consuming and prone to errors. When multiple examiners evaluate thousands of answer sheets, processing the results and generating mark sheets becomes challenging.

Using technology, the process of evaluating physical answer sheets can be simplified with the Onscreen Marking System. After scanning, the sheets are uploaded to a digital system, enabling examiners to evaluate them from any place. This process creates a digital archive of all answer sheets, which acts as a backup.

AI-powered tools to assess answer sheets

Around a quarter of schools in China are utilising machine learning-based artificial intelligence (AI) to grade students’ answer sheets automatically and provide feedback if needed. Some online grading software can accurately evaluate handwritten exam sheets as precisely as teachers, identifying numbers, letters, and special characters. Additionally, AI-enabled tools have the ability to learn like humans, which allows teachers to correct the errors made by the system, and the system will not repeat the same mistake.

Automated tools for grading answer sheets are much quicker than human evaluators, taking up to 90% less time to complete the evaluation process. This enables the exam results to be released shortly after the examination. By using AI-based tools, universities can overcome the shortage of evaluators and save a significant amount of time and effort.

AI algorithms have the ability to quickly and accurately assess a vast number of exam answers, which reduces the time and effort required for grading exams. They are impartial and consistent in their evaluations, ensuring that every student receives fair assessment and reducing the risk of human errors or biases. Additionally, AI algorithms can provide detailed feedback to students on their performance, indicating their strengths and weaknesses and giving recommendations for improvement. Furthermore, they can create comprehensive data sets from exam answers, enabling educators to track student performance, identify patterns and trends, and make informed decisions about teaching and learning.

AI can give both teachers and students feedback

Artificial Intelligence can monitor students’ progress in examinations and quizzes and provide instructors with comprehensive analytics on individual student and batch performance. This data will allow teachers to identify difficult concepts or topics and develop new approaches to help students understand them. Consequently, AI can help teachers evaluate their teaching techniques and determine which approaches are most effective for their students. This not only simplifies the learning process for students but also reduces the teachers’ workload.

AI technology can also offer personalised feedback to students by adapting to their learning abilities and grasping power. The system can develop customised methods to help students understand concepts with maximum attention and retention.

In addition, AI algorithms can notify teachers if a student falls behind in specific subjects or topics, allowing educators to work with the student individually to ensure they comprehend the material and stay caught up with their peers.

What’s next?

In online exams, AI and ML are crucial for boosting security and preventing cheating. These technologies are utilised with facial and voice recognition systems to authenticate and monitor individuals. For instance, facial recognition systems use machine learning to verify the identities of students before an exam to prevent cheating and impersonation. In some cases, these systems can even be more reliable than humans in identifying individuals, making them a valuable tool for enhancing online exam security.

By leveraging AI and ML in online exams, institutions can have greater trust in the integrity of the exams. Voice recognition systems, for example, can also detect any signs of cheating during the exam, such as students receiving unauthorised help or using unapproved materials. This technology has led to improved efficiency for teachers and a more secure and streamlined exam-taking experience for students.

While AI’s role in online exams is still limited, we expect to see further advancements and applications in the future, potentially rendering human intervention in exams obsolete.

About the Author

Mark Edmonds, an expert in academic assignments and an employee at Academic Assignment, a provider of high-quality MBA assignment help, has authored an article titled “The Future of online exams: Trends and Innovations.” With his extensive knowledge in the field, Mark offers the best quality online exam help to students looking to improve their academic performance.