I declare this classroom open!
Now that we are more or less through COVID, classrooms are open once again and are a flourish of activity. But, with the vast disruption over the past 3 years and the confusion of assessing formal examinations of all kinds, we ask: should exams now be conducted online or offline?
For over 2 years students have been removed from traditional, structured classrooms, where they learn but also interact with each other. To be suddenly removed from this structure and to be self-disciplined when it comes to examinations and course work, it has fundamentally changed how our students think, act, and behave.
Educational systems were rapidly forced to implement an online system of assessment, and it was flawed in many areas - including the ability to stringently monitor students so that they do not use online resources that allow searching for the exact answers to exam questions.
It has become a complicated problem for universities, whilst students, on the other hand, have identified shortcuts and an opportunity for higher grades or passes – even if not achieved legitimately.
Overall, students have rebelled against the return to the classroom and back into the offline world. Most online exams have been shorter than the average in-classroom examinations and hence students have been able to retain attention better.
StudentCrowd has been tracking how each university has been responding in these rapidly changing times. Most universities are now choosing to adopt a blend of online and offline learning and assessments, which means we must get better at delivering and monitoring online examinations to reduce cheating and ensure a fair and equal educational system for all.
"Students have shown a preference for most examinations being online. However…. there is a clear need to set fair and robust exams that will protect honest students from being scored comparatively lower than those who cheat" Times Higher Education
Another discovery off the back of this major shift to online exams and learning is that online examinations may be better for student mental health!
It is no secret that a young person's mental health is a growing concern, as more students have needed mental health support over the past two years than compared to pre-pandemic.
A complicated relationship has been identified between student mental well-being and academic performance. It has been discovered that prolonged situational stress can be debilitating to student mental health and traditional offline, time-restricted exam situations are reported to negatively impact on student well-being and on performance, too.
"Some students are hyper-aware of potential plagiarism, which, in allowing others to gain an unfair advantage, may devalue their own performance" Times Higher Education
So, is the problem that we just have not had enough time to embed into this online way of learning and assessing? Perhaps given time universities will be able to tighten up and implement a secure structure to ensure that online learning is fair, reliable, and beneficial to students' mental health.
In conclusion, it can be reasonable to suggest that online exams with effective monitoring known as proctoring allow for offline-like control while preserving all the remote benefits, so it seems like a win-win solution. If you are looking at ways to reduce cheating in online exams, consider proctoring solutions such as ProctorEdu.
 The Tribune
 The Storypedia
 Times Higher Education
 International Journal of Adolescence and Youth