Exam IT nightmare!
You and your team have the responsibility for providing the right environment for students to take their exams. In certain cases it may have been necessary to provide lap tops for specific student needs. They may have had to be set up in a main hall, along side other students because of the constraints placed upon you related to room availability and being able to cover this situation with enough invigilation staff.
You have several students to deal with, all needing their work to be saved and then printed. The JCQ regulations and guidance on this type of provision is referenced appropriately. You also have your trusty memory stick ready to capture all, as you have discovered that using wireless connections to sent information is so poor or takes so long it’s not a viable way to print students work.
And trying to print everyone’s work on the basic printer which you have tried to use in the hall in the past was far too slow to serve everyone’s needs in the limited time provided after an exam has finished. Your invigilators are only paid for a limited amount of time and the students are desperate to get away. The pressure is on!
Students have been instructed before hand to save work at regular intervals on their computer. You place your trusty memory stick which has worked before into each drive to capture a student’s exam work. The save button is pushed and the students are dismissed and you return to your office to print off the students work. The file comes up corrupted. You cannot print the student’s work. You go back to their computer only to fine they did not save their work as instructed. The students have long since gone.
All the help and guidance in the JCQ booklet cannot rescue your student’s efforts. What’s your next step? Clearly, the priority is to the student concerned. How will you inform them and what will be the consequences of any actions taken? Clarifying their position with academic staff is vital before talking to the appropriate awarding organisation about what has just happened and what can be done, if any, for this student.
You have followed all the advice and applied all the right procedures but the technology has let you down. If anyone is under any illusion about how important the exams office role is and the impact it has on student outcomes it is so clearly demonstrated in this example.
One must ask the question – How many other such events like this, take place each year as technology begins to creep in across all aspects of the teaching and learning and into the exam delivery process. As one exam officer said – when this example was mentioned. “ I avoid all that by having scribes as I just do not have the technology available and even if I did its just another thing to go wrong when you are under pressure”.
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