Evolution of Conduct of examinations from pen and paper to digital system

Giving an exam is an art but conducting an exam is a journey. The journey of conduct of exam is very long, continuous, and has seen many reforms, with moments of happiness, fear, tensions, and great satisfaction. It began way back when the college exam section received question paper hardcopy from the Savitribai Phule Pune University in a sealed envelope with the details of the paper, subject, pattern, year, and date, well a week before the conduct of the exam of that particular subject. The papers had to be kept in a sealed cupboard and room, which was a great responsibility.


The main concern was to get the envelope from Savitribai Phule Pune University in time that was very efficiently received always. About half an hour prior to start of the paper, the photocopies (or cyclostyling) of the question paper had to be done according to the number of students and the exam would begin. We did face few challenges but they were handled efficiently with immediate communication and follow up with Savitribai Phule Pune University. This traditional method of offline exam continued till we began with the next generation of conduct of exam by receiving online question paper instead of offline with the advancement of technology.


Regarding the new system we were very excited and anxious and no doubt we received proper training and SOP from Savitribai Phule Pune University. We had got a permanent portal and login details for the same. Now there was no waiting for the question paper to arrive from Savitribai Phule Pune University. The process would begin few days prior to the exam wherein a trial would be done for opening the portal, login and downloading the mock paper. This really helped us and increased our confidence. Another reform was the use of barcodes on answer sheets and receipt of the barcodes now instead of the hard copy question paper from the Savitribai Phule Pune University, that we used to get in sealed envelopes, according to the class, semester and pattern.


The task included crosschecking the same for subject, sections and number of students date wise and time table. On the day of exam, the we would eagerly wait to get the OTP on the registered mobile number. The anxiety would begin from proper network and electricity connections itself up to downloading the correct question paper (pattern and subject) received online after the login and entering the password up to its photocopying and distribution. All sorts of tensions, phone calls and panic situations would arise if we couldn’t get everything in time. But the cooperation from the Savitribai Phule Pune University just on a phone call used to sort out the issues. We would also immediately get SMS on the registered mobile numbers regarding any delay in question paper uploading, or communication for any changes in questions in the question paper or any such types of problems. An important challenge was to download the correct paper since we had various course patterns, a greater number of subjects, regular and backlog papers, UG and PG etc.


Later as time proceeded, we got well versed with the systems, and all the process were perfectly set and lead to the smooth conduct of examinations offline with online question paper till we all came into a state of pandemic situation that raised up the new concept of online exam (MCQs Based) using online exam software. The covid challenge! No hard copy question paper, no OTP, no password, no downloading, no photocopying, and no paper distribution. Oh, what a relaxation to exam section of college! is it? Frankly speaking, a big NO. Now everything changed. Both students and college needed to learn the systems, have trials and do the actual process to get used to it.


Totally unaware and everything new. Right from setting the MCQ based question paper by the examiner to getting different login details for students, from conducting mock test to actual conduct of exam, everything new and exhilarating. Now the phone calls from students to college exam section to the Savitribai Phule Pune University bombarding issues and problems which were quite new and different like unable to login, incorrect details, camera not working, student not verified, internet and electricity issues and lastly leading to either problem being solved or putting the grievance that would be considered later. This has been possible only due to the uncountable efforts, sturdy support, valuable guidance, proper channels of coordination, and day and night struggle, mainly in the very critical situations of a pandemic by our Savitribai Phule Pune University. Savitribai Phule Pune University conducted timely meetings, sent the circulars, communicated with everyone for issues, grievances and suggestions, and immediately resolving all sorts of concerns by phone calls, emails, and even Whatsapp messages.


Now we have again accepted the new challenge and sailing through it very smoothly, equipped with the best of facilities provided by Savitribai Phule Pune University going hand in hand with each other so that at the end, our students are benefitted. This platform has enabled our students to appear for exam easily from anywhere. The huge path we are traveling, the transformations, adaptations, and use of technology, is full of excitements, thrills, worries, patience, new ideas, and ultimate satisfaction. Teamwork, coordination, proper communication, immediate actions, support to each other, accepting and implementing suggestions make our job easy.


It helps us to achieve our goals smoothly. The wonderful experience we have, working with Savitribai Phule Pune University at all phases, has always given us a breath of satisfaction. Our exam conduct pattern has evolved from offline question paper to online question paper with offline exam to online exam MCQs. We can continue with the combination of different patterns we have come across and the implementation of new ideas.


The new practices that we can start are conducting the offline exam on the part of the syllabus that can include long and short answer-based questions including problem-based questions, partly by open book test that can be based on a passage given like comprehension based or by referring a book and remaining by online MCQ based. This pattern can evaluate the students on overall learning and writing skills in different aspects.


It will give scope for students to study and think differently and make exams interesting, exploring the student’s talent on different platforms and helping them score rather than have fear and panic for examinations. Thus, the future can be a blend of traditions and modernization.


Author


Dr. Ashwini Madgulkar.

Principal, AISSMS college of Pharmacy


I headed as Director, Central Assessment Program during December 2017, May 2016, December 2015, April 2015, April 2014, October 2014. I have been associated with Savitribai Phule Pune University as a faculty Member, Board of Studies in Pharmaceutics, University of Pune. My experience till date around 30 Years including Research (as M Pharm and PhD guide) and Industry.


I am an approved PG guide by Savitribai Phule Pune University.

55+ M.Pharm students and 05 Ph.D. students registered along with two Indian Patent applications filed, 06 books authored, 100+ research publications in peer reviewed national and international journal and 23 presentations and receipt of huge grants under various schemes by Savitribai Phule Pune University and AICTE.


Awards

  • APTI(Maharashtra) PHRSI Principal of the year (Degree) for the year 2014 award

  • Rajnibhai V. Patel PharmInnova Award for Best MPharm Thesis Guide in Pharmaceutical Sciences,2016

  • Indian Rheumatologist Association’s award for best research paper,2016,

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