Starting in 2018, the Radboud University (RU) will take a further step in the direction of digitalized education: in February, the RU will start a pilot in which students will no longer be allowed to use pen and paper during their exams, but will be using laptops instead. The aim of this pilot is for teachers to gain experience with this new way of examination, which is going to be definitively launched later in 2018.
Original text: Danique Janssen
Translation: Evelien Müller
The RU has purchased 578 Chromebooks and has invested in software, Cirrus Assessment, that will allow tests to be taken digitally. The laptops are stored in carts at the Gymnasion, in which they are charged. The carts allow for easy transportation to the location of an exam. ‘The battery life of the laptops is 12 hours, so students do not need to worry about their laptops dying during an exam’, Jos in den Bosch says, who is the program manager of IT and Education. Even if this were to happen, this would be no reason to panic. ‘The software constantly monitors what the student is working on, and directly saves all progress. If something bad were to happen, the students can return to their work on a spare laptop immediately.’
According to In den Bosch, the initiative offers several advantages. The digitalisation allows for new methods of testing. Furthermore, video and audio fragments can now be used. The RU, furthermore, wants to meet the modern student halfway. ‘Students follow seven weeks of classes in which they take notes on their laptops, but they still have to do their exams using pen and paper. They have grown up in a world full of digital tools. A written exam simply does not match their perspective on the world’, In den Bosch explains. Teachers will also enjoy the advantages, because the marking of exams will become quicker and more efficient. ‘I heard some teachers say that they spend more time trying to decipher handwritings than actually checking the answers. That problem will be solved with this initiative.’
The RU has been working hard on digitalization and improvements in this field for some time now. Earlier this year, all student files were digitalized. Moreover, it was announced that the RU will switch from Blackboard to a new program called Brightspace sometime in 2018. Furthermore, ‘testing grounds’ for IT and Education have been introduced. These are spaces in which the RU gives people with innovative ideas the opportunity to test them. By switching to laptop exams, the university is making huge advances in the digital era.