Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus which causes COVID-19, has disrupted the system of education and has taught us many revolutionary lessons. One of these lessons is to shift from offline to online examination. It is a solution to many troubles associated with pen-and-paper examinations and evaluations and a little investment on it is justified. Heads of institutions and lords of the government should establish infrastructure for online examinations on priority to help students. Schools and colleges can also be used for taking online classes for those who do not have electronic gadgets. One of our beloved daughters, G. Aishwarya Reddy, a student of Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi, and an aspirant of Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) under INSPIRE, ended her life as she could not afford to buy a simple smartphone. The Digital Divide has become a new menace in society. Organising frequent webinars is good but on the ground we should do something concrete.
The arrival of new technologies including AI and nanotechnology has steadily digitalised services, taking them to the online form, and it has been seen during the pandemic that various institutions across the globe have adapted Learning Management Systems. These new teaching and evaluation systems facilitate a balanced approach toward imparting knowledge and an easy grading in evaluation, saying goodbye to centuries-old stressful paper-based examinations. Computer testing is an alternative to pen and paper and can be conducted online through the use of the internet or a computer-aided facility with a powerful backup. It is a time-efficient and effective means of hosting large-scale online examinations concurrently/ simultaneously and enables educational institutions to evaluate candidates’ performance quickly, irrespective of their geographical location. The automated reports generated are a comprehensive guide to a candidate’s performance, with a question-wise and section-wise summary of the attempts, time-taken, and the difficulty level faced during examination. Thus, all educational institutions should establish infrastructure for sufficient computer systems with high-speed internet and powerful backup.
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the TCS examination Center as IR, for which they need to be congratulated for conducting the examination of NPTEL. Many students of J&K union territory are now taking NPTEL online examination and it is being steadily introduced in far-flung areas. The NPTEL, a project of MHRD initiated by seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), along with the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, was created in 2003 to provide online education. There are now many platforms created to enable online education in India and these are supported by the Ministry of Education (MoE), NCERT and department of technical education. The ubiquity of several computer-based examination systems must encourage institutions to shift to online examinations. These platforms support a host of knowledge and application-based questions, enabling examiners to prepare a questionnaire with multiple question types, which range from MCQs, fill-in-the-blanks, check boxes, to short answers and long answers (that need to be evaluated by the teacher separately). We only need teachers to make students think and thus teachers should act as mentors, not someone standing in a classroom and lecturing. Gone are days of rote learning and so this offline business should also go.
The writer is Associate Professor, Special Laboratory for Multifunctional Nanomaterials (LMN), National Institute of Technology Srinagar. [email protected]