This article outlines best practices and suggestions for delivering fully remote exams using the eClass quiz activity. Our team also provides a number of additional supports on campus to assist instructors as well as specific guidelines for the different exam delivery scenarios available.
Instructors are encouraged to contact email@example.com with any questions when deciding on a delivery format and to take advantage of our exam checking service to review the details, setup, and configuration of their exam in advance. In addition to the guidelines below, instructors are encouraged to register their exams to allow the eClass team to review exam configurations in advance, and complete usage and system performance testing if applicable.
Register Your Online Exam(s) HERE
Pedagogical Support for Remote Exams:
The remote delivery of exams has its own challenges with regards to academic integrity or from a student-user experience. Instructors can book a consultation with the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) regarding the restructuring of assessments while adhering to learning outcome objectives.
CTL has also created the following videos regarding the topic:
1) Discussing alternatives to closed-book final exams
2) Guide to creating Open Book Exams (OBEs)
Physical Locations for Online Exams:
With the mix of online and in-person delivery methods now available, one challenge facing students with mixed schedules is finding a location where they can write online midterms. In some cases, students face challenges with travel time between home and campus for online or in-person classes, meaning that they will require an appropriate place on campus to write their exams.
Instructors can ease student struggles by booking a classroom for a specific day and time and day for an online exam. Doing so will ensure that their entire class has access to a space for exam taking. Rooms can be booked using the RO’s Classroom Booking page.
Additionally, Instructors can inform students about the temporary drop-in workspaces available for students to attend online classes (or take exams): Temporary Workspace Locations.
Guidelines for Constructing Quizzes
- One question per page where possible
Switching between pages in a quiz forces data to be saved to eClass every time a student navigates between pages, minimizing data loss in the event a student's internet connection drops. Whenever possible, construct quizzes so that there is only one question per page. If several questions refer to the same material (for example a diagram, case study, or written problem), these can be constructed as a single page but these should be limited to 3 or 4 questions with a repeated copy of the information provided on a second page for further questions. If long-form answers (essay questions) are required for the same material, these should be split into single pages with the preparatory material repeated on each page.
- Avoid sequential navigation
Under a quiz 'Layout' settings, it is possible to set Navigation to Sequential. This should be avoided as it only allows the students a single viewing of a question and they can never navigate back to it. The default (and by far the most commonly used) Navigation selection is Free which allows students to flag questions and return to them if necessary just as they would in a paper exam. Changing this setting to sequential may cause student confusion as they are used to the ability to navigate.
- Use security features
There is a wide range of available security features including honesty checks, question and answer order randomization, password protection, and more.
- Preview all quiz questions
There are many different questions types available to be used in quizzes with a varying degree of complexity. Instructors should always preview questions after creating them. If using the CLOZE question type, instructors should take extra care to ensure questions are correct before release as edits made to existing questions can break in-progress student attempts.
- Flexible timings
Ensure that the quiz time limit and open/close dates and times provide a buffer to account for technical challenges. Specifying a longer exam time window provides students flexibility for their specific start time, spreads outperformance and support load, and generally reduces anxiety. For example, if a quiz time limit is 120 minutes and scheduled for 2PM - 4PM, open the quiz at 1:30PM and close it at 4:30PM. Longer windows, for example providing students with 3 days to complete their exam are also recommended.
- Communicate early with students
Instructors should communicate the exam details such as format and timing, how and when students will access the exam link, and any other special requirements students need to be aware of as soon as they can to head off any potential issues. For example, if the link to a quiz will appear in eClass only at the assigned start time, students may panic if they do not know that in advance. It is also imperative to set the expectations for student behaviour during exams and to outline the consequences for not meeting the requirements. Instructors are encouraged to emphasize to their students that the correct, complete monitoring record of an exam is considered a required component of successful exam submission and it is the student's onus to provide this. Instructors should also ensure that students review the available tools and tips for taking quizzes on eClass and provide a reminder that students should always access online exams using the campus UWS wifi network (as opposed to using the Guest@UofA free wireless connection.)
It is also recommended to provide detailed test taking suggestions in the decription fields of quizzes or SEM sessions. A possible example to copy and paste would be:
Prior to writing this exam ensure the following:
- Your operating system and apps are up to date.
- You have recently rebooted your device.
- You have minimized the number of open apps and browser tabs to prevent resource drain.
- You have a full healthy battery or are connected to a power source. --- Note: Many devices have a "lower power mode" that will intermittently cut WiFi or stop scanning for WiFi connection to save power.
- If using wifi on campus, ensure you are connected to UWS and not to Guest@UofA network.
If your device dies during the exam you will NOT be permitted to switch to the paper copy. You will have to either accept your mark as is or have the weight transferred to the final.
- Run a practice quiz
Running a practice quiz with students accessing from wherever they will complete their final exam is essential. Whether students are already familiar with taking quizzes on eClass or not, attempting a quiz from the actual exam-taking locations where bandwidth or firewall issues may occur can prevent these from occurring during the actual exam. Whenever possible, running a practice with 'for marks' quizzes (eg. existing formative assessments in your course) will ensure a higher rate of student participation.
- Prepare for problems
- Establish a communication process for the different kinds of issues that may arise during an exam - eg. for subject matter questions, contact the TAs; for internet outages phone your internet provider (or switch to cellular internet service); for technical issues with your computer contact the IST helpdesk (780-492-8000); for eClass issues contact eClass support (780-492-9372). These tips are also suggested for students here. Please note, eClass support is open Monday to Friday, 8:00AM-9:00PM so if exams are scheduled outside this time range prepare an alternative mechanism for support.
- Some available communication options include phone, email, Google Meet, a 'live' shared google doc, or eClass messaging. Instructors may also want to create an online meeting, for example a Zoom session with the waiting room enabled for 1-to-1 interactions that students can log into during an exam to pose questions.
- Be familiar with using quiz/assignment overrides to give students having issues a time extension if warranted.
- Plan a backup solution - for example offering an alternative variation of the exam to be emailed to a student, completed, and returned or shifting students to a deferred exam.
Employing Remote Monitoring
As mentioned above, remotely delivered exams pose a range of challenges to be overcome. Some of the technical/practical challenges can be addressed by communicating early with students, clearly outlining expectations, and running practice exams to identify issues before exams. From an academic honesty perspective there four main challenges:
- Ensuring the exam taker is the correctly enrolled student (identity validation).
- Monitoring the student and the physical space where they complete the exam to ensure no disallowed materials are used (physical integrity validation).
- Monitoring the students' online activities to ensure they are not accessing any disallowed electronic resources (online integrity validation).
- Making sure that exams and questions aren't copied by exam takers (question security)
The available options for exam delivery are listed below in order of increasing ability to meet these challenges but also in increasing order of potential for technical challenges. No academic honesty measures are going to be 100% effective. It is up to instructors to decide which challenges to address are most important to them and which of the options below they feel comfortable with having their students use. There is also the cost of the service to consider.
Option 1: No remote monitoring - Alternative assessment or open-book eClass exam staged over a flexible time block
- Method: CTL has provided suggestions for this type of assessment and they are available for consultations on how to convert existing assessments.
- Support: Assessments of this type create the fewest barriers to student access and have the fewest technological limitations and are - often carried out in eClass which is fully supported.
- Cost: Charges may apply depending on the delivery method chosen by the instructor, but use of eClass is free.
- Monitoring: This style of exam does not provide any of the four types of monitoring noted above. Instructors should be aware that exam questions may be copied.
Option 2: Smart Exam Monitor (SEM) - A Chrome-only web application that records student webcam video, audio, and screen activity
- Method: Instructors use eClass or another exam delivery method and use SEM to monitor the exam session. SEM features an option to deliver eClass quizzes in a forced-full screen mode. Any students navigating away from the exam-taking window are automatically flagged. For more information, please view this webinar demonstrating this SEM closed book set up for eClass quizzes (using the interface prior to June 2023.)
- Support: eClass exams and SEM are supported by the eClass team; instructors can engage the team and sign up to have their exam validated. Other exam delivery methods are up to the instructor to support; SEM may be able to be used in these scenarios.
- Cost: Charges may apply depending on the delivery method chosen by the instructor, but eClass and SEM are free.
- Monitoring: Provides identity validation, monitoring/recording of the student’s physical environment, and lightweight monitoring/recording of the student's onscreen activity. Does not provide question security or full monitoring of the student’s computer activity.
Option 3: eClass exam combined with ExamLock - Custom exam security application run on student devices
- Method: Instructors use eClass and ExamLock to deliver their exam.
- Support: eClass and ExamLock are both supported by the eClass team.
- Cost: eClass and ExamLock are free to use.
- Monitoring: Provides some identity validation through CCID access; reports on the student’s online and computer activities; provides some question security, although students could take pictures on their phones. The physical environment is not monitored.
Option 4: eClass exam using both ExamLock and combined with Smart Exam Monitor - Combine both eClass-supported tools
- Method: Instructors use eClass and ExamLock to deliver their exam and combine it with Smart Exam Monitor to monitor the session.
- Support: eClass, Examlock, and SEM are all supported by the eClass team. This article describes this scenario in detail and instructors can also view this webinar demonstrating how to set up SEM and ExamLock together.
- Cost: eClass, ExamLock, and SEM are free
- Monitoring: Provides identity validation, monitors and reports on the student’s computer activities, monitors the student’s physical environment, and provides some question security (screenshots are prevented).
Option 5: eClass exam or another exam delivery platform - Combined with paid remote proctoring service Proctorio
- Method: Instructors use eClass or their own delivery method and combine it with the remote proctoring service, Proctorio.
- Support: Access to the remote proctor is set up through eClass, and technical support is provided through the vendor. Not recommended for exams that require the use of paper to facilitate the exam, Please see option 2.
- Cost: Proctorio charges for usage and is subject to your Dean's approval.
- Monitoring: All four types of monitoring are supplied, and an audit report is produced by the vendor. All session videos are available for instructors to review.