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(KTU) Kerala Technological university decides to drop online questions and evaluation

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Manorma Online | 29 December 2015 | Renji Kuriakose | Dumping excellent ways for old habits… |

Everyone thought that the arrival of technological university would make big changes in engineering education in Kerala and exam results would come on time. The university started on a grand note. Growth of technology was seen in its office too. By adopting e-governance, without the usual files and notes, the office became a novelty. E-payment replaced money transactions. And it had only 15 employees, including vice-chancellor, pro vice-chancellor and even peon and driver.
Opposition against online system
When the university decided to prepare questions for different exams and do evaluation online, a controversy erupted. If the new mode of conducting exams succeeds, gradually it will be implemented in other universities in Kerala. With that the workload of university employees and their number will come down in stages. Associations of university employees and others strongly oppose it.  Though the associations demanded that at least some employees of other universities must be taken on deputation by the technological university, the authorities did not relent. Their demand is that at least 70 experienced employees must be appointed to handle affiliation, board of studies and faculty. Instead, they allege that university authorities are trying to settle staff from the secretariat and retired teachers.
Old style exams are vanishing
Modern online exams and evaluation are in vogue throughout the world. It speeds up results and helps students to start looking for jobs early. The old practice of printing question papers and conducting examination is vanishing. It is amidst this that the technological university has decided to drop online questions and evaluation and return to the old methods.  Even now it is not clear how this university, which does not have adequate staff, will print B.Tech question papers and send them to 154 engineering colleges in Kerala and collect answer papers and send them to 10 evaluation centres. By moving to the old system, it will take three to eight months to release B.Tech first semester results. Results of following semesters will be delayed further.
Advantages of online system
It was decided to move to the modern exam system after consulting the education minister, the higher education secretary and principals of engineering colleges many times. As per this system, of the five sets of questions prepared for the B.Tech exam, one set will go to different centres one hour before the exam when the controller of exams presses a button.  The exam is conducted after downloading this set. Students are given only a bar-coded 24-page answer paper. The answers have to be limited within that space. The answer papers are then scanned and uploaded on the server from the college.  Then teachers can evaluate answer papers from anywhere in the world. After evaluation by one person, the same answer paper will go to another examiner. If there is more than 15 per cent difference between the marks given by two examiners, it will be evaluated by a third person. The student will get the average of two highest marks. There is no re-evaluation. Students will get results within days of writing the exam.
Controversies become hurdles
The contract for software and hardware to conduct the exam was given to a company, MeritTrac, through e-tender. The company’s 400 employees were assigned to engineering colleges to download questions and scan answer papers. This led to the allegation that using them instead of university staff will affect trust in the exam.  However, university authorities say that these jobs can be done only if the college principal and the external observer give secret passwords, and special cameras have been installed in each college to observe the process from the university.  In the old exam system, question papers were printed in private security presses. If they were safe, it is argued that the new system is also safe. Amidst protests against the new system, the technological university conducted first semester MBA exam in the new mode and announced results in three days. So far there has been no complaint against the way this exam was held.  Critics argue that the university must develop its own software to conduct exams. Though the university contacted C-DAC for this purpose, so far it has not got a reply. MeritTrac uses software developed by a British company over 10 years. TCS’s software was developed over years. Experts point out that it is impossible to cobble together software to conduct exams. – Courtesy

e-revaluation system of university in limbo | The Hindu | G. Mahadevan |

An online system for revaluation of answer scripts developed by the University of Kerala two years ago has remained a non-starter due to bureaucratic inertia in the varsity. The system, developed in-house by the university, aims at speeding up revaluation of answer sheets; a procedure that takes weeks, if not months, at present. The online revaluation system is part of a larger process of hosting all examinations of the university on an online platform. Even though a detailed Syndicate note has been prepared for the same, the proposal has been put on the backburner following the “online examination imbroglio” at the A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU). The KTU had to defer the introduction of an online examination system after students’ and teachers’ organisations protested the outsourcing of a portion of the examination process to a private agency. Under the online revaluation scheme readied by the University of Kerala, a candidate can apply for revaluation through the examination portal. The designated university staff can then scan the required number of answer sheets — using a high-speed scanner — and forward it to the designated evaluator. The evaluator would be selected from a list of teachers maintained by the university. The Kerala University Computer Centre has a digital teachers’ index which can be used for this purpose.

The evaluator, on his part, would be able to access the answer sheets at the click of a button. “He will get the full answer paper in electronic form along with the mark list. The evaluator can then award marks and submit the same to the university through the examination portal itself,” a university official familiar with the scheme told The Hindu . The designated staff can then access the re-valued answer sheets and after a process of cross-checking can forward them for publication. On notification, the candidate can download the revaluation result from the university’s examination portal. The ‘change memo’ for the re-valued answer sheets can be forwarded to the candidate duly endorsed by the university officials concerned.  “There is a fear in the minds of a section of the staff that any automation of the examination process would render them irrelevant in the university. This is one of the main reasons why the online revaluation system has not taken off. Now, the revaluation section is manned by a number of officials led by a deputy registrar,” a university official associated with the examination process said. – Courtesy


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