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E-Examinations with iPads...

...what a success!


It seems as though the new era of tablet PCs has now arrived at Freiburg University. On April 1st, 30 IT students were not examined using the conventional paper and pencil, instead their knowledge was tested using the virtual onscreen keyboards of iPads.

The feedback received from students was quite positive regarding technical performance. There were some small complaints about the long response time between questions, but this was also something the students were able to get used to. In any case, the initial euphoria or being examined on an iPad soon passed as students' concentration became focused on the exam questions.  

Following the successful completion of the exam, naturally the question of what to do with the results arises. Only minutes after the exam's end, Professor Schneider and his colleagues already had the test's results along with over 100 pages of statistical analysis, which will be very useful in improving the e-examination process at this early stage of the workflow. The technical requirements as well as the results and analysis were carried through by the company edu Toolbox@Bri-C.

The idea that e-tests result in a total decrease in work time is not necessary the case, as the work loads instead are distributed in different ways. Namely, designing the e-test to include challenging and simultaneously electronically evaluable exam questions takes considerably more time compared to the more traditional hand-written test questions. 

Professor Schneider's research team members Konrad Meier and Dennis Wehrle contested that it took over an hour per question to come up with appropriate and plausible false answers to the multiple choice questions. Once created, however, these questions are entered into a reserve database for future use, which can significantly reduce preparation time.  

The students commented that the most off-putting part of the exam was not the use of the iPads themselves, but instead their unfamiliarity with the question formulation, which included multiple choice, fill in the blank and hotspot questions.

All in all, this e-test pilot project with the modern tablet PCs is quite a success, from students' as well as professors' points of view, keeping in mind the lack of technical difficulties of the endeavor.  With this in mind, we hope this episode will spark the interest of other departments and faculties to consider using the e-test format in the future.