University budgets are tight and expenses often require regular and extensive reviews to ensure that these budgets are met. Many people think that adopting a digital exam managment system is a hugely expensive investment and are very wary. However, what needs to considered is how much is it really costing you to run paper based assessments? And has the long term cost per student of an inevitable technology upgrade really been considered? It may surprise you to learn of the benefits that a digital exam system can provide, far outweighing those of a paper based exam system.
The burdens of paper based exams
There are a huge amount of items to factor in to the equation when trying to calculate the cost of running paper based exams. Here are just a few financial burdens and administrative challenges to consider:
Human labour. One of the most important resources in educational institutions is human labour. There never seems to be enough time in the day or enough people in the department to get everything done. This could include time taken to:
- Create good questions
- Review questions
- Compile the exam – finding which questions to use from a vast quantity of documents.
- Mark towering piles of exam papers and inputting marks into spreadsheets
- Calculate statistics (how successful was the question, discrimination index) after an exam has taken place. This often requires an outside resource.
- Print copies of exam papers and answer sheets
Cost of resources. The staggering cost of physical resources needed for a paper exam cannot be taken for granted. The cost of paper and ink for one exam paper may not be sky high, but multiply that cost by a cohort of 100 candidates, multiple times per year for every department and the figures become slightly harder to stomach. Not to mention if a mistake is found in the exam paper and it needs to be reprinted.
Improving quality and reducing your exam burdens
All things considered, the initial investment required to establish a digital exam management system becomes less and less every time the system is used to run an exam and substantially less every year the system is used.
There are many benefits to running exams digitally:
Security – Improve security by using an encrypted system with intelligent user permissions that ensure only the right people are seeing your questions and exams. This means no exam papers left in unlocked drawers or email attachments.
Usability – Speed up the process of creating an exam with the help of question banking which allows questions to be stored and filed appropriately for future use.
Reliability – Easily collate information and statistics by using digital exam management software that creates extensive reports and feedback at a question, exam and candidate level so you can easily prioritise the importance and usefulness of questions.
Flexibility – Change your exams up to the last minute in a few clicks. No more printing schedules and unnecessary waste.
What could you gain by switching to computer based exam management?
It’s true that there can be an initial cost associated with changing over to a digital exam management system. However, it’s also costing you a lot to be inefficient. If you want to improve the efficiency, resourcefulness and cost-effectiveness of running exams then you need to consider digital exam management.