Digital Exam Assessment: How The Pandemic Is Phasing Out The ‘Pen-Paper’ Method Engrained In The Indian Education System

Despite the strenuous challenges that this crisis has posed, it has also come with a silver lining helping the Indian education system transform into one that is ready to reap the benefits of digital content delivery, learning and assessment.

Photo Credit : Photo Courtesy: BW Disrupt,

Over the last few months, as the COVID-19 pandemic took the world hostage, bringing almost everything to a grinding halt, its most profound impact has been felt on the education sector. According to a report by UNESCO, by mid-April approximately 1.5 billion children and youth across 195 countries had already been affected by the closure of educational institutions. As schools and colleges continue to remain shut in India, for over 6 months, it has led to a disruption in normal schooling, learning and assessment. Despite the strenuous challenges that this crisis has posed, it has also come with a silver lining helping the Indian education system transform into one that is ready to reap the benefits of digital content delivery, learning and assessment.  

The government, as well as private institutions, have risen up to this tremendous opportunity and quality digital learning content is being brought forth to students through online classes, DTH channels, massive open online courses (MOOCs) as well as schemes such as PM eVidya. But there is still a cloud of uncertainty around online examinations and assessments, and this is also the area wherein lies the most potential for transforming the Indian education system so as to reap India’s Demographic Dividend for Industrial Revolution 4.0.   

As we begin to freely allow digital technologies to percolate mainstream education, we ought to caution ourselves from seeing ‘learning’ and ‘assessment’ as two separate processes. Assessment should be seen as a way of ensuring that learning outcomes are achieved for all learners, and digital assessment offers tremendous advantages over the traditional pen-paper method to such an end. It enhances effectiveness, efficiency, transparency, sustainability as well as precise and easier personalization of the assessment process, all while also bringing down the cost of conducting examinations by at least 50%.   

Digital assessment effectively enhances delivering and utilizing the end product of the examination process by offering a multitude of interactive question types using multimedia - video, audio, simulations, graphs and images that enhance a learner's analytical abilities and enable experiential learning rather than superficial cramming or rote learning.   

There is tremendous opportunity to personalize the learning process by means of analytics and real-time feedback thus helping identify a student’s subject-wise weak areas, gaps in learning and the need for remedial measures. This helps in timely intervention by teachers as well as parents and helps each student achieve adequate learning targets. Another aspect of personalized learning is that strengths, interests and potential of students can easily be gauged in the long run, helping them choose suitable career options.  

Efficiency of the assessment process is also enhanced through the ease of test creation and submission as well as quicker evaluation and compilation of results by greatly simplifying the teacher’s job of scavenging through otherwise potentially illegible handwriting, manual marks totalling, annotations, handling of answer scripts, rechecking and compilation of report cards.  

E-assessments also significantly enhance the transparency of the entire process by means of secure and robust technology that ensures that the integrity of the examination process is not compromised at any cost. This is made possible by having the options of remote proctoring, live invigilation and spontaneous plagiarism checks.  

The technology involved offers great flexibility with the options of conducting exams at school or at home, online as well as off the web, in multiple languages and invoice/touch-screen/text formats thereby making them inclusive of specially-abled learners. 

Digital assessments are the future also because of being sustainable and low-cost. They help save thousands of trees and significantly reduce the costs for mundane administrative tasks as well as logistics. They also help bring down teachers’ workload by allowing for easy collaboration in test preparation as well as peer-review, and the questions created could seamlessly be added to the school’s eQuestion-bank allowing for seamless access, re-use and review, saving precious man-hours.   

Due to these extraordinary advantages and many more, digital assessments have already started to offset the traditional pen-paper method. They are proving to overhaul India’s exam ‘type-setting’, and countries the world over are already utilising them with immense student success.  

The pandemic has offered us an excellent opportunity to reshape the way India sits for exams! This is also an opportunity to close the gap and bring our education system on par with some of the best in the world and this is definitely not a goal far from reach, especially with many Indian companies and startups already providing state-of-the-art EdTech solutions to schools the world over. It is thus time to reap the power of this innovation and turn our schools into places of learning, personality development and socialization so as to make our children truly future-ready. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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