How Students at MUNI Started with Exams Online
Although coronavirus's pandemic situation has brought many limitations and complications, it has its positives despite all the negatives. One of them is the promotion of usage and the rapid transition to technologies enabling work, collaboration, and remote communication. And also, the students' examinations and the organization of final state examinations (FSE) online, which we approached for the first time in history at Masaryk University.
Exams from the Comfort of our Home
At the end of the semester, the students of Masaryk University were allowed to complete their final state exams remotely by the Rector and the MU Crisis Board's decision. However, not all teachers were prepared for the unusual completion of studies, both technically and practically. Therefore, it was necessary to find out the current needs and readiness of individual faculties.
"In a short time, we mapped the situation at the university and accordingly began to prepare a methodology and scenarios for the implementation of online final state exams. Some faculties already had their solutions ready, but some were really happy that we had helped them with the first steps. From a technical point of view, the fact that we have been using Office 365 technologies for a long time at the university has helped. Hence, their use was not such a big problem for some colleagues," said Matej Antol from the Institute of Computer Science (ICS), responsible for coordinating preparations.
Solution Was Ready within 14 Days
Within two weeks, the team involved in the preparation of the solution sent all faculties with a questionnaire, conducted in-depth interviews, and created a process map of the course of final state examination at four faculties. "From the user research, we found out how final state exams at seven faculties take place, what they have to deal with, and how they approach it. Thanks to this, we responded to our faculties (users) ' needs and created practical and meaningful recommendations. Of course, we worked with available technologies and legal conditions during the design. With the help of FSE (final state exams) testing we prepared several scenarios for the possible course of final state exams so that it best meets the requirements of faculties and was the least demanding for them, "explained Pavlína Špringerová from ICS, who implemented and ensured the methodological course of information collection and solution design.
The result of the work is a website with a description of the course of the remote form of FSE and online exams at MUNI, along with other pages of instructions and procedures. They are also referred to in the official recommendation document issued by the Vice-Rector for Education and Quality Michal Bulant. The preparations also included accompanying articles and interviews with experts for online exams at MUNI.
Opportunity to Shift the University
"The pandemic period has revealed an opportunity to move the university a step further. Think about how we use technology, how we teach, and test students. And we took this opportunity very well. We found out which faculty has shortcomings with technology, with software, with staff training. Together, we then individually figured out how to move forward. Thanks to this, we have prepared a solution that we can use at any time in the future if a similar situation occurs, "added Matej Antol.
Although over time, the measures in the Czech Republic have been relaxed and remote learning is only optional, many students from various fields of study have taken advantage of the online final state exam. "At the moment when we declared our preference for the remote or traditional form of the state final examination, I still perceived the situation as relatively tense and risky. That's why I chose the form of online FSE with regard to my health and that of my loved ones. Not only the restriction of contact with teachers was decisive for me, but I also considered taking a three and a half hour train journey and other organizational matters related to the trip to Brno," said Eliška W., a student of the Department of Information Studies and Librarianship (KISK).
Inspiration for other Universities
During the preparation of the methodology, the team was inspired by foreign universities, among other things; on the contrary, responses to online FSE also appeared outside their home Brno. For example, the University of West Bohemia responded, or the university magazine Universitas informed about the methodology. It is also positive that when collecting feedback from 112 responses, there were 107 responses that users found the information they were looking for.
"The impact of all our efforts was huge, mainly because we put our heads and hands together. ICS supported by Office 365 technology for cooperation, IS know-how on study matters or friendly approach by vice-deans and IT departments of individual faculties. All of this has helped create an effective solution to the sudden need for online final state exams. I would also mention the Faculty of Arts with its Centre for Information Technologies and KISK, who helped us a lot," Matej Antol summed up.
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Planned Services Shutdown
Reliable IT services are the basis to ensure the smooth running of the school year. For this reason, the necessary technical maintenance is planned before the beginning of the autumn semester. Some services will be out of operation or temporarily restricted from 18:00 on Friday 14 August until 10:00 on Sunday 16 August.