Digital exams pilot

Beginning in Trimester 1 2019, Victoria University of Wellington will be piloting digital exams.

The first phase will involve a small number of Faculty of Law and Victoria Business School courses, at 200 level or above.

Students involved in the pilot will type, rather than handwrite, their exam scripts. Other than this, the nature of the exam will not change, and all existing assessment rules and processes will apply. Students needing additional support will be able to access this through Disability Services as usual.

Prior to the start of Trimester 1, we’ll contact students enrolled in courses selected for the pilot with detailed information about how it will run. Students in the pilot will have the opportunity to practise and familiarise themselves with the software throughout the trimester, before exams begin in June.

Frequently asked questions

The following answers some of the most frequently asked questions about the digital exam pilot.

If you have questions, the project team can be contacted at digital-exams@vuw.ac.nz.

Why is the university trialling digital exams?

Digital exams are likely to have significant benefits for students. Students are experienced in typing essays, assignments, and other coursework, and this is an extension of that. Typing also means that the content is more legible to those marking the exam. In addition, typing rather than handwriting is common practice in the workplace.

Digital exams are likely to reduce the administrative tasks associated with assessment, and in the long term we expect students will benefit from more efficient processes around online marking.

It’s also important that we keep pace with other universities and meet the current and future expectations of staff and students. Digital exams are being trialled by the Universities of Auckland, Otago, and Waikato, and many overseas universities have been successfully running digital exams for a number of years. Digital exams have become standard practice in many law schools in the United States.

Finally, the reduction in paper use aligns with our sustainability goals.

What device will students use for digital exams?

Students will be able to use their own computer (i.e. laptop with keyboard).  If a student does not own a computer, we’ll discuss their situation with them on a case-by-case basis.

What software will the University be using?

The software we are using is called Inspera Assessment, which is used by universities around the world. Examples include the University of Oslo, where it was rolled out following a 2011 student-led campaign for digital exams, and is now used by over 50,000 students; more recently, it was selected by the University of Oxford who ran a successful digital exam pilot in 2018.

Is the software compatible with my computer?

The software is compatible with all major operating systems. Students using their own devices will be able to test out the software on their computers in advance, and will have the opportunity to bring in their computers for our IT specialists to check, ensuring they meet the specifications and that the software is running smoothly.

Will I have the opportunity to practise?

Yes, students in the pilot will be able to try out the software and practise using it before the exam. The project team will support students closely throughout the pilot to ensure they’re comfortable with the software and the digital exam process.

I have further questions. How do I find out more?

We’ll be providing further information for students in courses selected for the pilot before the start of Trimester 1 2019. We also plan to host familiarisation sessions during the trimester, where students will have the opportunity to have their questions answered.

You can also email the project team at digital-exams@vuw.ac.nz, or talk to your student representatives from the Law and Commerce students’ associations, who we’ll be working with throughout the pilot.