education, IB, life, school

A forward step in education

A delightful notification came to my classroom last week. It was a consent form for sitting in trials of online assessment for International Baccalaureate (IB) – the education system I am a part of now.  

If successful, the trials will make way for fully computerised examinations in the year 2015, luckily the year when I give my IB exams. The initiative will place another feather in this organisation’s cap, already racing ahead of Cambridge International and its likes, as it will become the first major education board in the world to conduct electronic assessment (e-assessment) at a higher secondary school level. 

Gladly, I had the opportunity to sit in the trials  yesterday, which contained a task for the subject English and one interdisciplinary task. 

Was the pen and paper missed? 

Despite the fact that the results of the exam did not count in our progress, it felt unusual walking in the computer lab with just a pen and a completely different mind set. No last minute ink refilling sessions or fretting over how much writing can the exam require. It was just a humming computer, dusty keyboard and our mind.

However, the pen and paper were slightly missed or at least expected to be so we were also handed out with rough sheets to take notes on.  

What stood out in the process was the opportunity to write much more and without fear of errors – something restricted with the use of pen and paper. 

I myself have often struggled within to decide whether to slash and cross line for the sake of a better idea or keep intact the neatness of the answer – something stressed upon in Pakistan. To say the least, it is not a fruitful debate in an hour and a half exam. 

Having said so, I would admit, I ended up writing much more than I would have on a paper, which can be disadvantageous in the presence of a word limit. In fact, it can also be an issue for people battling with answering speed. 

Scope for improvement

Even though the overall experience was a pleasure, IB can surely do with some improvements in its user interface. 

The need for an onscreen timer was certainly felt by me and most of my peers. More so because the time displayed by the Windows is also not visible when we enter the exam portal. 

Also, all elements did not fit the screen well. For example, the first time I had to call the invigilator to help me look for a way to exit the screen and go to the main page to access another question. Finally, we had to scroll to the extreme right where a small cross sign was tucked away. 

Final verdict

Generally, the trial was a smooth experience for something in its phasing stages.