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Digital exams

Conversion to digital exams

Yes, the ­Corona Epidemic University Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia ­expressly allows ­universities to ­conduct online examinations by resolution of the respective examination board (section 6). For example, oral digital examinations have already been successfully practiced at TU Dortmund University since the summer semester 2020. Due to the currently valid Corona protection measures, digital examinations have been offered throughout on a preferential basis in the winter semester 2020/21 and also take place mainly digitally in the summer semester 2021. The necessary infrastructure for this will remain completely in place. Teachers are able to access a steadily growing offer of support services on the Moodle learning platform. 

Yes. On the basis of the ­Corona Epidemic University Ordinance of ­the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, TU ­Dortmund ­University ­adopted the ­Corona Ordinance ­for Study and Examination Operations in ­the ­summer semester of ­2020. ­This enables the change of the examination form if an examination ­cannot be ­carried out­ in the originally intended form or can only be ­carried out­ under more difficult conditions ­due to the Corona protection measures. The examination board must decide this. Depending on the subject and the specific content of the examination, oral examinations, homework or written assignments are possible instead of written examinations, for example. If the form of examination is changed, this applies uniformly to all participating students. This does not apply to cases of hardship or disadvantage compensation for students with special needs. Registration and deregistration deadlines may change with the new examination form.

No. The form of examination is determined by the examination board. However, it is possible to make exceptions. If students prove that they cannot take the digital exam (e.g. due to a lack of technical equipment, see below), the examiner/supervisor can specify an alternative.

Examination law does not specify a precise deadline for the obligation to inform. It is recommended that, if organizationally possible, students are informed at least 14 days before the exam where and how it will take place or, if necessary, whether it will be postponed.

Implementation of digital examinations

A detailed checklist and a chart with general information on online exams are available on the Service­Portal.

Examiners can choose different digital alternatives instead of a written exam on site. For example, exams in Moodle or open-book exams for download and upload within a specified time period are possible. In the case of open-book exams, the task is designed in such a way that the focus is not on knowledge that can be looked up, but on a higher level of understanding, which is why using resources/aids is permitted.

However, it is also possible to have a homework assignment (take-home-exam), in which students write a paper on a more complex problem within a specified period of time, or to switch to oral exams. Examinations that have already been carried out with EvaExam Online can still be carried out with it.

Yes: The examiner/proctor can and must check whether the student is actually the person authorized to take the examination by registration. In proctored exams, this can be done via video conferencing, for example.

The examiner/proctor is eligible to ask students to hold an identification document (UniCard, ID card, or other official ID document with a photo) up to the camera. In the case of examinations with several participants, e.g. digital written examinations or other group examinations, care must be taken that identities are verified individually in a protected area of the video conference, for example in a breakout room. This prevents the other participants from seeing personal data from documents such as ID cards. Likewise, an extended view into the private premises remains protected if - as is usual for oral examinations, for example - the entire room has to be shown once via webcam at the beginning. All details except first and last name and the photo may be masked on the ID document. If necessary due to time reasons, the identification procedure can also be carried out in parallel by several supervisors in several breakout rooms.

Examiners/proctors may also decide that the verification of identity will be done via the submission of an affidavit in which students affirm that they are lawfully taking the examination, are working on it independently, and are capable of taking the examination.

Yes, this is legally permissible and privacy compliant. The examiner/proctor is allowed to supervise students by video and also to be shown their room once before the exam. Observation is only permitted from one perspective (i.e. no more than one camera).  The breakout function in Zoom can also be used to verify identity. Recording during the exam or the use of AI-supported software for video surveillance, on the other hand, is not permitted under data protection law and is not technically possible due to the available systems. There is also no observation of the screens. For teachers, there is a Moodle room with information and tips on how to organize and conduct digital exams.

Yes, students are allowed to use the background function, e.g. of Zoom, at their own request to protect their privacy. If cheating is suspected, the examiners can request clarification in a breakout session where the display of the background image is briefly discontinued.

Digital exams can be taken via the existing Moodle, Zoom, and Webex systems. Sciebo and UniMail can be used as well. Teachers who have already been trained accordingly can also use EvaExam Online. No new purchases are planned in the short term.

Many tasks can be edited digitally and uploaded afterwards. Editing or digitizing may require the installation of certain programs (e.g. scanning apps or PDF annotation software). Submission formats/file formats must be clarified in a timely manner. Assignments that are completed on paper can be photographed with a cell phone and uploaded. Teachers can additionally offer examinees alternative ways of submitting their results, for example by e-mail. This can also ensure timely submission of results if, for example, technical problems occur with Moodle.

Students are responsible - as in analog exams - for ensuring that their solutions are legible to the examiner. This also applies to the legibility of scans.

Teachers are not allowed to demand that the students obtain additional equipment for the examination. Even though there is no general right to an examination on campus or to an alternative form of examination, the examiner, however, may make a discretionary decision on a case-by-case basis and provide a room if an examinee does not have the necessary equipment. The right to disadvantage compensation for students with special needs remains unaffected. General ­information on disadvantage compensation can be found on the homepage of DoBuS.

If problems of a technical nature verifiably occur through no fault of the student, the responsible examination board can examine the circumstances and, for example, grant a retry of the exam. Students should document any technical malfunctions that occur, for example by taking a screenshot. Teachers can also offer examinees alternative ways of submitting their results, for example by e-mail.

Students taking a digital exam must submit a declaration of authorship. A text module is provided by the examination office for this purpose.

Just as in the case of analog examinations, attempts to cheat may be controlled in case of suspicion. It is therefore possible for teachers to ask students to come into a breakout room during the examination in order to carry out a check there.

Yes, examiners/proctors are not allowed to prohibit restroom visits during the exam. However, as with exams on campus, examiners/proctors may document such exam interruptions.

Yes, even if written examinations in face-to-face format are changed to digital formats at short notice, equal opportunity examination conditions for students with impairments must be guaranteed. You can find more information about disadvantage compensation in digital exams on the website of the Department of Disability and Studies (DoBuS).

Further information

The examination authority is with the faculties. Therefore, the examination boards are named as the decision-making authority in the TU Corona Regulations. They must approve the change of examination form (e.g. from face-to-face to digital examination) and they also decide on formal objections.

Since mid-January, teachers have been able to access a steadily growing offer of support services on the Moodle learning platform. The zhb Department of Academic Teaching & Faculty Development can answer questions about the design of open-book exams. A guide for video exams is available in the ServicePortal.

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