Is it possible for Delhi University to make its online examination system foolproof within the next month?
The MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) has announced that the students of the final year can sit for the examinations by September-end. Now, what remains to be seen is how will the Universities arrange for a seamless and efficient examination system.
The Delhi University is still holding onto its decision of conducting online examinations of its final year students. The University will stick to its decision even after the continued protests of the faculty as well as the students. Those students, who were ready to take the online test were also disappointed by the mock tests organized by the Delhi University.
What all is required to build a portal that can manage the traffic load of lakhs of students, who are all logging in at the same time and take a seamless examination? It is not very complicated to create such a portal. The students are supposed to access their answer scripts by logging in and then solve them. After they are done, they have to upload the answer scripts on the portal by taking their pictures.
The mock tests along with being poorly designed were also very glitchy. There were first-year questions as sample questions and the Chemistry questions were shown to the Commerce students.
But this was a problem which students faced once they logged in. Many students were unable to log in to the examination portal. These students either did not receive the CAPTCHA or the OTP.
These claims were said to be baseless by the officials of the Delhi University. They said that this system was devised to only make the students familiar with the system and it was not an actual test. A senior official of the University said that only 38 question papers were uploaded as sample papers. Therefore, the allegations of the wrong question paper being downloaded are simply not true.
Sunil Aggarwal from Pearson India said that there are two types of online exams. The first type is where the internet connectivity’s onus is on the University. The second is where the student is required to ensure good internet connectivity.
The first type is used by the universities and the colleges to conduct online admission tests. In this case, there is a center where the candidates have to report and take their exams on a computer. The responsibility of maintaining the internet connection and invigilation lies with the colleges.
The second type is called remote exams. In this, the student writes their exams from home and the responsibility of having a good internet connection lies with them. The problem lies in this method. Many students from all the Universities of India are facing problems because of this.
Third-party platforms can be helpful in conducting university exams. These systems are not even difficult to set up. Sunil said that these third-party platforms operate in a plug-and-play model. These can be set inside the website of the University. Many universities who use these third-party platforms prepare such question bans which have many questions. Different question papers are sent to different students.
The final exams of Delhi University will see around 2.5 lakh students, all logging in at the same time. Will it be possible to handle so much traffic? Sunil said that it is possible. Only the concerned platform provider must be told by the institution and the capacity can be adjusted accordingly.
Then why was it that there were issues in the opening of the website when the students were only logging in? There were issues ranging from 502 Gateway error to Bad Request. The %02 Gateway Error surfaces when there is an overloading of the server or when the proxy server is unable to connect to the other server.
Bad Request comes up when the command sent from the computer was incorrect and not understandable by the server.
The point of mock tests is to find out glitches, is it possible to fix these glitches so quickly? Another big question also comes up who is managing the site? The computer center of the University- DUCC has been asked by the University to come up with an online portal for the online exams. But, on the website, there is no trace of the website being run by any platform provider or the filing of any tender to look for any platform provider.
A senior faculty member said that there was a tender available on the website but it was deleted later.
Now, is the site being operated by the DUCC? Sunil said that to set up such a platform, it is an arduous process. He said that even the National testing Agency (NTA) gives the platform world to the private players. It will take years to build such a platform and is capital-consuming.
Students alleged that they saw on the website that it was being managed by Amazon. But there is a lack of evidence to prove this claim. Another problem which has arisen is that of the sanctity of exams. In the online system, the only invigilation is the faith that the students will not cheat.
Sunil said that online proctoring is quite prevalent as an aspect all over the world. It has proven to be quite effective.
Delhi University needs to work on its website harder in order to provide a seamless experience to the students. This seamless experience can be provided to the students only if they are in a region with good connectivity. The mock tests conducted by the University have given not much of a positive vibe to the students and has left their lives hanging on the balance.