Oxford University has conducted a trial of written exams undertaken on computer, as University authorities consider a major rehaul of Oxford’s examinations policy.

Participants in the trial, conducted in April last year, included the Department of Computing Science, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Theology and Religion. The project was carried out by IT Services in a selection of college collections in conjunction with the subject departments.

The Education IT Programme said: “The e-exams project investigated the potential of the digital examination system for use with typed, invigilated examinations by funding and running trials during the start of Trinity term 2018”.

The trials used Inspira software platform. An Oxford University spokesperson told Cherwell that “computers were locked down and resources including spellcheck and thesaurus were removed”.

They added: “The trial has been evaluated and the results and next steps are being discussed within the University, but no decision about wider adoption has been made.”

“The pilot was a small-scale exercise in bringing examinations into line with how students learn and will apply their knowledge in the future.”

In Michaelmas 2016, the Digital Education Strategy consultation with academic staff and studentsidentified increasing interest intrialling the use of technology for assessments.

Currently, the use of a word processor in exams is limited for students with Specific Learning Differences or physical disabilities/illnesses that make writing difficult.

The news comes as e-exams are being used more often at other universities across the country.

In the UK, according to a survey by the Heads of eLearning Forum, more than 60% of universities have introduced e-exams in at least one or two modules.

Brunel University is one of the first UK institutions to introduce digital exams, encouraging students to use their own laptops. Brunel’s director of learning, Simon Kent, said that this move tried to make assessment as authentic as possible.

However, not all are in agreement. Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, Chris McGovern, told The Times that “we need to break the dependence on digital technology and encourage young people to remain multiskilled.”

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