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We have a contingent of faculty who would like to give their midterms and final exams in large lecture halls (250 student classes) with our online testing unit via Wi-Fi. We (IT) have cautioned that we believe this is a recipe for disaster because of all the students trying to access the same site at relatively the same time, but we're wondering if anyone has accomplished this.

 

The driving force for this is quicker feedback on the exams to the students. We have suggested Scantron forms that could be graded quickly and posted to the online grade book, but the faculty are pushing for a technology solution. ( I should mention that this ia a 40-50 questions multiple choice test, so Scantron is definitely an option.)

 

Any advice/comments  would be welcome!

 

Thanks in advance --

 

-Ross

--------------------------------

Ross McKenzie

Director of Information Technology

Johns Hopkins University

Bloomberg School of Public Health

Baltimore, MD 21025

 

 

 

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

Ross,

 

Unless you have 10 or more 802.11n gig connected access points serving the room (all using the 5.8ghz 802.11n band) and can force students to connect to them at that frequency and as “n” clients, I wouldn’t do it.  There is no way “g” radios will provide the required service unless you have a very creative installation of many radios at extremely low power hidden under tables.

 

Ron Walczak    PMP, RCDD, CWNA/CWSP
Walczak Technology Consultants, Inc
(724) 865-2740

"The great aim of education is not knowledge but action." - Herbert Spencer

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple; 
but only God can count the apples in a seed. 


Ross:

I think what Ron was talking about is the type of Wireless NAC control provided by Cisco or Aruba. You can steer all of your N devices to 5 GHz and let the 2.4 GHz take care of your 802.11g devices. We have found that 90% of our student devices are able to steer toward the higher bandwidth so you may be surprised to find that you can cover it with 2 maybe 3 APs.

Greg Smith
Chief Information Officer
George Fox University
------------------------------
Be Known at Oregon's Nationally Recognized Christian University


Message from luke.fernandez@gmail.com

I'd recommend the scantron solution if you aren't sure about the digital resources. We have an online testing system that allows a test to either be delivered online or as a scantron; the student results all end up in the same system by the end of the day. One department moves seamlessly between the online and scantron delivery-- usually opting for the scantron format when testing centers are burdened during finals. Your situation sounds similar Cheers, Luke http://itintheuniversity.blogspot.com
Message from shelf@westernu.edu

Just a quick thought and what we are rolling this year at COMP:

 

Have you considered ExamSoft? Their approach is different, in that the exam is pre-loaded and encrypted on the students’ computers, and, submission of the test is asynchronous.

 

This takes the load off of the WiFi and network, in a sense, as well as provides a “backup” of the students’ responses, encrypted, on their computer. They can even upload their exam from off of the network / outside the exam time (after the exam, when they get home, etc. –but, the neat thing is that the exam is “time locked”; clever!).

 

We surveyed other schools using this solution, and, largely, they appear quite happy. We also surveyed a few hacker / security sites, and the consensus it is far easier to study for the exam than to the constantly try and “break” ExamSoft…unlike one solution we had written permission from the company to, and successfully, broke…

 

For high stakes exams, it seems ExamSoft may be the way to go. For “instant” feedback, “clickers” are likely still the best bet (as well as hashtags and Twitter for text responses).

 

Hope this helps the discussion.

 

Sincerely,

 

Scott Helf, DO, MSIT

Chief Technology Officer-COMP

Director, Academic Informatics

Assistant Professor

 

Department of Academic Informatics

Office of Academic Affairs

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific

Western University of Health Sciences

309 East 2nd Street

Pomona, CA  91766

 

909-781-4353

shelf@westernu.edu

 

www.westernu.edu

 

-sch

 

 

 

From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Greg Smith
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 10:28 AM
To: CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [CIO] Large Group Online Testing via Wifi

 

Ross:

I think what Ron was talking about is the type of Wireless NAC control provided by Cisco or Aruba. You can steer all of your N devices to 5 GHz and let the 2.4 GHz take care of your 802.11g devices. We have found that 90% of our student devices are able to steer toward the higher bandwidth so you may be surprised to find that you can cover it with 2 maybe 3 APs.

Greg Smith
Chief Information Officer
George Fox University
------------------------------
Be Known at Oregon's Nationally Recognized Christian University

Message from shelf@westernu.edu

Ron and Ross,

 

But, if the exam was pre-loaded days / hours before, and submitted within a reasonable, asynchronous window, would that work? (Following up per previous post).

 

Just thinking a little differently about the problem.

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Scott Helf, DO, MSIT

Chief Technology Officer-COMP

Director, Academic Informatics

Assistant Professor

 

Department of Academic Informatics

Office of Academic Affairs

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific

Western University of Health Sciences

309 East 2nd Street

Pomona, CA  91766

 

909-781-4353

shelf@westernu.edu

 

www.westernu.edu

 

 

 

From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Ron Walczak
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 10:04 AM
To: CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [CIO] Large Group Online Testing via Wifi

 

Ross,

 

Unless you have 10 or more 802.11n gig connected access points serving the room (all using the 5.8ghz 802.11n band) and can force students to connect to them at that frequency and as “n” clients, I wouldn’t do it.  There is no way “g” radios will provide the required service unless you have a very creative installation of many radios at extremely low power hidden under tables.

 

Ron Walczak    PMP, RCDD, CWNA/CWSP
Walczak Technology Consultants, Inc
(724) 865-2740

"The great aim of education is not knowledge but action." - Herbert Spencer

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple; 
but only God can count the apples in a seed. 

 

During our Freshmen Orientation, we held a test with 100+ students at one general location. We did not encounter any server problems as most of these testing sites are setup to handle the traffic. Other things to consider is to make sure IT or help is available if anything goes wrong. We had student workers help the Freshmen with any possible browser problem, login problems, etc. This is especially important if you are doing it the first time. The network held up as we increased the density of AP in the area. When you increase the density of AP, you must also decrease the power of each. God bless, Sam Young Chief Information Officer Point Loma Nazarene University Individualization ~ Achiever ~ Learner ~ Belief ~ Activator From: Scott Helf > Reply-To: EDUCAUSE Listserv > Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2012 18:55:52 +0000 To: EDUCAUSE Listserv > Subject: Re: [CIO] Large Group Online Testing via Wifi Just a quick thought and what we are rolling this year at COMP: Have you considered ExamSoft? Their approach is different, in that the exam is pre-loaded and encrypted on the students’ computers, and, submission of the test is asynchronous. This takes the load off of the WiFi and network, in a sense, as well as provides a “backup” of the students’ responses, encrypted, on their computer. They can even upload their exam from off of the network / outside the exam time (after the exam, when they get home, etc. –but, the neat thing is that the exam is “time locked”; clever!). We surveyed other schools using this solution, and, largely, they appear quite happy. We also surveyed a few hacker / security sites, and the consensus it is far easier to study for the exam than to the constantly try and “break” ExamSoft…unlike one solution we had written permission from the company to, and successfully, broke… For high stakes exams, it seems ExamSoft may be the way to go. For “instant” feedback, “clickers” are likely still the best bet (as well as hashtags and Twitter for text responses). Hope this helps the discussion. Sincerely, Scott Helf, DO, MSIT Chief Technology Officer-COMP Director, Academic Informatics Assistant Professor Department of Academic Informatics Office of Academic Affairs College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Western University of Health Sciences 309 East 2nd Street Pomona, CA 91766 909-781-4353 shelf@westernu.edu www.westernu.edu -sch From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Greg Smith Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 10:28 AM To: CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [CIO] Large Group Online Testing via Wifi Ross: I think what Ron was talking about is the type of Wireless NAC control provided by Cisco or Aruba. You can steer all of your N devices to 5 GHz and let the 2.4 GHz take care of your 802.11g devices. We have found that 90% of our student devices are able to steer toward the higher bandwidth so you may be surprised to find that you can cover it with 2 maybe 3 APs. Greg Smith Chief Information Officer George Fox University ------------------------------ Be Known at Oregon's Nationally Recognized Christian University

I agree, Ross, high-stakes online tests, long tests, administered to very large number of students using their own laptops is a recipe for two (2) disasters.

 

There are so many things that can and will go wrong:

 

1.      Even if multiple good dry run tests involving all variables have been done successfully, some of the 250 student-owned notebook computers will run into problems – are you going to have tech support in the room(s) to assist students with this extreme time-sensitive requirements for assistance?

2.      Some of the students’ laptops will freeze, run out of battery or have some type of problem.

3.      Also, students with the best/fastest laptop will have an advantage over others… is that fair, especially for a high-stakes real-time examination that must be completed by everyone within an allotted amount of time?

4.      Beefing up your wireless network in the vicinity of the room(s) where the online tests will be administered is probably the least of your (our) problems, but make sure that adequate sustainable Wi-Fi capacity is allocated and independent that any factors that would otherwise affect its performance.

5.      Does your LMS or online testing system have ample capacity to sustain the massive prolonged online examination?

Typically, LMS and online testing systems need to be finely tuned to be able to scale and adapt to unpredictable online testing loads.  I say unpredictable because also typically, these MS and online testing systems lack intelligence to provide colleges and universities to manage and schedule the online testing resources of the system.

In Blackboard Learn, for example, as well as in OpenClass, Moodle, Desire2Learn, Instructure Canvas and QuestionMark Perception, there are no facilities to schedule or otherwise limit online tests concurrency to match the school’s LMS or online testing software.  Even when these systems gain such much-needed intelligence, will they be smart enough to gage not just the number of students and the length of each class exam to help manage quizzing resources, or will these systems dive deep into each actual test and analyze the types of question types and student activities that each student will have to do during the actual examinations?

6.      Of course, a large high-stake online examination of this nature will have to be very well proctored, but make sure also to license Respondus LockDown Browser or similar software and that everyone has it installed in order to take the test.  Respondus LockDown Browser essentially disables one’s personal computer to run any other application or even to be able to switch to any other application (like a little live text-chat window).  Instructors tell an LMS, like Blackboard Learn, to enforce Respondus LockDown Browser as the only browser to use for a given test, and when the students click on the link to begin the test, all other programs are closed and the Respondus Lockdown Browser is launched.

Software like RLB is only useful when administering online tests in controlled/proctored environments; this software is useless for distance learning (remote) unproctored online examinations because a cheating student could have multiple computers running audio/video conferencing chat, application sharing, cell  phones, Google+ Hangouts with Extras, and even knowledgeable students who took and aced the tests previously, standing right next to him or at arms lengths.

 

I am very familiar with the wide range of problems and issues that can and do emerge with extended, massive, high-stakes online examinations.  My primary responsibility at UIC is to support the instructional technology needs of the students, faculty and teaching staff.  On any given semester at UIC, over 8,000 online tests are administered on our Backboard Learn LMS system – many of these tests are huge and/or administered to hundreds of concurrent students, although, mostly in a distance learning fashion, over the network, but within these very narrow time windows.

 

For years, I/we have tried to advise our faculty that online tests and the LMS’ online quizzing subsystems are not designed for administering extended, long, high-stakes online examinations given to hundreds of students; we tell them that Blackboard Learn (and most everyone else) do not have tools to help manage and allocate the CPU-intensive quizzing resources of the system, and that LMS quizzing subsystems are architecture and ideal for making available a lot of short little online quizzes, ungraded, perhaps, and taking only a few minutes to complete (as opposed to hours). 

 

The primary function of LMS quizzing engines is to facilitate short quizzes to provide, both the student and the instructors with immediate feedback on how well the students understand the educational content at hand, how well the students are learning, for just-in-time-teaching applications that give faculty an opportunity to alter how the next “lecture time” is spent, given how well the students pre-tested.  Unfortunately, the LMS’ promise of instant grading, instant feedback, and facilitating a virtual grader that automagically grades and weights everything is just too good to ignore. L

 

Another instructional design advice that I like to give is that in this day in age, we should administered authentic assessments and collaborative learning activities and assignments, instead of simply digitizing century-old sequential pencil and paper examination marathons, but that is entirely another subject.

 

You may want to take a look at how we approach the subject of online tests, on the UIC Instructional Technology Lab (ITL) Blog at www.accc.uic.edu/itl/blog. On the left side, look at the links for Blackboard Learn Test and Resumable Tests, understanding that they will, for the most part apply to Moodle, Sakai, Canvas, Desire2Learn and other systems.

 

Greetings from Chicago,

 

--

Ed Garay

Assistant Director for Academic Computing (ACCC)

Director, UIC Instructional Technology Lab (ITL)

University of Illinois at Chicago

 

www.accc.uic.edu/itl

www.twitter.com/garay

 

** Ubiquitously social…

 

Scott,

It’s all about physics

The concurrent load on any channel (driven by the number of clients and the information being transmitted/received) will determine end user satisfaction.  Most manufacturers suggest no more than 20-25 concurrent sessions per AP.  But this of course assumes they are “typical” users.  If your students are truly uploading a file that is already complete – it will eventually get through and the lag won’t be too much of an issue.  My concern would be any real time applications where delays would create problems (waiting for a video to queue or even an answer to “register”).

 

Since “2.4 Ghz g” only provides three non interfering channels – it is all but useless in an open room with 250 students.  Co-Channel interference will wreak havoc. 

 

If you force associations to the “5.8 Ghz a” band, you immediately increase the channel count to 20. If you go with 40Mhz “5.8 Ghz n” channels you still have 9.  250/9=27 connections per AP.  If the connections are “n” (300Mbps) 27 connections should be fine for just about any use.  But remember, one “g” client in either band associating with an AP makes it a “g” AP for everyone when it is communicating with the “g” client.  You can set minimum connection speeds to help guard against a slow client connection ruining everyone’s day.

 

The best analogy I have come up with is to consider what cellular carriers are doing to meet demand – they are creating smaller cells with lower power to concentrate users to specific connection points.  The closer you are to a cell connection, the less power is consumed.  And my creating micro cells that are hard wired back to the network, smaller groups share more bandwidth.  Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are a key to this strategy.  The same is true with 802.11.  More APS at lower power means fewer associations to any single access point.


Message from shelf@westernu.edu

Hi Ron,

 

Fully aware of the physics, and thank you for the refresher.

 

Actually, physics in this case is not the issue—and that is the case I am making.

 

If you are willing to let the student walk out of your environment, i.e., geographical fixed point / AP laden environment, and upload their results later, from home, or somewhere else on or off the network, the AP issue becomes null. Remember the exam is time locked and encrypted.


Think asynchronous, and about 80% of the issues mentioned in this post disappear. Laptop reliability, folks determine to cheat, etc., are part of the 20% that does not go away.

 

Check out how ExamSoft works – again, the AP issue is null, given their approach, if  allowing students a few hours to get their test uploaded from home, Starbucks, their cell tethered to a laptop, etc. Feel free to give me a jingle and we can discuss :0).

 

I would highly recommend NOT using an LMS for this purpose, as well as some of their extensions –  synchronous testing environments where you do not own and control the client machines is like invading Russia in the winter…a generally a bad idea from the start. It can be done, at great peril and expense, but, there are superior solutions a much lesser cost in terms of $$ and personnel.

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Scott Helf, DO, MSIT

Chief Technology Officer-COMP

Director, Academic Informatics

Assistant Professor

 

Department of Academic Informatics

Office of Academic Affairs

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific

Western University of Health Sciences

309 East 2nd Street

Pomona, CA  91766

 

909-781-4353

shelf@westernu.edu

 

www.westernu.edu

 

-sch

 

 

From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Ron Walczak
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 5:24 AM
To: CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [CIO] Large Group Online Testing via Wifi

 

Scott,

It’s all about physics

The concurrent load on any channel (driven by the number of clients and the information being transmitted/received) will determine end user satisfaction.  Most manufacturers suggest no more than 20-25 concurrent sessions per AP.  But this of course assumes they are “typical” users.  If your students are truly uploading a file that is already complete – it will eventually get through and the lag won’t be too much of an issue.  My concern would be any real time applications where delays would create problems (waiting for a video to queue or even an answer to “register”).

 

Since “2.4 Ghz g” only provides three non interfering channels – it is all but useless in an open room with 250 students.  Co-Channel interference will wreak havoc. 

 

If you force associations to the “5.8 Ghz a” band, you immediately increase the channel count to 20. If you go with 40Mhz “5.8 Ghz n” channels you still have 9.  250/9=27 connections per AP.  If the connections are “n” (300Mbps) 27 connections should be fine for just about any use.  But remember, one “g” client in either band associating with an AP makes it a “g” AP for everyone when it is communicating with the “g” client.  You can set minimum connection speeds to help guard against a slow client connection ruining everyone’s day.

 

The best analogy I have come up with is to consider what cellular carriers are doing to meet demand – they are creating smaller cells with lower power to concentrate users to specific connection points.  The closer you are to a cell connection, the less power is consumed.  And my creating micro cells that are hard wired back to the network, smaller groups share more bandwidth.  Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are a key to this strategy.  The same is true with 802.11.  More APS at lower power means fewer associations to any single access point.

 

Message from luke.fernandez@gmail.com

We've found that high stakes online testing tends to be the "canary in the mine." Meaning that it's usually these users who are the first to complain when there are instabilities in your I.T. infrastructure. If your Banner report stops working or you can't get to the LMS to download some reading that's an inconvenience. But it doesn't hurt as much compared to trying to take a final and you can't proceed to the next question because the network or your high stakes testing system is having hiccups. So it's an area that on our campus anyway has been invested in heavily. Right now for example on the first day of finals we're running, as I type this, just under 500 tests concurrently. And it will stay at about that level until about 9 tonight when the high stakes testing centers close (we have 8+ of them open during finals). I agree with Scott that your typical LMS quizzing tool isn't going to cater very well to high volume high stakes testing -- it's nice to have asynchronous submission mechanisms, a reservation system that can help student locate times/places to test, a check in system and some advanced browser kiosking among other things to make operations like this run smoothly. One place to find out more about different solutions (we use something other than ExamSoft) is to visit the annual NCTA conference (cf. http://www.ncta-testing.org ). Luke http://itintheuniversity.blogspot.com

Hi Ross,

 

Over time, our learning support center has come to the conclusion that exams and Wi-Fi, or cell radio for that matter,  don’t really mix well!  Yes , believe or not there are students who are  attempting to take their tests on their mobile phones.

As a result, we instruct our students against using Wi-Fi or any cell radio devices to take tests.   In fact, we encourage our faculty to consider including that in their syllabi if they administering online tests.  

 

We also strongly advise our students against relying  on battery-powered  devices during a test.  

 

Both of these are proving to make everybody’s lives easier so I am guessing doing what you are indicating will probably have the opposite effect!

 

Hossein Shahrokhi

CIO

UH-Downtown

 

My sample size is small, but I believe that many law schools use ExamSoft or similar systems for tests administered at the end of the semester, i.e., finals. It’s not acceptable in this day and age for students to hand write answers in a blue book. And the profs don’t want to deal with the scribble.

Medical schools also use the same technology for their high stakes testing.

A potential negative, and perhaps a big one, is cost. Also the logistics involved in getting hundreds and hundreds of student laptops loaded with the software and the test materials could be a show stopper. Law school and medical school classes are generally small.

My gut feeling is that WiFi is a risky approach. Lots of things that could go wrong including bandwidth saturation if any of the student computers are running network intensive apps, knowingly or not. I sure wouldn’t try to make it work for the current semester. Research and experiment oner the summer and run some tests on smaller tests before using the system for finals.

Good Luck.

Bob Paver

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.

- Henry David Thoreau -

On Apr 16, 2012, at 1:55 PM, Scott Helf wrote:

Just a quick thought and what we are rolling this year at COMP:
 
Have you considered ExamSoft? Their approach is different, in that the exam is pre-loaded and encrypted on the students’ computers, and, submission of the test is asynchronous.
 
This takes the load off of the WiFi and network, in a sense, as well as provides a “backup” of the students’ responses, encrypted, on their computer. They can even upload their exam from off of the network / outside the exam time (after the exam, when they get home, etc. –but, the neat thing is that the exam is “time locked”; clever!).
 
We surveyed other schools using this solution, and, largely, they appear quite happy. We also surveyed a few hacker / security sites, and the consensus it is far easier to study for the exam than to the constantly try and “break” ExamSoft…unlike one solution we had written permission from the company to, and successfully, broke…
 
For high stakes exams, it seems ExamSoft may be the way to go. For “instant” feedback, “clickers” are likely still the best bet (as well as hashtags and Twitter for text responses).
 
Hope this helps the discussion.
 
Sincerely,
 
Scott Helf, DO, MSIT
Chief Technology Officer-COMP
Director, Academic Informatics
Assistant Professor
 
Department of Academic Informatics
Office of Academic Affairs
College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific
Western University of Health Sciences
309 East 2nd Street
Pomona, CA  91766
 
909-781-4353
 
 
-sch
 
 
 
From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Greg Smith
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 10:28 AM
To: CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [CIO] Large Group Online Testing via Wifi
 

Ross:

I think what Ron was talking about is the type of Wireless NAC control provided by Cisco or Aruba. You can steer all of your N devices to 5 GHz and let the 2.4 GHz take care of your 802.11g devices. We have found that 90% of our student devices are able to steer toward the higher bandwidth so you may be surprised to find that you can cover it with 2 maybe 3 APs.

Greg Smith
Chief Information Officer
George Fox University
------------------------------
Be Known at Oregon's Nationally Recognized Christian University

Message from shelf@westernu.edu

My apologies in advance for perseverating this issue :):

 

The discussion, really, should move away from WiFi, if one is using an asynchronous download the exam days before, and upload your answers within a few hours of taking the exam, using whatever connection to the Internet possible (school WiFi, wired, Starbucks, dorm room, 4G, 3G, etc.), approach.

 

The connection does not matter (we assume/hope/pray), because the students are downloading the encrypted exam beforehand, taking the exam, when it becomes available--offline, and submitting their answers, potentially if there is a connectivity issue, hours after the exam ends.

 

Disclaimer: While we’ve been assured by other med schools this works great, with some minor roll out gotchas, we are rolling it out this semester, Fall 2012. Fingers and toes crossed and we will let you know how it goes.

 

Re. Class size: We will be testing approximately as many as 400 students in So. CA, and 200 in Lebanon, OR (600 or more total) about 1,000 mi. away. We also do not issue the laptops, but spec them, and nearly half the students will use Macs on OS 10, although WesternU’s policy is that that operating system is not supported.

 

Did I mention fingers and toes crossed?! ;0)  What could possibly go wrong? ;-P

 

Sincerely,

 

Scott Helf, DO, MSIT

Chief Technology Officer-COMP

Director, Academic Informatics

Assistant Professor

 

Department of Academic Informatics

Office of Academic Affairs

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific

Western University of Health Sciences

309 East 2nd Street

Pomona, CA  91766

 

909-781-4353

shelf@westernu.edu

 

www.westernu.edu

 

-sch

 

From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Bob Paver
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 3:36 PM
To: CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [CIO] Large Group Online Testing via Wifi

 

My sample size is small, but I believe that many law schools use ExamSoft or similar systems for tests administered at the end of the semester, i.e., finals. It’s not acceptable in this day and age for students to hand write answers in a blue book. And the profs don’t want to deal with the scribble.

 

Medical schools also use the same technology for their high stakes testing.

 

A potential negative, and perhaps a big one, is cost. Also the logistics involved in getting hundreds and hundreds of student laptops loaded with the software and the test materials could be a show stopper. Law school and medical school classes are generally small.

 

My gut feeling is that WiFi is a risky approach. Lots of things that could go wrong including bandwidth saturation if any of the student computers are running network intensive apps, knowingly or not. I sure wouldn’t try to make it work for the current semester. Research and experiment oner the summer and run some tests on smaller tests before using the system for finals.

 

Good Luck.

 

Bob Paver

 

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.

 

- Henry David Thoreau -

 

On Apr 16, 2012, at 1:55 PM, Scott Helf wrote:



Just a quick thought and what we are rolling this year at COMP:

 

Have you considered ExamSoft? Their approach is different, in that the exam is pre-loaded and encrypted on the students’ computers, and, submission of the test is asynchronous.

 

This takes the load off of the WiFi and network, in a sense, as well as provides a “backup” of the students’ responses, encrypted, on their computer. They can even upload their exam from off of the network / outside the exam time (after the exam, when they get home, etc. –but, the neat thing is that the exam is “time locked”; clever!).

 

We surveyed other schools using this solution, and, largely, they appear quite happy. We also surveyed a few hacker / security sites, and the consensus it is far easier to study for the exam than to the constantly try and “break” ExamSoft…unlike one solution we had written permission from the company to, and successfully, broke…

 

For high stakes exams, it seems ExamSoft may be the way to go. For “instant” feedback, “clickers” are likely still the best bet (as well as hashtags and Twitter for text responses).

 

Hope this helps the discussion.

 

Sincerely,

 

Scott Helf, DO, MSIT

Chief Technology Officer-COMP

Director, Academic Informatics

Assistant Professor

 

Department of Academic Informatics

Office of Academic Affairs

College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific

Western University of Health Sciences

309 East 2nd Street

Pomona, CA  91766

 

909-781-4353

 

 

-sch

 

 

 

From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Greg Smith
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 10:28 AM
To: CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [CIO] Large Group Online Testing via Wifi

 

Ross:

I think what Ron was talking about is the type of Wireless NAC control provided by Cisco or Aruba. You can steer all of your N devices to 5 GHz and let the 2.4 GHz take care of your 802.11g devices. We have found that 90% of our student devices are able to steer toward the higher bandwidth so you may be surprised to find that you can cover it with 2 maybe 3 APs.

Greg Smith
Chief Information Officer
George Fox University
------------------------------
Be Known at Oregon's Nationally Recognized Christian University


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Leadership and Management Programs

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Explore EDUCAUSE professional development opportunities that match your career aspirations and desired level of time investment through our interactive online guide.

 

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EDUCAUSE organizes its efforts around three IT Focus Areas

 

 

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2014 Strategic Priorities

  • Building the Profession
  • IT as a Game Changer
  • Foundations


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Uncommon Thinking for the Common Good™

EDUCAUSE is the foremost community of higher education IT leaders and professionals.