Digitization of universities and colleges – Acer Chromebook makes e-exams possible in Germany

digitization germany universities female student acer chromebook 514

When studying is digital, why should exams be on paper? In response to that question, the first German universities are revisiting their approach to exams with more than 50 participants using the Acer Chromebook 514.

While ensuring security and compatibility with low technical effort might sound challenging on paper, the experiment proved very successful! Read on for details of the digitization strategy test in Germany.

What are e-exams?

Short for electronic exams, e-exams replace traditional one-to-one in-paper examinations. They typically take place in a PC room, making exam assessment seamless and time-saving. Advantages include the automatic correction of closed questions and improved speed, quality and objectivity in evaluation.

Moreover, e-exams also simplify the correction of partially open questions and provide better readability. Plus, the integration of media – such as photos or videos. In terms of organisation, e-exams can automatically assign different versions of the examinations to student groups and organise questions in pools.

Digitization & Acer Chromebooks: setup times for exam rooms

Hundreds of Acer Chromebook 514 devices with Wi-Fi 6, organized into Leba notebook carts of 32 devices each and a complete WLAN infrastructure including access points and server. This technical setup was the departure point of a large German university that tested the exam-digitization process over the past few months.

The university team transported the equipment by van to the respective examination rooms and set up a complete WLAN infrastructure. Setup time for each exam room took approximately 1.5 hours

Chromebooks boot up and connect to the internet in just a few seconds. After establishing a connection, a browser window giving access to the exam server appears. After logging in with their university access, students receive their exams, and the timer starts.

This solution uses managed Google Guest sessions which is essential for data protection. No Google log-in is needed.

Exam data is stored only on university servers via a locked, internal Wi-Fi 6 network – hence no personal data is transferred via the browser to Google and to the Google Cloud.

Moreover, devices are easily charged via the Leba notebook carts. The Chromebook’s 10-hour battery life is an excellent feature, allowing no interruption during long exams. 

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Successful digitization with simple administration

To create a defined environment, devices are configured so that students cannot access the Internet during a digital exam – providing a simple solution to a problem administrators have faced for over a decade. 

When the managed guest session is in kiosk mode, students can only use the learning application released by the administrator, so they cannot search answers online. 

With Chromebooks, the German University found the perfect solution: “For us, management has to be totally simple,” remarked its technical officer.

“Another difficulty in switching to digital exams, or electronic assessments, is getting the exam questions right” – as university experts well know. As university operations are generally contact-restricted or completely virtual, instructors have compiled huge question pools from which they simply “drag and drop” into exams. Currently, the ILIAS learning platform – an open-source solution for universities and schools – stores 1,500 e-exams!

Zero Touch Enrollment & the Chrome Education Upgrade

Thanks to Chrome Education Upgrade, digitization gets even easier with Acer Chromebook and Zero Touch Enrollment.

What is Zero Touch Enrollment? Above all, it’s easy! The administrator simply creates a token in the Admin Console with the configuration information. This is a one-time effort that’s identical for all devices. Then, The token is assigned to the devices via a serial number – a process that Acer Education Solution Centers take care of “behind the scenes” together with Acer as certified Google Pre-Provisioning Partners.

“It’s a matter of a few hours, and it minimizes the effort for the administrators at the customer’s site.”
Dirk Weltermann, Project Supervisor, Acer.

E-exams reception

The e-exams were well received by professors and students alike – both in-person and virtually on Acer Chromebooks. For lecturers, evaluation required significantly less effort. Even with text-based exams, they save a third of the time spent correcting handwritten papers. Plus, automated procedures such as multiple choice or additions provide further streamlining.

There are also new ways of testing. For instance, students can zoom in on X-ray images and even listen to assignments or explanations. Formative, summative, as well as diagnostic exams are easy to map. Clearly, the advantages of e-assessment are vast.

“Students feel the computers treat them fairly” – university officials noted. “They appreciate receiving results promptly and use the opportunity to practice on real exams in advance on the platform.” The cumulative result has been a positive development in grade averages. 

This expressly favourable outcome is likely to accelerate the university digitization of education significantly.

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