What kind of solution did you come up with?
“We knew that the students would have to sit the exam online. Fortunately, my colleague came up with the idea of using an application called Proctor. This app films students whilst they are sitting an exam so you can watch in real time and check whether a student is consulting a book or cheating. We’d never worked with the app before so it was quite an experiment.”
Isn’t that rather risky when it comes to exams?
“Yes, it was! Which is why we told the students: Monday morning will be a bit of an experiment and things may not work out, but at least you’ll have the opportunity to sit your exam. And if it does work, we can continue using it. But we didn’t run into any problems, so we’ll be using it more often this week.”
If you have two hundred students sitting a two-hour exam, you end up with four hundred hours’ worth of footage. Does that mean having to watch all those recordings to check whether someone has cheated? And then do that 22 times?
“We were initially worried about that, but luckily that’s not how it works. I thought it would be terribly boring. Basically, we don’t watch our students in real time. The software company reviews the footage afterwards and then we’ll get a message saying, ‘Student no. 13 is doing something ten minutes into the video that looks like he might be cheating.’ So we check it out.”
What if students don’t have the right equipment for a live connection?
“We’re prepared for that possibility. If students really don’t want to sit an online exam or don’t have a proper laptop or anything, they’re welcome to sit the exam here in the EUC building in exceptional cases. We discussed that with the Executive Board. As long as there are fewer than six students and they all keep their distance from each other, it’s not a problem. We had two students show up for Monday morning’s exam.”
What’s the vibe like at the EUC building in Nieuwemarkt right now?
“It’s very quiet. Students aren’t allowed to revise here anymore. The cafeteria and the library are closed. Most of my colleagues are working from home, except for a few, like myself. I have to be here because of the exams. It allows me to keep an eye on all the systems and to intervene if anything goes wrong. Starting from next week, I’ll be working from home a lot more myself. That’s when we’ll be doing more to set up a proper remote-teaching environment.”
You have two hundred first-year students. They all live together in one building at Stadhuisplein. How’s that going?
“Well, they mustn’t all get together, but they’re not doing that. We can tell they’re a bit stressed, but that’s not surprising. International students tend to be here without their parents, and many of them have parents who are pushing for them to come home. But you can’t even fly to some countries anymore. We try to check on how they’re doing. We’ve established some rules. They may have one visitor in their room, provided they keep their distance. And if any student starts developing symptoms, he or she may have to be isolated, but luckily that hasn’t happened yet.”