Since the shutting off of universities’ physical dimension, the digital quickly took over, and so has the not-so-fun part of the university life seeped into the consideration of the digital dimension; exams. Examining the structure by which exams could possibly be conducted, we find no limits but the revisiting of our morals, so should one care?
Jamia has kept its diverse bed of students on their toes, as they anticipate an exam schedule, perhaps another announcement, but they are received with a shocker of a news that the most probable destination of their anxiety is going to be their own place of comfort. After a sly move by the administration to neither include ‘online’ or ‘offline’ in their announcement of that the exams would be held from 15th December, they seem to finally be reaching a conclusion that the mode of examination is going to not be open-book or assignment-based as was in the previous semester this year, but proctored online exams.
Proctored online examination methods are varying, depending from one technology company to the other, but the base premise is the same; students have to sit in front of their laptops or phone, have the webcams open so that they can be monitored by the proctor for any use of “unfair” means during examination like mobile phones etc. The premise seems to be simple and straightforward, and that exactly is the problem, it applies human senses to a limited domain of varying internet speeds, picture quality and integrity of the student.
The only reason a student’s final redemption of any kind of mishap, of even revenge in some cases of any factor are exams is because there is an almost guarantee that the grades will be given according to the recall prowess of the student, their understanding of the subject and writing speed. All the “unfair” means are cut-off by the invigilator’s presence in the closed space. With the addition of the fear of rustication from the university or worse, the student doesn’t think about cheating as an option and cries or rejoices based on the preparation or frankly his/her bliss of ignorance.
This integrity will be tested to the absolute maximum if online exams are the way to go. For starters, the invigilator(s) are limited by design of the webcams to be able to only see a limited amount of the exam participant’s body to be able to catch movements and more so movements that are to be judged as cheating or ‘fair’. For those who aren’t privileged enough by the government to have a 4G connection, the disruption can take any side; termination on suspicion of cheating, failure to connect to the proctor, and/or use of this curse as a method to sneak in some ‘help’. From mobile phones, chits, help from family, screen recorders, voluntary or involuntary internet disruptions, the list is limitless because the exams’ standard of vigilance by design is very limited. It is also amusing to think if they have even considered the ever impending question in every exam that every invigilator has to answer, “may I go to the toilet”, where as before the bag full of notes was in the corner of the room, now it is located in every corner not visible to the invigilator. If they are to not allow toilet breaks, that could very well be considered as human cruelty, presupposing that the current human morals are objective then in any case that has to be allowed and if it isn’t objective, then cheating isn’t cheating but just a demonstration that the student is more efficient at accumulating information at a given moment.
Moreover, the online exams are more efficient, in their limited standard, to conduct MCQ-based examination rather than theory based such as the ones required for Humanities. Although it’s true that cheaters will cheat, but most students don’t not cheat because of their morals, but because the idea of cheating is either numb because of the conditioning that that can’t happen safely, or that they seriously fear the repercussions and bet on their guaranteed low marks than an end to their career.
Jamia administration seems to be choosing a sphere that is in no way of the same standard, and if they are to succumb to that low standard of examination then so will be the low standard of integrity of the students, unless by some miracle classmates trust each other to not cheat. The administration seems to be testing the limits of morals that have rarely ever worked without the hand-of-doom of the high probability of being caught. This, from a probabilistic perspective is a preposterous decision by the administration that not a single soul is obliged by design to trust that their mates will suffer consequences just as they would if they cheated, because the system can’t possibly be trusted as offline exams were, to be able to suffer in peace as they grab the question paper; the only obligated bewildering thought is to cheat or not to cheat.
Raafat Gilani is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Varda Ahmad
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.