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Athabasca University

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the university decide what exams to move online first?

The Online Exam Project is migrating exams online in priority order. Priority is given to courses:

  • That are high enrolment
  • That are currently delivered on paper
  • That can be written using a standard keyboard

Lower priority exams include those currently delivered through AU’s original Online Exam System (Lotus Notes), lower enrolment courses, and exams that require specialized tools or keyboards.

Do exams go online when a course goes through a major revision?

The Online Exam Project is converting AU’s existing exam inventory as quickly as possible in order to improve student services and maximize savings. As a result, we are not waiting for courses to go through a revision before moving the exams online. That said, the project is coordinating with Centre for Learning Design and Development (CLDD) to move paper exams in new high-enrolment revisions on line as they come out of revision.

What will happen when my course’s exam becomes an online exam?

Each wave of courses moving to online exams gets assigned a go-live date. Prior to the go-live date, the Online Exam Project Coordinator works with the Course Coordinator to create and review the online exams. Information is then sent to all course tutors and course assistants regarding user training.

During the week prior to the go-live date, Centre for Learning Design and Development (CLDD) and the Online Exam Project will send information to your current students via a Moodle Course Announcement. If your course is not yet in Moodle, we will send the course coordinator and tutors an email to circulate to all students in the course. This announcement/email carefully communicates the process, dates and impact on students. To ensure consistency and accuracy regarding AU exam processes, please do not send other information to your students regarding the change to online exams.

Current students requesting an exam in the course after 9:00 a.m. on the go-live date will receive an online exam. As a marker, you will see your first marking alert arrive in your AU email 10 – 20 days after this (depending on how many exam request are made and when). Thus, over the months following your go-live date, you will gradually see a decrease in the paper exams that you mark for this course and a corresponding increase in online exams.

The course syllabus and course materials are updated so that all new registrants know that the course has online exams.

How will I get my username and password for the online exam system?

When your first online exam arrives for marking, your course assistant will ‘create’ you in the system at the same time that s/he assigns you to the exam.  As a result, your first exam will generate two emails that you will receive in your athabascau.ca email account: an account set-up email and the exam marking notification for that particular exam.

Can I print a copy of the exam and mark it on paper?

No. The system does not give markers the capacity to print the student's exam. The intention of migrating exams online is to have all stages of exam processing completed on a computer: scheduling, writing, marking. As a result, markers are trained and required to mark the exam on the computer and not on a printed version of the exam.

Can I send students comments on their online exams?

Yes. Within the online system, you can write a general exam comment to the student that will be sent via email with their exam grade. To learn where and how to write a general exam comment to the student, please refer to "How to Add Comments" on the staff training site.

Can I send students in-depth feedback on exam questions through the online system?

The online system currently allows markers to make one general comment to the student. This comment is emailed to the student along with the exam grade. Markers can decide how detailed and long this comment is. That said, to date the online exam system has been developed primarily as an assessment tool rather than a learning tool. If a marker would like to provided extensive feedback to students on a question-by-question basis, this would be handled better outside of the online exam system (e.g. in Moodle or via email).  

If you would like more information on marker commenting in the new online exam system, please refer to "How to Add Comments" on the staff training site.

The online exams system could be further developed as a learning tool. If a marker would like to explore ways of using the commenting functions within the system to provide in-depth student feedback on particular questions, please contact the Online Exam Project Coordinator to learn more about these in-development features.

Why do I sometimes get emailed comments from students about their exams?

Students can send a comment before they submit their exam. This comment will be delivered to you in several ways:

  1. By email
  2. On the system Welcome Page when you log in
  3. Attached to the first question in the exam

You should read the comment, and act on it as you deem appropriate (just as you would deal with a comment submitted to you by the student in the margin of their paper exam). In many cases, this will mean you do nothing. In some cases, you may adjust the mark or revise a question; in other cases, you may want to reply to the student.

If you choose to answer the comment, please do so OUTSIDE of the exam system by sending the student an email. You should not reply through the online exam system or the email alert you receive.

Note: AU Examination Services and the Online Exam Project Coordinator receive a copy of all student comments. If the comment is technical or process in nature, these areas will respond to it as appropriate.

What if I want to review an exam with a student?

If you marked the exam, you can simply call it up in the system in the same way you did when you originally marked it.

Note: To locate the exam, you will probably have to change the Hide Finished filter to Show (refer to the User Guide for Manual Marking).

If you did not mark the exam, you will need to request access to the exam from your course assistant. Once you have access, you can follow the steps outlined in the Online Automarked Exams User Guide. This guide will help you review an exam even if the exam is not automarked.

What if I want to revise an exam question in my online exam?

If you would like to make a minor change to a question in your exam, please send an email to the Online Exam Project Coordinator. In your email, please indicate the course, revision number, and exam version, as well as the nature of the change.

How do appeals work for online exams?

All standard AU appeals processes and policies apply to online exams. In the case of an online exam appeal, the course assistant will clear all marks and comments out of the online exam and assign a new marker. The new marker will receive an email alert and mark the exam online. Archives of the original and remarked exams will be kept on file at the academic unit according to FOIP requirements.

Is AU building question banks in this new online system?

Not yet. The MuchLearning pilot phase (2011 – 2012) had one course use a dynamic question bank. A dynamic question bank is one in which the system draws random questions from this bank, and creates a unique exam each time a student writes. A long-term goal of AU’s Exam Harmonization Project is to create dynamic exams at AU; however, there is further work that needs to be done before we can deliver dynamic exams through the system. In the meantime (the next 1 – 2 years), AU will be migrating static exams online.

What happens if a student tries to access a different website while writing an online exam?

If the student leaves the exam browser during the exam, the exam automatically locks. If the invigilator accepts that the lockout was an accident, he can immediately provide the student with a new code so that the student can continue the exam. If the student gets locked out more than once and/or the invigilator suspects cheating, the invigilator is obliged to follow protocol to investigate and report the incident.

Can a student request to write their online exam on paper?

Students who require exams in paper format as a result of permanent or temporary disabling condition must register with AU’s Access to Students with Disabilities unit (ASD) in order to be eligible to request exams in paper format.

Students not registered with ASD should contact the AU Examination Services. The AU Examination Services will correspond with the student directly and make a decision. Barring exceptional circumstances, the AU Examination Services expects students to write in the format that the exam is offered as outline on the course syllabus.

Can students take blank (scrap) paper to an online exam?

Yes. Students may take blank paper to their exam. The invigilator must inspect the paper before the exam, and collect and destroy it following the exam. This information is provided to the student in their online Student Manual.

What if a student needs to bring other materials to an online exam?

If a student is allowed to bring specific materials, such as a dictionary or formula sheet, this information is provided to the student in their Course Information and to the invigilator in specific exam instructions.

Is AU moving all its exams into the new online system?

AU estimates that 80 per cent of its exams will eventually be moved into its new Online Exam System. The remaining 20 per cent of exams will have technical or physical limitations that rule out an online delivery format.

Will AU always have two online exam systems?

No. Lotus Notes is a second online exam platform at AU. Lotus Notes, which has been used at AU for 12 years, will gradually be phased out over the next four years as these exams are migrated into the AU’s new Online Exam System. If you are writing an online exam in Lotus Notes and require information or support, please contact the Faculty of Business Student Support Centre.

What if a student experiences technical problems during an online exam?

All AU invigilators have received a training package on how to administer online exams, including how to address the most common technical problems. If an invigilator cannot resolve an issue they can call the AU Examination Services for support during business hours. Outside of business hours the invigilator has instructions on how to generate a print copy of the exam.

If a technical problem occurs in the middle of the exam, the online exam system will autosave a student's written answers every 30 seconds. Multiple choice questions are saved once the student clicks the Save button under each question. If technical problems occur halfway through the exam, the student can write the unfinished portion of the exam on paper and be assured that the answers they have previously submitted online will be recovered.

What if a student cannot find an invigilator who can deliver an online exam?

Students should review the Invigilators section of the AU Undergraduate Calendar. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the invigilation centre has a computer with an Internet connection and an accepted web browser available for use. Also, Athabasca University has entered into an agreement with ProctorU, which allows students the opportunity to write online exams at home. If neither of these is possible, the student should contact the AU Examination Services. A staff member will help with possible solutions.

How do online exams affect students registered with AU’s Access to Students with Disabilities (ASD)?

If you are a student with a permanent or temporary disabling condition who requires exam accommodations and are registered with ASD, you will remain eligible to receive the assessed exam accommodations.

How and when will a student get their online exam grade?

Students will receive an automatic email from the MuchLearning Online Exam System when the marker has finished marking the exam. The email will provide them their grade in percent format as well as any general exam comments the markers entered in the system.

For further information on marks and grades please refer to the AU Undergraduate Calendar.

When will my other course’s exams become online exams?

Refer to the list of courses on this website to find out when if your course is scheduled to move to online exams soon.

Updated June 15 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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