To reduce malpractice, the University of Mumbai (MU) has decided to make the process of assessing answer sheets completely digital. From April, assessment for all examinations will follow the ‘on-screen assessment’ format, which will enable examiners to make the assessments on a computer screen without having access to the actual answer sheets.
This means almost 19.5 lakh answer booklets will be scanned and then assessed by teachers on computers, completely doing away with the pen-and-paper format of checking answer sheets.
“We have been planning to bring about this change for the past one year. While the infrastructure is in place, we only need to change the mindset of teachers who will eventually have to change their routine work format,” said Sanjay Deshmukh, vice chancellor, MU.
Deshmukh added that, in place of stacks of answer sheets which were otherwise a common sight at the examination house during assessment season, computers will be placed on every table of the assessment halls in the new examination house building, which is currently under construction. “The new building will be equipped with the best of technology and amenities and examination halls will have hordes of computers which will be used by teachers to assess the scanned copies of answer sheets,” he said.
This process of scanning answer sheets, at present, is only applicable to the engineering section. In the present system, answer booklets are first scanned at the exam center and then the scanned sheets are available for examiners to assess on computer, with the help of passwords shared with them. MU now hopes to replicate the same process for all courses from April 2017. Apart from orientation for teachers, the university also plans to hold workshops for the teachers who will have to assess papers as per the on-screen format this year onwards.
While the university is very hopeful that this change will bring about better governance and accountability in the system, college principals and other experts have their doubts. Many have asked whether the university has the infrastructure to conduct assessment at such a large scale, and whether the same can be done as per the new system. “All this is being implemented under the assumption that the new examination will be ready to use in the next three months, and be able to accommodate hundreds of examiners with one computer each,” said the principal of a suburban college, on condition of anonymity.