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Legal framework of online examinations

Here you will find information on legal framework conditions when conducting online exams.

Special regulations for exam operation during the Corona pandemic can be found here.

Conducting exams in digital form opens up opportunities, but also involves some points that should be taken into account. Here you will find a compilation of information on different online exam formats. You can find a complete overview here.


Didactic notes on digital examination formats

Didactical hints for the realization of Open Book examinations (online)

Open Book exams are written exams that are conducted without supervision. Aids are explicitly admitted, i.e. students have access to all available aids during the exam, e.g. course materials, literature, internet access. Collaboration with other staff, people is not allowed.

The Corona Regulations (in german) of Bielefeld University define Open Book examinations as examinations in the sense of the Examination rules, Subject-specific regulations and module descriptions (§ 2.5). Therefore, the processing times specified there apply (max. 4 hours). An extension of the processing or examination time is possible if the examination is taken online or mediated by electronic communication formats (§ 2.6). In deviation from regulations in Examination rules, electronic verification of the student's own authorship of the work can generally take place for these examinations/supervisory work and not only in justified individual cases.

Potentials and challenges of open book examinations:

Examinations with open questions and approved aids (open book examinations) are a form of examination with specific potentials and challenges.

  • Here, students can show that they are not only able to reproduce knowledge, but that they are familiar with a field of knowledge and are able to establish connections and to argue. In short: it is about so-called higher order thinking skills. Teaching staff receive feedback on whether challenging teaching and learning objectives (transfer, synthesis, assessment) have been met.
  • Challenging are the design and assessment of these types of exams. Good exam questions must be well thought out and formulated in a way that students can understand. In addition, answers to open-ended questions are often not as clearly assessable as other exam questions and require clarification of assessment criteria in advance.

More detailed information on the didactic implementation of open book exams can be found in this handout (in german).

Didactical hints for the realization of closed book examinations (online)

According to the Corona measures (in german) of Bielefeld University, current written examinations may be conducted online handwritten or in corresponding examination systems.

Here you can find more information and instructions for conducting closed book exams.

Didactic notes for the conduct of oral examinations (online)

In accordance with the Corona measures of Bielefeld University, oral examinations may currently be conducted digitally, using the appropriate software (Zoom).

The didactic considerations for an online oral examination are similar to those for an analogue examination. Some special features of the digital version are listed here:

Technical breakdowns when conducting a digital oral examination

The legal regulations give you leeway in deciding at what point an examination can no longer be conducted due to technical breakdowns or at what point there is reasonable suspicion of fraud. Think about how you want to deal with technical breakdowns. At what point is an examination no longer feasible for you or at what point are you able to form a grade despite the technically necessary abortion? Are your students also allowed to break off the examination if they have the impression that technical breakdowns are having an unfavourable influence on the history? For orientation, the following can apply:

  • In case of minor technical problems, continue the examination with a new question.
  • In the case of serious technical problems, cancel the exam.
  • If a student breaks off the exam without any visible technical breakdowns, the exam is considered failed.
  • If there is a suspicion of cheating, the exam can be cancelled.

Planning and preparing for an online oral exam

  • Clarify whether the students have the technical prerequisites to be able to hold an examination via video conference.
  • Determine an alternative communication channel (e-mail, telephone) through which communication will take place should the videoconference break down.
  • Inform students in detail in advance how the oral examination will be conducted and run. You can consider the following:
  • What should those to be examined prepare, what should be kept ready?
  • How the workplace and the room must be equipped for the examination
  • Students must have a student ID ready and a mirror or smartphone to show the monitor. It should be possible to use the room without disturbance for the duration of the examination. The door of the room should be visible in the picture, etc. It is also beneficial if the entire upper part of the body can be seen in the camera image, because this way the gestures can support the conversation. In addition, it would then also become visible when someone makes an input with the keyboard or on the smartphone. A preliminary discussion via Zoom is well suited so that the students can get used to the environment and Utilities Control Room.
  • Allow about 5 minutes more time for conducting the examination than would be necessary for the analogue examination, in order to be able to compensate for the technology check, explanations, but also an increased amount of time for testing. For oral examinations that have a project duration of 45 minutes, you may have to allow 10 minutes more time.
  • You may also need to clarify the course of the examination with a transcriber.
  • Make sure that the examined performance is comparable to the usual examination.
  • Send an invitation to the conference room to the examinee and the assessor in good time.

During the performance

  • Do a small technology check at the start date and discuss how you want to deal with breakdowns.
  • Document in the protocol (here is an example) the Utilities Control Room or programmes used, those present, breakdowns, resources used and other incidents.
  • Establish the identity of the students: hold the Uni-Card up to the camera.
  • Check the students' room for unauthorised aids and the presence of other staff, people (pan the camera around the room, take a photo of the monitor or hold a mirror up to the camera).
  • To be fair, you can also pan the camera into the room.
  • Have the camera of the person being examined aimed so that the closed door in the room is captured by the camera and the gestures can be seen (e.g. complete upper body).
  • For group exams, mute the microphone.
  • Find out if the person being examined feels able to take an exam.
  • For marking purposes, you can send the person being examined to the Zoom waiting room.

Here you can find further information on the technical conduct of oral examinations.


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