Dhaka University develops new online exam system amid COVID-19 closures
"To overcome this crisis in this unprecedented time, the country's top university Dhaka University has developed a new online exam system."
Bangladesh has been closing educational institutions after detecting the first COVID-19 case in March last year, which extended the school day for students thus deferring their participation in the labour market, especially for the university students.
To overcome this crisis in this unprecedented time, the country's top university Dhaka University has developed a new online exam system. With its help, students don't have to come physically to the university, but can still complete the semesters.
Students, faculty, and staff of the Department of Development Studies at Dhaka University, headed by Chairman Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, professor of economics, have been resolved to overcome the challenges posed by the extraordinary circumstances.
"We collectively designed a roadmap to recovery," said the professor as his department recently conducted the first online exam for students since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The department transformed a conference room into a technically equipped control room for managing, conducting, and invigilating exams.
The members of the Exam Committees, Invigilation, and Technical Facilitation Committee were on standby to help students solve any technical issues arising in the process, said the professor.
During the exam, the students can speak out via zoom, he said, adding that once the internet was disrupted, they could immediately call dedicated helplines.
"After the exam today (July 13), we asked for feedback to improve our system. It is our shared spirit and determination that ignites the pace of our efforts in facilitating the academic growth of our students," said the chairman.
"This is a new experience for all of us, students, faculty, and staff members. We are learning by doing, taking small, but firm, steps in pursuit of acclimatizing to the new normal."
He said the combined efforts have led to an adoption of a new academic calendar for all programs, enabling students of the department to successfully complete their academic life, after a backdrop of about 15 to 16 months.
"What is now in operation is a result of the commitment that we must recover from the missed academic days within this year. This is also about collaboration between students, between students and faculty members, between students and staff members. A 360-degree collaborative effort for collective actions."
The professor said they completed training sessions on the online semester final exam with the students divided into different batches.
"The respective examinations committees and batch coordinators have also conducted mock tests. We sent handy, easy-to-grasp written and visual manuals, as well as frequently asked questions responses," he said.
Rajibul Hasan, a student of MDS (Master of Development Studies), said taking an online exam was a different experience.
"The arrangement was good, well-managed, and there was only technical disruption on my side (net connection). Overall, it was all good."
Another student Hussain Ahmed said it was a nice experience with the introduction of a new exam system. "I appreciate the initiatives and am grateful to all."
M Abu Yusuf, professor of Development Studies, said for the past 15 to 16 months, they have conducted online classes without having the exams.
"We prepared the road to recovery because there is no alternative now. We have to prepare ourselves with the offline and online and all the batch coordinators in our department prepared road to recovery. And whatever the 15 or 16 months backlogs we are having, we need to overcome this," he said.
On Saturday, three batches of students, around 120 participants, were sitting for the exam, said the professor.
Salina Sddiqua, assistant professor and also a student advisor, said "For the future of our students, we thought about it and the whole department worked together, with the resolve that, we have to do it. And finally, we did it."
Echoing a similar view, Fahmida Sultana, the department's associate professor, and a program coordinator said at the very beginning, students were very much tensed and worried.
But after taking the mock tests and attending workshops, they were very happy and they were confident to sit for online examinations.
"Today is the very first (exam) day, and another three exams to go. And we will finish by 19th of this month for this batch, hopefully," she said Tuesday, the first day of the online exam, while her colleagues were busy looking after related issues.
Abul Bashar Mohammed Farooq, assistant professor at the department and a member of the technical facilitation committee, said, "This is the first time we are actually conducting online semester final exam in our department and probably in our Faculty of Social Sciences. We don't know how long this unpredictable situation will continue. So this will help the students to continue their academic activities throughout this pandemic scenario, and they will not lose any of their academic life because of this pandemic."
Professor Titumir has expressed his keenness to share their knowledge, technological know-how with higher education institutions in the world, especially those from the least developed countries as a part of South-South cooperation.
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