As the University of Delhi (DU) kickstarted Open Book Examinations mock test, students reported technical problems – registration obstacles, irrelevant question papers, among others.
The University of Delhi (DU) today opened the DU mock test windows for regular, School of Open Learning (SOL) and Non-Collegiate Women’s Education Board (NCWEB), students of both UG and PG programmes at their official website – du.ac.in and several students faced extreme issues. From the website crashing, inability to register and availability of wrong or no question papers; the first day of the five day mock test series did not go well.
On July 2, the varsity announced that the revised date sheet for its online Open Book Examinations (OBE) for terminal year students from July 10. It was also declared that mock exams will be held from July 4 to July 8, so that students can get used to the system of OBE, assess the network and infrastructure required for downloading question paper and uploading answer sheets.
But instead of allaying students’ fears and anxiety, the mock tests rather multiplied the panic among students and also the doubts over whether DU has the infrastructure to conduct online OBE.
Following is a detailed account of all the issues faced by the students today–
1. Inconsistent Slots
In DU’s official OBE guide, it was stated that mock tests will be held in three sessions – Morning, Lunch and Evening and students can appear for them as per their convenience. But some subjects had pre – determined slots and student had to wait till then to appear for the test.
2. Difficulty in registering/failure to log in
Numerous students complained about facing problems in logging in to the portal. Question papers were received hours after beginning of the exam by some. Even after receiving admit cards and filling the details correctly, the website displayed ‘Invalid details record not found.’ OTPs were not received and error messages came up on screen repeatedly. As a result, even after several attempts to log in, many could not take the mock test. Some even reported that the DU website crashed, especially during the evening session.
3. Wrong or missing question papers
Complaints against wrong or missing question papers for many courses were also reported. For B. Com. (H) third year students, for instance, question paper from fourth semester was uploaded. Political Science (H) students were given the question paper of B.A. Programme. Many subjects such as B.A. (H) Applied Psychology had no question papers for them and asked to upload blank sheets or write anything. Some question papers also comprised of questions from all three years rather than just the final semester. It is being argued that mock tests are just ‘indicative’ and specific question papers of every subject will not be uploaded. As quoted by The Quint; Vinay Gupta, Dean of Examinations, DU told them, “In the mock test, we have not linked students with any specific paper. Since there are around 8,000 papers, you can’t put each and every one of them for a mock test. As mentioned in the notice, these are indicative question papers, around 38 of which have been uploaded for the mock test.” As a response, doubts are being raised over the benefit of mock tests if it does not serve the interests of every student.
4. Compressing answer sheets
Another point of confusion for the students was the limit of 5 MB put on uploading answer sheets. For doing so, students have to compress their answer sheets which would require more time and internet.
5. Inability to upload answer sheets
DU had pointed out that the candidates won’t require very high speed internet for online OBE. Yet students claimed that they faced problems in uploading answer sheets, even with good Wi – fi connection. 24% of a third year Chemistry (H) class stated that they could not upload their mock OBE answer sheets as the link became inactive after 10.30 a.m. Some PWD students said that as opposed to five hours allotted for them as they downloaded the question paper the duration was displayed as from 07:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. instead of 12:30 p.m.
Frantically, the students reached out to their professors who were at a loss as well and in turn asked them to contact the examination officials but queries went unattended to. Consequently, #DUAgainstOnlineExams has again started trending on Twitter with screenshots of the glitches faced and experiences of the anguish being shared largely.
However, the Dean of Examinations Vinay Gupta denied these allegations as he spoke to other media outlets and said,
“More than 30,000 students have registered in the first slot. There may be some glitches but the point of holding these mocks was to smoothen them out. There may be an issue in one or two cases but otherwise, everything is in place.”
Even after a high rate of cases, he denied that the website crashed.
“When the exams are actually held, students will come to the portal in batches since exam timings are different. During mocks the load is much more and yet the website hasn’t crashed which says something about our preparedness,”added Vinay Gupta
While speaking to The Quint, he also claimed that OBEs for final – year students would be conducted from 10 July and the same should be treated “as final and not as tentative.”
Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) in a press release stated that today’s mock tests were a “mockery indeed.” Other than raising concerns about the issues mentioned earlier, DUTA called into question “why 15 papers were listed and what were they supposed to be.” The deviation from the normal pattern of question papers and no reliable contacts whom students can reach to in crisis were also brought into light. Additionally, the errors in the new date sheets and the nature and frequency of problems being faced by students was attributed to the varsity’s inefficiency and lack of preparedness. The DUTA, which has received hundreds of emails from panicked students, condemned University Grants Commission’s and Ministry of Human Resource Development’s lackluster attitude in releasing new guidelines and asked to scrap discriminatory OBE immediately and offer students the much needed relief. Further, some Academic Council and Executive Council members who are a part of the Academics for Action and Development (AAD) conveyed to DU VC the chaotic feedbacks they received from students regarding the mock tests. They too opined to cancel OBE stating that today’s mock test was a reflection of the impending disaster.
Further, DU Beat asked its followers to share their experiences of the first day of Mock Open Book Examinations, receiving overwhelming responses.
Despite opposition from teachers, students, and political groups, DU has decided to hold online open book exams for its final year students – roughly around 2.15 lakh in strength, according to officials. The myriad complaints that have been highlighted in lieu of today’s mock tests can no longer be termed as mere roadblocks but need to be addressed as serious issues that require calculated resolutions if online OBEs are to be conducted smoothly, keeping in mind the welfare of every DU student.
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