With the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the pen and paper mode of examination has been replaced by open-book examinations via online mode. But, is this transition worth the time and tension attributed by the students towards it?
One cannot deny the concatenations of changes that the world had to witness in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From sacrificing junk food from our favourite cafeterias and savouring our dried up taste buds with lost but not forgotten home cooked food to attending formal meetings over zoom with an ironed shirt above and wrinkled pajamas below. All aspects of life; be it economic or mental was affected by the pandemic and so was the field of education. The closing down of public institutions such as schools, colleges to stop the outspread of the COVID-19 virus meant a full stop to education.
However, the full stop was erased and education continued with the aid of online classes over various platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, etcetera. The inception of online classes paved the path for the teaching and student community to ponder upon the conduction of exams. How will the exams be held? If held, will the usual pen-paper mode be applicable? If no, then what other alternative can be used? Thus after much thought and colloquy, the alternative of open book exams through online mode was adopted by many universities across the country.
“My mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. And then OBE happened…. and now I’m sitting here with my 8.5 CGPA looking at those 9 web page tabs where I looked for content (reference) and can’t recollect much. Trust me, shrimp was better, I miss you Bubba.” – Mikhil Wang, Hindu College, Delhi University with a ‘Forrest Gump’ reference.
My bitter relationship with Open-Book Examination started way back in Class 9 when we were supposed to solve 10 marks in the format of Open-Book Assessment. Thank the lords and CBSE for dismantling the above concept (maybe they read my mind and acknowledged how unfruitful the entire concept was) Fast forward to 2021, here I am impatiently and nervously anxious to appear for my first university level examination but unfortunately via open-book examination process and worse through online mode.
First things first, open-book examinations hold no meaning to test a student’s understanding capabilities if the questions are not analytical in nature and being. Direct questions possessing the requirements of merely copy-pasting from the prescribed books does not lead to a holistic development of intellect and an individual at the end. Resources, time and patience; all for jotting down from the books without understanding the concepts. Is it worth it?
Is it fruitful to move forward in academic ventures without even knowing what was taught in the previous years? The fact that the pen and paper mode is what has resulted in the development of rot learning in the education system is accepted. But, at least an effort was made by the student community to know what the concepts are and what they behold. This is completely absent in the OBE mode or better say, Out of Brain Examinations.
Thirdly, what are the answer sheets marked for in this mode of examination? Only Edward Cullen can enlighten us whether the marks in such examinations are deducted for plagiarism or the required length of answers. On another perspective if no marks are deducted from anyone, does it mean everyone tops? I wish I had the points to answer such questions.
Last but not the least, the technical aspects required for appearing in an online OBEs is what worries every student the most. The academic progressions of a student lies in a privilege that is not accessible to all the students; internet connections. Unavailability and fluctuations in internet services while downloading question papers or uploading answer sheets is every student’s worst nightmare.
I am clueless about how to prepare and what to prepare. Online classes have been quite unfavorable for me with unstable internet connections most of the time. It seems we are appearing for the OBEs by giving our time and resources just as a formal procedure to get into the next semester and not to assess our growth.
Shubhamitra Baruah, 1st year student
This is a personal rant. Differences in thought and agreements is what has led to growth of individuals, both literally and philosophically. Till then, let me still be confused and crib about the existence of OBEs.