(This article is one of two in a package. The other is “Arab Universities Struggle With Final Exams and Reopening Decisions.”)
With higher education forced online following the closing of virtually all campuses to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, educators across the Arab region have been grappling with a new challenge—how to determine what students have learned.
The first impulse of many instructors was to administer online the exams they would have given in the classroom. After all, many faculty members are used to basing their students’ grades, to a greater or lesser degree, on their performance on such traditional exams.
But instructors quickly found that there were problems with this idea, one of the main ones being the risk of cheating. “Distance education has not been widely accredited in this region, mainly because of authentication issues,” says Senthil Nathan, managing director and co-founder of Edu Alliance Ltd, an education consulting firm based in Abu Dhabi.
“You could get your brother or another person to take test.”
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But there are a growing number of technologies being developed to verify the identity of the person taking a test online. According to Nathan, these include image, voice and iris recognition techniques.
A ‘Gold Rush’ for Test Technologies
Dominik L. Michels, a professor of computer sciences and mathematics at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a graduate level institution in Saudi Arabia known as KAUST, points to another strategy. He says researchers are developing applications using artificial intelligence to check whether the keystrokes of a person taking a test match those previously recorded for the student in question.