As I’ve mentioned before, I was dreading mid-terms because it would break my paperless streak. I ended up breaking my paperless streak before midterms anyway, but I still wasn’t looking forward to the reams of paper I would not only have to photocopy but, more important, lug various places. A colleague and I were discussing this and she reported that she in fact was going to use the computer for mid-terms, that she would email the LanSchool file to each proctor and have them turn the internet off (mentioning, rightly so, that the no internet was less about cheating and more about distraction). So with her as a model, I decided to try it out myself (thanks, EU).

Here’s what I did:

  • I only did it with one class. It was the only exam I was giving during the Tuesday morning slot, so I could manage it that way.
  • I decided against emailing the LanSchool file to the proctor. Partly because it was short notice, and partly because, with LanSchool, I could (and would rather) monitor them myself.
  • The Friday before exams in class, I checked LanSchool. The people that needed to restart, restarted until everyone was showing up.
  • I had already photocopied the exam, so no saving paper here, and the exam itself wasn’t on ItsLearning, but they submitted it on ItsLearning.
  • The morning of, I rechecked LanSchool (everything was fine) and, because I had photocopied the exam, I gave the option of doing it either on paper or on the computer. All elected to do it on the computer.
  • With another class, I ended up giving them the option of using the computer. I hadn’t necessarily checked this class on LanSchool but felt secure enough with it. The ones that used the computer, very much appreciated having the option (and many of those that didn’t hadn’t brought their computer to school because they didn’t think they would be able to use it).

Here are some thoughts in retrospect. These are not necessarily concerns (though some will sound as if they are) but just things I realized doing it for the first time.

  • The internet probably didn’t need to be disabled. Distraction I don’t think would have been an issue.
  • As for cheating, I’d be more concerned about them having a review sheet on their computer than using the internet to cheat.
  • The exam, at least to some extent, is more public than on paper. On paper, I collect it, then distribute it to go over, then collect it again. On the computer, at least a copy of the answers is available both through their own file and my corrected / graded file that I will upload. Even multiple choice, which I will do for finals on ItsLearning after this, while it can me deactivated, still through screen shots can be preserved in a way that a paper exam cannot.
  • The grading is much easier on the computer. I much prefer it (but I prefer all grading on the computer).
  • Out tech person told EU that she has them do it in TextEdit, which has some properties that make it more secure than Word (she also then blocks Word for the review sheet concern). I’ll have to look into this.

That’s about it. A success. So thanks, EU, for pushing me to do it, and I’ll do more of it during finals.