Delhi University’s Open Book Examinations have been deliberated upon since April and cancelled a total of 3 times. They were scheduled for third-year students and comprise our final semester grades, contributing to the total GPA.
On 11 August, I had my first ‘Open Book’ examination and I can say with full conviction that it was the most harrowing and stressful experience of my life. The examination didn’t have ‘critical thinking’ questions as planned by Delhi University and the questions were generic as expected, at least for my elective. One would expect that after multiple court cases, some of which are still on-going, the logistics of the examination would be worked out better, but alas, students were left disappointed and distressed.
Several Technical Glitches
The exam started at 11.30 am and was to go on till 3.30 pm. After writing the exam, it took me around 15-20 minutes to scan my paper and I started uploading the paper in the last 15 minutes of the examination. Due to an overload of traffic on the portal, my files refused to get uploaded. It kept showing me an ‘internal server error’, forcing me to reload the website multiple times.
The moment the clock struck 3:30 pm, sharp portal closed. I was unable to upload my answers. The sheer amount of fear and apprehension I faced in those last 10 minutes is unimaginable, because all said and done, these are my final semester marks.
Finally, I sent my answers to an alternate email address provided by Delhi University and received a confirmation. A lot of students faced similar problems and many have sent emails but not received confirmation. Students have got wrong question papers, server errors, and some have also been given two question papers at the same time.
Clearly, being prepared is not Delhi University’s forte!
This also begs the question – how are papers going to be segregated and corrected? Some of our papers could easily be missed out. There are no detailed guidelines or transparency as to how our answers are going to be evaluated. Will they be digitally assessed or will they be downloaded by the examiners?
I feel very uncertain about how these examinations are going to be graded and what the process is going to be like.
How Inclusive are OBEs?
Even after having the privilege of a steady internet connection, technological facilities and a quiet, comfortable environment to write the exam in, I encountered numerous difficulties.
I can’t imagine the plight of students who are prone to panic attacks or have anxiety disorder or those in Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal who don’t have stable internet connections due to various calamities and government restrictions.
Most importantly, these examinations are a bane for students who don’t have smartphones or other resources, without which writing these exams is going to be almost impossible.
Accessing common service centres is also a challenge, as most are not open amidst the pandemic. What about disabled students who don’t have a scribe to help them? They would further feel alienated by a system that often makes them feel dependent and excluded.
I lose the little bit of faith I have in a system that prioritises marks over students' emotional and mental well-being. At the end of the day, I don’t want to repeat this process, and I wish these exams get over as soon as possible because this process is definitely not worth the panic or the anxiety induced. Insensitive, lax, and callous is what I’d call Delhi University’s attitude towards students. These exams are nothing short of what you’d call a disaster.
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