Don't be afraid of online exams: what students need to know now

Books and a computer
The examination phase started this semester almost entirely with online exams. Yulia Dolganova and Anja Solf-Hofbauer from the university's e-learning team give tips on how to complete the digital exams.

No impatient waiting in front of the exam room, no one excited sitting next to you and no bright lecture hall lighting. Instead, students take the exam regardless of location at their desk and on their usual laptop - what opportunities do online exams offer?

workstations Neue MensaAnja Solf-Hofbauer, E-Learning Coordinator at the Office of the Vice-Rector for Structural Development: In terms of content, the digital formats do not necessarily differ from a face-to-face examination. Those who have prepared well can also pass the online exam. Despite the unfamiliar situation and the concern about technical feasibility, students can benefit from taking their exams on their home PC. After all, they can set

up their own home office the way they want - unauthorized aids excluded - and concentrate fully on the exam.

My tip: Create a trouble-free working atmosphere, activate the "Please do not disturb mode" on your smartphone and learn from the experiences of your first test exams. If you don't have a good enough internet connection at home, you can use the workstations in the Neue Mensa with your device.

Yulia Dolganova, E-Learning project assistant at the media center: Also test the technology and run through the process several times! Check your hardware (preferably a PC or laptop), ensure a stable internet connection and familiarize yourself with the web conference system BigBlueButton (BBB) and the exam platform OPAL Exam TUBAF. Find the right virtual exam room, which is linked to the respective e-exam course and BBB room for exam supervisors and can be seen in the exam schedule. A test exam is also offered in each course, during which students can get to know the new formats and platforms. Also take a look at our instructions for conducting online exams.

Online exam, pdf upload and oral exam via video conference. How do the different formats differ in terms of preparation and implementation?

Anja Solf-Hofbauer:  Oral exams in digital format come very close to their face-to-face version. This format was often used even before the pandemic, for example, to connect examiners from any location.

The possibility of downloading a pdf with the exam questions is also often used. In this case, the students download the exam tasks on the OPAL Exam TUBAF exam platform in the respective exam course at a certain time and process them on paper or sometimes on a laptop, as with a face-to-face exam. After the allotted time, the participants take photos or scan their sheets, upload the files or, in an emergency, send them to the examiners by email. Accepted formats are pdf and jpg, which can be created with simple tools. You will receive a notification as soon as the upload was successful. It is advisable to find out what volume of data can come together for each smartphone type when taking photos. In principle, every student has a 100 MB upload volume available. Instructions for participation in digital exams can be found by students directly on the examination platform.

Yulia Dolganova: Pure online exams are carried out on the platform with ONYX tests and with online examination supervision. Activate your camera so that the supervisor can provide you with the best possible care during the exam. This can be the integrated webcam of your laptop or the smartphone camera. Students should have their student ID ready when entering the virtual examination room to verify their identity. Identity verification and online exam supervision also take place for the other online exams.

What do I do if I have technical difficulties during the online exam?

Yulia Dolganova: The first online exam week showed that the technical prerequisites at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg are good and that there are seldom problems with the new formats. So far, no complete online exam has to be canceled.
Should there be problems with the internet connection or the camera, stay calm and contact the examiners or the examination supervisor immediately (via the chat function in BBB, by email or by phone)! If possible, technical problems will be resolved quickly, you will be given tips on how to solve them, or the examiners will ensure that you do not suffer any disadvantages from the interruption.

Anja Solf-Hofbauer: If you have any concerns or special needs in advance of the exam, please discuss them with your supervisors. For example, because you are entitled to compensation for disadvantages or if you are taking the exam from a different time zone.