BANGALORE: It was not a usual exam for final-year business management students at Mount Carmel College (MCC). Their two-hour-long internal examination on Tuesday had no physical question papers or answer scripts.
For the first time, MCC experimented with the concept of a paperless examination. Digital pads were given to students on which they wrote their answers. The device, known as ExamPad, is a patent-pending innovation of Chennai-based startup Littlemore Innovation Labs.
“A total of 120 students took the exam in international human resource management, financial markets and services and product and brand management subjects. The exam was part of our continuous internal assessment and the experiment of doing away with papers to use the digital pads was a success. Students’ feedback is very positive,” said S Rajkumar, Associate Professor in the Department of Business Management at MCC.
The ExamPad, which has been designed exclusively for examination purposes, has a 11-inch screen on which students can write their answers with a stylus. It is connected to a secure WiFi network and the device automatically freezes when the time is up. “We believe this system can do away with malpractices. The answers are stored on a cloud that we can access securely,” Rajkumar added.
With this, MCC became the second institution in Karnataka to experiment with paperless examinations. The first was the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIIT-B) in Electronics City, which used the same device.
Priyanka Raghuram, a final-year student specialising in marketing, felt it was easier and neater to write her answers on the ExamPad. “We didn’t have to scratch wrong words, use erasers or whiteners. I also liked the feel. The matte finish screen felt just like paper. Resting my hand on the screen was not a hindrance as it works only when touched with a stylus,” she said.
The only glitch, she observed, was the size of the screen. “I felt uneasy because I had to scroll up each time to see what I had written previously, especially while writing long answers. It would help if the screen size is slightly bigger.” The pad also allows students to turn on ruler lines if they are used to writing on such sheets, she said. The ExamPad runs on a custom operating system that is engineered for high level of security and reliability for examinations, said Srikanth Ganesan, co-founder and CEO of the four-year old startup. “During the exam, the device is not connected to the internet, so it is protected from any hacking,” he told Express.
The first university to implement the ExamPad in the country was the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. “It took three years to build the product. We have already done about 12,000 exams and close to three lakh answer scripts have been evaluated,” Ganesan said.
The company plans to launch a commercial version of the device next year that will be available for students through their respective institutions. “The second version of the device will also come with features that will help students take notes in class. Each student can own the device, or it can be passed on to their juniors when they graduate. This is the plan,” Ganesan said, adding that the company has not yet fixed a price for the device.
With this new system, MCC plans to introduce paperless digital exams in a phased manner across all batches of students over a period of time.