And Y’all Thought New Math Was A Pain

, , , , , | Learning | November 11, 2020

Back in March 2020, New Zealand went into its first lockdown. The university had to very quickly take courses that had been taught fully in person with few resources other than lectures and transition them into something that could be provided online, and for the most part, they did a great job under that extreme pressure.

But the rapid transition caused some fun quirks in the system.

We came to the first big exam of one of the most academically challenging courses of the whole degree.

The questions were all in multi-choice format so it could be all marked by computer. And because it was marked by computer, as soon as you finished the exam and your two-hour timer ran out, it immediately automatically showed you your mark, and you could look through the correct answers and see what you did wrong.

Only there was one small problem.

As with paper exams, online exams are set up so you can mark questions you’re unsure of and move on, coming back to them later, so you can manage your exam time by answering the easy things first.

But there had been a glitch.

The back button between the different pages of the exam, for some inexplicable reason, did not work. Once you moved on to the next questions, there was no going back to change or even check what you had answered.

The lecturers were obviously inundated with frantic emails from students.

Student #1: “I wanted to check my answers before I submitted the exam, but I couldn’t go back! And I skipped a couple to go back to, and now I can’t answer them at all!”

Student #2: “I made a point to carefully read all of the questions on the test before I started on them, but I couldn’t go back at all. I was forced to submit an empty exam! Help!”

These students weren’t alone; many had done the same things and met the same issue.

So, what choice did the lecturers have?

They called IT, they fixed the glitch, and they reopened the exam. Instead of us all doing it in the two hours between noon and two pm, now we all had until nine pm to retake it.

Thus, we retook the exam of the most challenging exam in the whole degree… after they had shown us the answers.

Online learning was definitely more of a learning curve for the university than the students.

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