Exam Period at RSU Will Take Place Remotely
Exam period has begun at Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) as well as the pre-defence and defence of bachelor’s theses and other final papers. Latvia has extended the state of the emergency until 12 May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has meant that all examinations at RSU will take place remotely.
The RSU e-study environment makes it possible to organise both oral and written tests and exams using Zoom and Respondus Monitor. The process requires more thorough planning and preparation than before.
Lecturers have already been using Moodle for tests and tasks before all studies started taking place remotely.
‘Both Zoom and Respondus Monitor have been approbated and the university is currently working on various ways in which to use these platforms. We are planning to use these platforms after the emergency ends as well. These distance learning tools provide the opportunity for lecturers to plan lectures and classes for larger groups of students, which would reduce the use of university premises and infrastructure. Besides, guest lecturers could conduct classes remotely from their home countries.'
Zigmunds Zitmanis, Director of the IT Department
Lecturers assess papers submitted by students remotely using Turnitin anti-plagiarism software. Various technical solutions are also available for written and oral examinations to prevent cheating and the use of unauthorised aids, to verify students’ identity and monitor their work environment to ensure academic integrity. To prevent misunderstandings related to the examination process and assessment, it is recommended that the exam be recorded.
The IT Department recommends lecturers to inform their students in good time about exam procedures and the tools that will be used during the exam.
Additionally, students have the opportunity to take a test exam to check the settings on their computers. Just as for on-site studies, there will be consultations before the exam during which students are welcome to ask questions about how the exam will be conducted.
Lecturers should approach the IT Service Centre before exams in case they need support. ‘I am confident that lecturers are capable of doing everything by themselves as they have access to online manuals and training videos on how to use the various platforms and tools. Lecturers can, however, feel more secure when an IT specialist is present to solve various unexpected situations that could come up,’ Zitmanis notes.
If a student does not have the technical capabilities to sit a written exam remotely, it can be arranged for the student to take the exam in an RSU lecture room where the proper conditions can be guaranteed, or the exam can be substituted for a remote oral exam.
Assistant Professor Toms Pulmanis, the Vice-Dean of the RSU Department of Public Health and Social Welfare, admitted that remote final examinations and state examinations could pose challenges. There has, however, already an example of best practices at RSU that can be learned from: students in the Social Work bachelor’s and master’s programmes have already taken their national examinations remotely on 2 and 3 April. The first written on-line exam for students at the Faculty of Pharmacy will take place on 14 April using Respondus Monitor.
The number of activities in the RSU e-learning environment has increased from an average of 50,000 activities per day in February to 120,000 activities during the state of emergency, and numbers are only increasing. An average of 200 virtual classes take place every day on Zoom. Since 12 March, when RSU studies began to be held remotely, 3,237 virtual classes have been held and more than 1,000 new videos have been created for students – recordings of simulations, lectures, various manipulations, as well as learning aids such as how to cope with stressful situations.