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How To Ensure End-to-End Paperless Examinations : Q&A with Biju Zacharian, President, India, LittleMore Innovation Labs

As the pioneer and innovative thought leader of Paperless Digital Examination LittleMore Innovation Labs has successfully delivered 1.5 million exams with zero loss of data. They are transforming the examination process providing solutions to challenges encountered during examinations with ease and elegance.

 

LMI’s two products PEXA and DigiTaal have managed to provide 100% secured networks and devices to conduct descriptive exams

 

LMI’ vision is to work with the world’s leading educational institutions to transform the examinations process by enabling end-to-end paperless examinations. So far, the notable universities they are tied up with include Manipal University (Also won an Eco-friendly award for going paperless), IIIT Bangalore, Nimhans University and Reva University. They have received no complaints from students and faculty.

 

In an elaborate interaction with stoodnt.com, Biju Zacharian, President, India, LittleMore Innovation Labs, delves deeper into his vision of transforming the examinations process by enabling end-to-end paperless examinations.

 

  

What was the idea behind launching LittleMore Innovation Labs?

 

Universities and institutions came up with modern campuses with state-of-art facilities but there was no change in the methodology of conducting examinations. Therefore, it became more and more difficult to cater to the tremendous growth in number of student in India adhering to the conventional way of conducting examination on paper. The paper-based examination was accompanied by challenges like huge wastage of paper, storage, malpractices like paper leakage, cheating and impersonation, logistics, lengthy cycle time, errors in totalling and zero analytics or insights leading to resource leakage and a probable challenge to the quality of education. Institutions, looking for solutions to these problems, gradually started adopting solutions based on OMR Top-Sheet, Online Computer based and Digital Scanning and online marking-based methods. While OMR Top-Sheet and Online Computer based methods were MCQ only and used mainly for admissions process across number of universities, only Digital Scanning and online-marking based solution could address the evaluation challenges of the descriptive questions.

 

Sooner than later, the Universities figured out that this solution was also sub-optimal. The large-scale usage of paper and stationary and manual process errors crept in as volumes increased. Also, digital scanning method required huge capex for setting up high speed scanners. This online-offline model, therefore, could not bring evaluation time down and there were challenges still remaining.

 

This is when LittleMore Innovations Lab, a Singapore base organization, came up with Paperless Examination Advantage (PEXA) cloud ecosystem and DigiTaal, a state-of-art hardware, custom-built for writing descriptive examination. This solution transformed each and every aspect of examination process, eliminated paper from entire process, reduced examination cycle-time, brought in security and safety across question paper authoring, exam execution, evaluation and result publishing.

 

 

How does the software work?

 

PEXA, is the software eco system, which controls delivery of exams on DigiTaal, custom built examination device, which offers similar experience of writing on paper. PEXA, works on a software as a service model, with certain software services like authoring and evaluation running on the cloud and the rest in the device,

 

 

How many universities have adopted this technology and how many exams have you conducted yet?

 

Currently, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Manipal University, IIIT-B, REVA University, VIT Vellore, NIMHANS and others are using the paperless examination technology and we have conducted 1.5Million exams till date without any loss of data.

 

 

What is the response from students and Universities?

 

The response has been excellent. Given the fact that we are disrupting a century old system, the adaptation has been extremely fast.

 

Shubham Goyal, 1st year MBBS Student, Manipal University said “”After using DigiTaal, we don’t need to worry about forgetting a pencil box or any stationary, moreover we can use our creativity on the wide range of features that the device offers. Most importantly, it helps in conserving the environment by restricting paper wastage”

 

Dr Sreejith Govindan, Deputy Registrar – Evaluation, Manipal University said “DigiTaal is a revolution. It makes the examination process simple and paperless. It has the capacity to make the entire teaching and learning activity paperless eliminating any malpractices”

 

Dr. Vinod Thomas, Professor in Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Manipal University to share his view on the future of LMI’s PEXA+DigiTaal Ecosystem, he said “It’s an excellent innovation in the education sector, packaged to ease most of the challenges involved in the examination process – future of examinations in India.”

 

As per Prof. Chandrashekhar Ramanathan, Professor and Dean, IIIT-B University IIIT-B is always open to try new ideas and technologies, the paperless digital examinations with end to end solutions initiative appealed to the university.”

 

“Preparing for exams is already a hassle, above that we had to remember to carry stationery, calculators etc. All this inconvenience was resolved by the digital pad. Moreover, we had much neater answer scripts, with no scratching, colour options and shape drawing assistance. Overall the experience came out to be better than pen and paper exams.” – Ansh Goyal, pursuing M.Tech, IIIT Bangalore

 

Prof. ShivakumarMalapaka, teaches Physics at IIIT Bangalore said “Thanks to DigiTaal and Pexa Ecosystem. I could meet the grading deadlines even while sitting in a Hotel Room in Sweden while traveling for a Conference and complete evaluating the answer-sheets without any trouble.

 

S.Y. Kulkarni, Vice Chancellor -REVA University said “Storage was an issue for us as too much of space required, fear of damage or loss of important papers was a concern. Since everything is stored in the system, we can store more data and for longer without any hassle.”

 

Prof. Vinay NA, Assistant Professor- REVA University said  “This device is environmentally friendly as it eliminates the use of paper and is cost effective. Storage is no more an issue for us and it has put an end to a lot of malpractices during the examination process”.

 

 

How is it helping students?

 

Writing on the device is similar to writing on paper. The device has a lot of features as device is customised to meet the needs of students.

– They don’t need to carry any stationary

– They are given a fair evaluation as everything is evaluated online.

– The examinations will always be on time

– The descriptive questions help with reasoning skills and creative thinking

– Results are declared earlier reducing stress levels and a lot more advantages.

 

 

How is it ensuring zero loss of data?

 

LittleMore has conducted more than 1.5 million exams comprising 20 million pages for its customers who have benefitted tremendously on aspects like:

 

 Safety & Security  

The combination of PEXA and DigiTaal has successfully addressed safety and security concerns on each and every front like encryption, data isolation, cyberattacks, student Impersonation, device malfunction, data loss and cheating.

  • The biometric facility (fingerprint and retina scan) helps in keeping impersonation in check. The hardware allows log-in by thumb impression or retina scan check which means no unauthorised student can come in and take the exam.
  • The proven system is capable of providing role-based user access and can be restricted to named IPs which means controller of examination (CoE) will have more control on entire examination process.
  • The long battery life of DigiTaal helps conduct examination throughout the day even during power outage. The hardware does not connect to internet; hence it can be used even when internet is down unlike other online solutions.
  • The device keeps saving data in real time during examination and solution provides different layers of safety.
  • DigiTaal comes with a special screen which limits viewing angle. This helps in minimizing cheating/copying inside examination hall.

         

 Transparency

The system, when we talk about conducting examination, should be transparent to all relevant stakeholders.

  • PEXA ecosystem is capable of bringing in anonymity through masking which leads to anonymous evaluation. Sets of Answers could be distributed across evaluators and an entire script need not be sent to one evaluator. The system would take care of tracking and totalling at the end of the process.
  • The system is able to provide audit trails of students writing exams as well as faculty evaluating answer sheets. These trails can be used in case of any disputes.

 

Logistics & Operations

This is the area where efficiency comes into picture. This attracts lots of resource leakage when handled inefficiently. Thanks to PEXA ecosystem which is making logistics and operations more efficient by reducing examination process by up to 75%.

  • With PEXA, there is no need to print question papers or answer sheets. This can help save resources, add security and benefit stakeholders.
  • All the question papers and answer sheets are delivered online. Therefore, no movement of paper between buildings or campuses.
  • Evaluators can give feedback to students on the online portal itself and students can communicate back if they have any questions regarding marking.
  • No totalling error as PEXA takes care of it.
  • Students are not required to bring in any stationary and admit cards with them. They can just walk in empty handed and start writing examinations – all thanks to PEXA and DigiTaal.
  • PEXA makes answer sheet viewing, applying for re-evaluation and viewing score card hassle-free. All these operations can be done digitally through PEXA’s student portal.

 

Storage

Institutions need separate facilities for storing paper-based answer sheet. Fetching out an old answer sheet can be a very daunting task. PEXA has made it extremely simple. All the answer sheets are saved in digital form and can be fetched easily in case the need arise.

 

Analytics

PEXA’s in-built analytics can provide great insights to all the stakeholders and can actually improve the standard of education. The insights and reports are customizable as per the needs of university.

 

Eco-friendly

PEXA and DigiTaal help eliminate paper from entire examination process and make the entire process eco-friendly; thereby helping institutions achieve their mission.

 

 

What the challenges encountered during examinations that ‘LittleMore Innovation Labs’ is addressing?

 

– Cost effective as use of paper eliminated

– The evaluators had to stay back for corrections, now they don’t need to as the papers can be corrected online and is not restricted to a place.

– Errors during evaluation are avoided as all of it done through the system.

– Malpractices like cheating, impersonation eliminated.

– All data is stored on the software helping with storage issues.

 

  

 Future plans?

 

Littlemore has demonstrated clear benefits of paperless digital exams in tertiary education, bringing in extremely high administrative efficiencies, reliability and security. We will continue to entrench ourselves deeper into the examination eco system in India and in global tertiary educational institutions, as well. We are launching analytics shortly, which will bring in tremendous of qualitative value to education through paperless digital examinations.

 

 

Author: Baishali Mukherjee

Profile- An independent writer and journalist for last nine years; presently working with Education World, Entrepreneur India, Scrabbl.com and Stoodnt.com. Worked as the content head for four books and have articles and features published in leading print and digital media spaces.

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