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IIEST semester exams to be held through digital platforms

Questions would be sent through Google Meet to the students a couple of minutes before the start of the test

IIEST will hold the upcoming semester exams through a digital platform after students in Monday’s senate meeting expressed their fear about writing the tests on the campus because of the raging Covid pandemic, officials said.

Final-year BTech students of the Shibpur institute had last month written the final-semester supplementary exams on the campus, but a much larger number will write the upcoming semester tests.

“Only 59 students had written the supplementary exams on the campus on November 11 and 12, while as many as 3,000 are slated to write the semester tests in December and January,” said an IIEST official.

The institute had at one point considered holding offline or in-person tests to ensure transparency. But as students and teachers wanted to avoid assembly as a precaution against Covid-19, the institute opted for a test through a digital platform.

“We could not ignore the concern over physical assembly. A minuscule number of students had written the supplementary tests. But the mid-term and end-term tests will be written by a large number of students and we don’t want to risk their health,’’ IIEST director Parthasarathi Chakrabarti said, explaining why on-campus tests would not be held.

An official of the institute said questions about the fairness of tests conducted on digital platforms would arise because students would write the papers sitting at home. Concerns over fairness, he said, prompted IIT Madras to hold the December semester exams in designated Kendriya Vidyalayas across the country. Students of the IIT, however, opposed the decision citing health risks.

Aman Kumar, the general secretary of the students’ union at IIEST, said: “During the senate meeting and during an earlier interaction with the director, we had appealed that students should not be brought to the campus to write the test, as that could risk their health.”

IIEST director Chakrabarti said the students would be sent questions over Google Meet a couple of minutes before the start of the test.

After accessing the questions on their computer or smartphone, the students will write the answers on paper and will have 15 minutes after the end of each day’s exam to upload scanned answer scripts on Google Meet.

“We will ask students to switch on the web cams while they write the answers. Those accessing the questions on smartphones will have to keep the cameras of the phone on while penning the answers. That will ensure transparency,” said Chakrabarti.

Those who don’t have a computer or a smartphone will have to write the test from a cybercafe.