Kandjemuni Kamuiiri

THE Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) will not be conducting examinations for the second semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is despite President Hage Geingob announcing that now up to 150 people can attend public gatherings in terms of Covid-19 regulations. Meanwhile, the International University of Management (IUM) will be conducting both online and face to face examinations, while the University of Namibia is yet to decide on the mode of examinations.

Nust Spokesperson, Nicolaas Smit, last May in an interview with this publication said the university had developed guidelines for assessment during Covid-19 and Senate approved the change of all summative assessments from examination-based assessment practices to continuous assessment.

This, he says will allow for increased flexibility with respect to assessment, as well as to facilitate optimal use of the remainder of the 2020 academic year. The same process will be followed this year.

“As a result, there are no examinations despite the existence of an institutional requirement of a 50% comprehensive assessment that should be conducted under controlled conditions. In some instances, comprehensive assessments will take place face-to-face,” Smit says, adding that the institution ought to invest in a software that ensures that students are who they say they are when they write online assessments.

“In instances where tests are conducted online, numerous security measures are applied. These include password-protected online tests, timed online tests, scrambled test questions to ensure that no two students from a group receive the same test questions,” Smit mentions.

Unam Spokesperson, John Haufiku, says the university is also considering a blended approach. “Whether we go online or face to face is a question of, to what extent, it’s not one or the other, we haven’t decided to what extend yet. Based on current circumstances it is most likely to be both. Where the majority take online and those with qualification or specialisation that require are doing face to face but subject to the regulations, that will be enforced at the time of examination. We are taking a blended approach meaning we are planning for both. The examination question papers that are currently being set comply to both the face-to-face approach and the online approach,” Haufiku stresses.

Haufiku adds that unlike before when students were in the online exams and they finished answering question, they will not be allowed to go back and change the answer to the already answered question.

“On a script you could just go back and change your answer but you can’t do that in an online exam. They prohibit reversal, you can’t skip a question either. These are all pedagogical controls that are suited for online learning,” Haufiku elaborates.

IUM Spokesperson, Gerry Munyama, saysthe institution is also taking the blended approach. Currently the university is operating on a ‘blended approach’. For small to medium classes, face to face teaching and examination is the preferred approach. For very large classes, online teaching and examinations is the applicable approach,

Munyama points out that issues surrounding online examinations are outside the control of the university.

“The major issue is the internet connectivity for students. Some students do not have internet access at home which makes it difficult to access online exams. Some student may have internet access but its speed is erratic,” he points out.

The university uses a number of strategies to ensure online exams credibility, similar to Nust and Unam, which include, time restrictions, questions randomisations, user log in restrictions, question paper access restrictions.