The Use of Audio and Video in E-Examinations

E-examinations are often associated with their limits like f.i. the absence of an automatic evaluation function for essay questions. However, even for those types of questions considerable time savings can be achieved through the use of e-examinations. Therefore, electronic tests are used more often than one might think (Ms. Böhner-Taute explains in an interview why her e-exams solely consist of essay questions).

This article aims at showing additional opportunities that arise when using e-exams instead of traditional paper-based exams.

A significant advantage is that electronic exams offer the possibility of integrating audio and video material. In the Faculty of Humanities, especially courses concerned with language practice employ audio and video material to test students’ listening skills. Carmen Mata Castro, lecturer for Spanish of the Department of Romance Studies, has gained much experience in the usage of audio and video. She told us that the use of electronic exams has significantly facilitated the conduction of tests including listening comprehension. In the past, those tests had to be carried out in seminar rooms equipped with loudspeakers that had a maximum of 25 places. What is more, students often complained about poor acoustics and that they could not determine when to play the audio files. Nowadays more than 80 students from different courses can take the exam at the same time in the e-examination room (MZG 1.116):

"In the past, the lecturers had to offer two exam dates for every course – one for the written and one for the listening part. Now students can take the exam as a whole and at the same time, they can decide independently when to work on the listening tasks."

Students also approve of using video and listening tasks in e-exams. Sina Stemmer is a trainee teacher (French and Spanish) and emphasizes the added value as opposed to conventional exams: “What I like about e-exams is that we can listen to the audio file at a time of our own choosing. Personally, I use the breaks in between the first and the second attempt to read through the individual questions again and to underline some key words. Thus, it is important for me that I can decide when to start the second attempt”. Furthermore, she points out that questions involving listening comprehension are subject to certain conditions: „All headphones should be checked beforehand, so that no malfunctions occur during the test. Moreover, our lecturers should not make any important announcements through the loudspeaker when a candidate is still listening to the audio file.”

Listening comprehension can be combined with any question type available in ILIAS. The lecturer can simply upload an audio or video file to the desired question and then determine how many times the file can be played in the test and whether it can be paused (during a playback). A pause between the attempts is inevitable and another playback must be started manually. Due to the wide availability in ILIAS and the simplicity of creating special questions, this option is not only interesting for foreign language teaching, but also with regard to the analysis of processes or behaviour patterns, e.g. in medical contexts or teaching situations. Dr. Ingo Mey from the Institute of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry is already working on video-based questions in order to be able to directly grasp the ability to observe, which is central to his discipline, and to deal with the abstraction of chemical facts by describing them with words.