Norway tests laptop exam scheme



About 6,000 students in Norway are doing exams on their laptops in a trial that could soon be rolled out across the country.

A computer monitoring system originally designed for enterprises and government department use has made a new era of digital exams possible at schools in Norway.

Norway has a reputation for innovative use of ICT in Education. So far, the exam monitoring system based on 3ami’s Monitoring and Audit System (MAS) is in use by up to 6000 students, at 11 high schools in pioneering Nord-Trøndelag. MAS Education Edition is designed to be rolled out easily by other Norwegian counties, and many are expected to adopt there and throughout following Nord-Trøndelag’s lead as a way to meet government requirements.

At high schools in Nord-Trøndelag, a county near Trondheim, students can take school exams in all subjects on their state provided laptops, thanks to the MAS monitoring and auditing system from UK-based security specialist 3ami. With students increasingly using laptops, schools face a dilemma in setting exams: either ban computer use, provide unfamiliar “hobbled” systems that have limited functionality, or else allow students to use the laptops they know – and somehow find a way to prevent them accessing hidden notes, surfing the Internet or collaborating with friends.

During exams in Nord-Trøndelag, student laptops all run 3ami’s Monitoring and Audit System (MAS). Any attempt to copy material or contact friends will alert the examination officer, and reports are produced after the exam is complete. “Students have access to all their normal PC tools and documents,” says Bjørg Helland, project manager for digital literacy at Nord-Trøndelag county council (NTFK), “and 3ami MAS makes sure that they follow the restrictions that apply for each test.”  The software, designed to let commercial companies monitor their staff’s activities, is recommended for use in schools by local security software distributor XO Expect More. Under the overall control of the NTFK, it is managed locally be teachers in each school, so that any incidents can be handled quickly. “Each teacher or school can run MAS without major involvement from NTFK,” says Helland.

Other parts of Norway are expected to use the system, and so are school administrations in other countries, to allow today’s students to perform at their best in tests, without clipping their digital wings.

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