Mahatma Gandhi University is the top NAAC-rated university in Kerala and second-time winner of the Chancellor’s Award. All these have been possible due to the innovative approaches of the University which has 196 colleges and 2 lakh plus students as stakeholders.
MGU had been nurturing a dream from ’99; to implement a Question Bank System for all exams. Though the modus operandi had yet not been decided upon, Question Banks had become part of MGU’s policy matters from then onwards. But given the challenges of implementing this vision as software for these were not available in those days, this was shelved.
“The University IT Division put us in touch with ipsr solutions and that is how it all started,” says Dr. R. Pragash, Syndicate Member and Exam Sub-committee Convenor of Mahathma Gandhi University. “The new Syndicate of MGU decided to introduce a new syllabus in 2018 at the UG level. With the new syllabus, the number of exams was bound to increase. Exams according to both the new and old syllabi had to be conducted. When the number of exams increases, conducting exams would be a huge challenge. We were wondering how to lessen this burden and that is how we came to deliberate on the Question Bank system. Any number of exams could be conducted with an efficient system. First, we decided to implement this in the UG programmes. The PG process is still underway. As we had a clear vision as to what we wanted, implementing QnSmart was relatively smooth. But as we were a university, the implementation process was not without challenges considering the complexity of the exam system.”
MGU decided to implement the system and use it first for the third semester UG examinations scheduled for November 2018. With hardly a month in hand, it was a herculean task, to train about 400 teachers to prepare question banks for 300 courses.
The syndicate hand-picked a pilot group of teachers from 14 affiliate colleges who to participate in the initial training. These teachers were assigned roles as Key Resource Persons (KRPs). Along with the ipsr team, these KRPs trained teachers not just in their respective colleges, but in other colleges too. Subjects were divided across these 14 colleges and Question Banks were created.
The Syndicate understood that once these 14 KRPs became confident and proficient, it would be easy to win the confidence of the entire teaching pool. ipsr solutions diligently trained these 14 persons to become adept at handling the user-friendly software in a short period. Aptly chosen, the KRPs quickly grasped the system. As they became confident, implementation too became smooth.
Dr Sabu Thomas, Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University is both optimistic about the value addition that the Online Question Bank System will bring to the assessment process. “During my stint as a Visiting Professor at the University of Strasbourg in France, I was asked to mainly create problem-solving questions for assessing student performance. There, I realized that a good balance of questions improves the quality of the teaching and learning process. We can evaluate the skills rather than the memory of the learner. With this computer-assisted system, MGU teachers will be able to channelize assessment to define desired outcomes of a particular course. This is the true purpose of any learning.”
Dr. Pragash was all praises for the round-the-clock support of the ipsr solutions’ team. “Their support in this entire process was remarkable. Though we were the main stakeholders in this implementation, they guided us throughout,” he says.
Talking about the admirable speed at which the project was implemented. “We had informed teacher organizations that we were going to implement this software. But little did they expect it to happen this fast,” says Dr. Pragash. “We were able to complete the work in just one or two months. The ipsr team was available 24/7 for queries from teachers.”
With 196 colleges and 2 lakh plus students as stakeholders, M. G. University, posed a lot of challenges. But the ipsr team worked relentlessly, seeking constant feedback from the University team to smooth all the problems and successfully implement the software.
The inclusion of Bloom’s Taxonomy in the software was a major breakthrough. “After the training one of the demands rising from the teachers at MGU was that the syllabus should be redrafted to fully utilise the true potential of the software,” says Dr. Pragash. This demand for change from teachers themselves is a breakthrough as such.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is the gold standard in Higher Education these days and all forward-thinking institutions have to consider this in their evaluation processes. “When we won the second Chancellor’s Award, Dr. Usha Titus IAS, Principal Secretary Higher Education Department in her Keynote Address at the award function mentioned that we should include evaluation based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. In my speech that followed, I could proudly state that we had already implemented this in the previous three semesters. We had thought ahead,” says Dr. Pragash.
On November 27, 2018, M.G. University became the first Government University to conduct exams with this kind of software, marking an important milestone in the way exams are conducted in India.
“Another feather in our cap was that we not only generated these question papers from the online question bank repository, but we also distributed it online to our 196 affiliated colleges. And the entire process was error-free. Those are two great milestones,” says a proud Dr Pragash. “The biggest achievement is the cost-saving in terms of printing question papers. With QnSmart, we have reduced our cost to 1/5th of the usual expenditure.”
The system has helped the university gain media attention and the appreciation of the academic community. The University was appreciated by NAAC for the online exam transaction and publishing the result in 12 days.
Quality improvement is the primary achievement of QnSmart implementation. It has crafted an evaluation process that is learner-centred training and Outcome-focused.
Syllabus revisions become easier to include updations and autonomy shall be made easier and the online question bank system can support all these without headache.
Dr. Pragash who spearheaded these changes says he was completely stress-free and confident throughout the process as he had a clear vision of the project and its deliverables. One of the main achievements of the software is how it cleverly weaves in Outcome-based Education into the Evaluation system to make education truly purposeful.
“Teachers have a great appreciation for this software. It has created an outlook beyond the scope of training. They now have a clear vision of curriculum, syllabus, teaching, evaluation and their consolidated outcomes. The question bank has lured them to get actively involved and enjoy the challenges of doing so. All of them have become equal stakeholders,” adds a confident Dr, Pragash.
With huge success in the first step, QnSmart and MG University are confident and optimistic about the 10,000+ exams being conducted annually.
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