Although this idea originates in schools, there is a direct impact for colleges too

The external exam protocol called 'Controlled Assessment' is currently causing headaches for teachers and network managers,

Essentially, it’s a way of letting students do coursework, in class, under controlled and supervised conditions. Work’s put away between sessions and the exam boards want evidence to show students can’t get to it. (They speak of “maintaining the integrity of the work” and will visit exam officers to quiz them about it.)

If it’s paperwork, of course, it’s about locked filing cabinets. But what about work that’s done electronically? How, in an age of anytime, anywhere learning does a college block access between sessions? And furthermore how do you operate the required controls during the actual sessions? No surprise to learn that the requirements vary, subject to subject, exam board to exam board. Internet access, for example, may or may not be permitted. One exam board suggests you hand every student a memory stick.

One of numerous teachers and network managers who’ve thought about this is Adrian Edgar, Director of ICT at Culford School, Bury St Edmunds.

Adrian, writing a guest post on Dave Coleman’s SharePointEduTech blog, describes how he first thought it was going to be about students working with memory sticks, handed out and collected each session, and indeed the the AQA guidance actually says that’s how to do it.

As Adrian tells me though:

“The logistics, with what might be hundreds of memory sticks, just don’t bear thinking about.”

The solution he’s come up with uses Windows7 and Active Directory, with 'User Management Rights Administrator' (UMRA) from www.tools4ever.com. The techie story is there on Adrian’s post,  but from the teacher and student’s point of view there are two key points. Firstly, the teacher, at the start of a controlled session has only to open up a folder for the group he or she is working with and decide to give access to the work. All the security issues are taken care of in the background. And secondly, the student is provided with an environment that’s separate from everyday work and so, in Adrian’s words:

“It helps that mindset that says, ‘This is like opening up an exam paper’ – there’s that extra gravitas.”

This is far from the final word on the subject. Adrian’s aware there’ll be other solutions, and indeed he credits Jim Christie, IT Manager at Long Eaton School with the original idea. Dave Coleman, for his part, would like to know how others are tackling the problem and tweets a promise to post ideas on his blog.

Read Adrian's blog post on Controlled Assessment on the SharePointEduTech blog