In 2016, a national board of school education in India created history by publishing the results of their examinations two weeks ahead of their own standard practice, and way ahead of most other national and state examination boards. This success story highlights how product innovation and human centric approach could successfully transform a scoring and evaluation process.
Problem in hand: Time-consuming and arduous examinations process
With each passing year, the entire process of examination management right from student registration, centre allocation, hall ticket issuance to evaluation and publication of results was becoming more complex, time-consuming and arduous for the board due to paper-based processes, manual methodologies and antiquated technology setup.
These challenges often led the board to face undue delays in result publication and caused an increase in costs and administrative efforts.
Our Solution: Digitization of scoring process using Orion LICR solution
Orion developed a breakthrough solution based on Live Ink Character Recognition (LICR) technology to automate and digitize the entire scoring, evaluation and result publication process. The front-end of the solution consists of a digital pen (based on third party patented technology), an accompanying tablet/iPadTM, and specially printed top sheets of answer booklets. Examiners use the pen to transcribe marks from the inner sheets to the top sheet. The pen captures and digitizes the marks in real time, and transfers the data to the tablet/iPadTM. Examiners can view the marks in their own handwriting as well as the digitized version of the marks side by side on the tablet, and validate each mark. A Submit button on the tablet encrypts the data and transfers it instantly to the client’s cloud- based servers. This significantly reduces the time taken for compilation of results.
Robust Back-end Application
Running at the backend is a robust system called OLICR Enterprise Web that crunches massive amounts of data coming from various evaluation centers. It provides drilled down views on each evaluation center, right down to individual examiners and individual answer scripts. Live data synchronization with the client system enable its members to have a real-time view of the progress of evaluation at various centers. An end-to-end logistics management tool takes care of device distribution planning, dispatch, and tracking based on when evaluation starts at various centers. Another back-office tool remotely monitors the devices out in the field, checking on parameters such as signal strength, battery charge, synchronization with the cloud based servers, etc. A well-defined communication system triggers alerts to examiners and support staff via email and SMS.
Apart from expediting publication of results, the solution brings several other benefits.
- It effectively masks student information, ensuring absolute impartiality in the evaluation process.
- By eliminating manual data entry, and incorporating features such as automatic totaling of marks and automatic application of question paper rubrics, it ensures accuracy of the marks awarded.
- It captures the attendance of examiners at various evaluation centers, making calculation of remuneration easy.
- It enables the Client to track the progress of evaluation at various centers and to take corrective action where necessary.
- By allowing examiners to continue with the pen and paper method of evaluation that they are familiar with, it eliminates the need for them to learn new skills and minimizes resistance to adoption.
- Examiners can overwrite if a mistake was made while transcribing the marks to the top sheet. There is no limit to the number of times they can overwrite as long as they have not submitted the result. The system will reflect the last overwrite, while maintaining an audit trail of all previous overwritten entries.
Magnitude of the Implementation
The Client used the Orion LICR solution to evaluate more than 2.25 million answer scripts of the 2016 batch of students. The exercise saw 10,327 examiners spread over 907 evaluation centers, using thousands of digital pen and tablet/iPadTM sets to complete the evaluation in record time.
In a press release a week prior to publication of the results, the client’s Chief Executive & Secretary said: “Our institute is the first Examination Board in the world to introduce this system. We are extremely happy with the outcome, because our students will now be able to have their results in hand much earlier. This will give them a head start while seeking admission to institutions for higher studies.”
Feedback to the solution has been very positive from examiners both young and old. It is the simplicity and usability of the solution from the end-user perspective that has won the appreciation of the examiners.
Better Than OSM
The LICR solution is more efficient than evaluation methods like On Screen Marking (OSM). The latter envisages scanning of all the pages of an answer script using high speed industrial scanners and presenting examiners with the scanned images for evaluation.
While industrial scanners are capable of scanning hundreds of pages per minute, the solution suffers from some inherent drawbacks. About half an inch has to be guillotined off the left edge of the answer booklets and the additional sheets attached to them, prior to feeding into the scanner. This is to separate the individual sheets to enable simultaneous scanning of both sides. After scanning, the booklets have to be stitched back together. This is a labor-intensive procedure that slows down the scanning process significantly.
Evaluation centers will have to be equipped with computers and other necessary infrastructure for viewing the answer scripts. If the scanned images of the answer scripts are stored in a centralized location, evaluators will have to download the images for evaluation. At an evaluation camp where there can be a hundred or more evaluators working at a time, the internet bandwidth requirements will be huge, which will further escalate costs. Over the long term, the ROI from Orion LICR will be significantly lower than when using OSM. There is no dependency on high-bandwidth internet connection. There are no hassles associated with computers/laptops such as booting issues, virus attacks, hacking problems and power backup requirements. Since no scanning is involved, there is no additional manpower required.
Leading education board in India with over 2000 schools across the country and abroad; 250,000 students and 20,000 educators