recently in Germany a new decree was issued that computers are allowed in exams.
While this sounds good news at first (at least for me, I prefer computers to very expensive graphical calculators), the requirements for the exam-environment are very strict.
The most important points are:
- exam environment cannot be entered or left by the student alone, only by the school (meaning: by the teacher in charge)
- a computer in exam environment must be eye-catching
- unallowed leaving of the environment gives an acoustical warning (I know that this is in opposition to not being able to leave it at first)
- no network access allowed
- no peripherals (like usb-sticks) allowed
- the exam environment must still be active after hard poweroff / power failure
In germany, some schools use the “lernstick” (https://www.imedias.ch/themen/lernstick/index.cfm ) or other linux distributions that boot from stick. While I consider this quite safe, it doesn’t fulfil the requirement of being active after boot (you can remove the stick, turn off the computer, reboot and then insert the stick again to fake being in exam environment, and I can think of no means to prevent that).
The decree is now in official hearing, so maybe some things will be changed. But I started pondering about an exam environment and would like you to comment my thoughts.
- Are there any linux-based exam environments ready to use somewhere in the world?
- I can think of the following solution. Take a math-exam as an example, the application “GeoGebra” should be used.
- create an x-session for geogebra alone for a specific user “exam”
- start the exam-session with a password (more on that later). Upon starting the session, all files in exam-user are deleted.
- disable all virtual consoles
- put the exam user into autologin
- to leave the exam mode, a different password must be entered, exam-user will be taken out of autologin then
One can think of programming an exam-shell. Depending on the password entered, different applications can be enabled. So the x-session would be for this shell, not for geogebra (which makes things more complicated, one would need a window manager then, I think).
The only way to get out of this that I can think of is to reboot into system repair mode, maybe this can be disabled somehow.
The password could be generated such that it is only valid on a certain day.
All of this would be much easier if network was allowed. Then entering and leaving the exam mode can be registered on a server. All clients must issue alive-signals every minute or so, the teacher sees computers that are no longer in exam mode with a big red sign on the teacher pc.The issued passoword is valid for a certain exam only.
I would very much like to see exams taken with linux-based systems. In Germany, many schools start using IPads, which - in my opinion - are for leisure rather than for serious work.
Thanks in advance for your input,