COVID-19 and Education | Dr Tariq Sheikh

As I mentioned in my previous article, every pandemic teaches us a new lesson. A similar thing happened this time too, as COVID-19 forced us to switch from blackboard based classes to the digital and online classes. Every new phenomenon, when adopted, leaves some voids too. So did this COVID-19, where we are forced to conduct exams based on MCQs only. Students are not able to perform practicals and demonstrate their practical ability. We are forced to switch sides as a subjective based examination is the finest technique to bring the best out of a student. Some out of the box techniques which can be installed during these days of crises are mentioned below:

Virtual laboratories

A virtual laboratory is an on-screen simulator that students use to test ideas, perform practicals, and observe results. They allow the student to “tinker” with laboratory equipment that behaves in almost the same way as it would in a real environment. Students perform a series of experiments that yield accurate results. Virtual Labs do not require any additional infrastructural setup for conducting experiments at user premises. The simulation-based experiments can be accessed remotely via the internet.


1. To provide remote-access to Labs in various disciplines of Science and Engineering. These Virtual Labs would provide to students at the undergraduate level, postgraduate level as well as to research scholars.
2. To stimulate students to conduct experiments by arousing their inquisitiveness. This would help them in learning basic and advanced concepts through remote experimentation.
3. To provide a complete Learning Management System around Virtual Labs where the students can avail the various tools for learning, including additional web-resources, video-lectures, animated demonstrations, and self-evaluation.
4. To share costly apparatus and resources, which are otherwise available to a limited number of users due to constrictions on time and geographical distances.
As for as the Jammu and Kashmir (UT) government is concerned,  under the supervision of MHRD, JK Higher education in collaboration with IIT Mumbai has taken a new initiative for the establishment of a virtual lab. in all the Degree Colleges of JK(UT). To accomplish the project the JK Higher Education Department has already identified various regions and nodes wherein these colleges will be hosting these virtual labs. A very positive initiative especially for the students and in particular for the education system.  

What is an Online Examination?

Online Examination System is a technology-driven way to simplify examination activities like defining exam patterns with question banks, defining exam timer, objective/ subjective question sections, conducting exams using the computer or mobile devices in a paperless manner.
Online Examination System is a cost-effective, accessible way to convert traditional pen and paper-based exams to online and paperless mode. Candidates can appear for the exam using any desktop, laptop, or mobile device with a browser. Exam results can be generated instantly for the objective type of questions. It can simplify overall examination management and result in generation activity.

Why Should Educational Institutions Switch to Online Exams?

Schools, colleges, and universities have benefited by adopting the online examination format. 
1. Smooth conduct of test: Most of the online examination platforms come with an auto evaluation feature. For instance, Google Form. The questions featured are mostly MCQs. It helps a teacher to auto evaluate the answers by comparing it with a set of predefined answers. Digital evaluation improves the accuracy of evaluation and makes it easy for teachers to submit tests faster and with minimal efforts.
2. Save time and money: With the help of online exam solutions, organizing an examination becomes even simpler and more effective. A teacher can conduct an exam by emailing the link for the questions or sending an invite to the students to participate in the given exam. Students do not have to be physically present in a classroom. If they have access to a web-enabled device, they can appear for the test from a remote location.
3. Enhanced security: Students appearing for the exam can be verified using biometrics-based authentication features. Most of the online examination solutions also provide remote proctoring during the examination, so there is no need for invigilation.
4. Cut costs on paper and save the environment: The use of question and answer papers in educational institutions can be reduced drastically by conducting exams online. Online question papers are created digitally, and students can answer these questions online by choosing the right answer.

Thus Pandemic of COVID-19 gives new lessons and insists us go for the transformation of the technology-based education system, which not only revolutionizes the education system but also authenticates it with minimum effort and time.

About the author: Dr. Tariq Hussain Sheikh teaches
Computer Applications at Government Degree College Poonch.

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