The university of Louvain-la-Neuve (UCL) has cancelled plans to set 40 exams online using the testing platform TestWe, after a number of bugs emerged.
Like other institutions, UCL is forced this year to use online exams because of the problems created by the need for social distancing. TestWe is just one of the various online platforms which allow examinations to be set at a distance.
But during testing of the platform “numerous bugs appeared, giving cause for concern,” a university spokesperson said. Testing took place on Tuesday using students in various departments. At one point the system collapsed because of the high numbers of students logging in.
“We are dealing with software that damages computers, and which works randomly,” one student commented. “We had several tests to familiarise ourselves with the platform, and it completely crashed.”
The university has now decided to move 40 examinations onto other platforms, including Microsoft Teams and the open-source platform Moodle.
“We don’t want to take any risks and we want to take account of the very great stress this system caused many students,” Isabelle De Coster, spokesperson for UCL, told La Dernière Heure.
TestWe is a Paris-based start-up which launched in 2014. The platform claims to be 100% secure, even when allowing students to work with their own electronic device – something more than 95% of young people in France now own.
The failure of the platform is the latest in a long line of problems faced by students in higher education as a result of exams having to be taken remotely.
According to a poll taken by the Federation of French-speaking Students (FEF) at the end of April, 70% of students had at that time still not received a full set of instructions on how their exams were to be carried out – and some of those students had received no word at all.
One month ago, Chems Mabrouk, president of the FEF, described the problem of remote exams.
“At the technical level, we cannot guarantee that the platform is stable. As well as that, students are afraid that their connection might not be stable. Will the colleges accept this excuse? That will be left to their own discretion. We hope the schools will show flexibility and generosity in this matter.”