Srikanth Ganesan, Founder and CEO, Littlemore Innovation Labs

The online exam was an untapped area until the pandemic. Now, many educational institutions are exploring the possibilities of exams from home. Srikanth Ganesan, Founder and CEO of Littlemore Innovation Labs, says, “Online exams are not rocket science. The software functionality itself is quite simple. The critical path to a glitch free online exam is reliable connectivity and server-side design to handle large concurrency.” Littlemore Innovation Labs is one of India’s leading Ed-Tech company which is focused on transforming the examinations process by enabling end-to-end digital examinations. In an email interaction with Higher Education Digest, Srikanth Ganesan talks about the benefits of administering exams at home, how has it evolved in India and many more.

School and colleges closures have brought online learning providers into the spotlight. In this scenario, what are the benefits of administering exams at student homes? How can it augment the efficiency of online learning programs?

Exams are important to measure learning outcomes. We are still at a very nascent stage of the outcome-based education curve. Exam intelligence plays a critical role in helping the students understand the areas of learning they are good in and where they need to improve. Exams from home are as important as learning from home. The efficacy of online education from home can only be measured by exams.

Institutions were caught unaware when the pandemic hit us. Unlike enterprises, very few Institutions have a business continuity plan. We still have a long way to go in leveraging technology for institutional learning/teaching, but there is some headway which has been achieved in the last 3 months in adapting to the new normal. We do hear many students and parents complaining about the efficacy of online learning/teaching methods. Without assessments and exams, it will be impossible to have a check on the qualitative aspects of learning from home.

How has Computer-Based Testing evolved in India over the last few years? A pioneer in paperless digital exams, what would be the role of Littlemore Innovation Labs in the same?

Computer-based testing as a technology has been around in India for more than 15 years. The initial adaptation was in the public exams space like recruitment and entrance exams. A few Universities have also pioneered as early adopters.

Online exams are not rocket science. The software functionality itself is quite simple. The critical path to a glitch-free online exam is reliable connectivity and server-side design to handle large concurrency. Unfortunately, online exams have not changed much technologically.

At Littlemore Innovation Labs, we look at exams from a digital perspective and avoid jargons like “online” etc. Our solution is asynchronous. Exams can happen in a disconnected mode. We have delivered exams in the remotest parts of India with limited or no connectivity. We have disrupted traditional paper exams in a way no one has ever done before. 2.5MM paperless digital exams and 55MM pages written on our solution with zero loss of data. That is our pedigree.

We are an exam solutions company. We are not a single point solution company. We have 3 product lines which would address all the needs of customers globally, on-premise, exam from home and BYOD. Our suite of products covers all possible scenarios, including force mejeure events like the current pandemic. We are currently doing multiple pilots with many customers for exams from home. Once our customers are satisfied, we will be rolling out at scale across India and at price points which are affordable by any college/school/University.

Cheating can occur in several ways, both before and during an exam. How can “exam -from – home” service control examination fraud?

Let me put it this way. Not all students cheat. But some do. Within that some, few do it out of curiosity to beat the system, few out of habit and peer pressure. Although Live remote proctoring is the buzzword now, we need to be sensitive to the privacy concerns of students while writing exams from home. Live remote proctoring is a lot of effort and stress on both the students and faculty with very little value in curbing malpractices. With low-resolution cameras in most student laptops, it is impossible for AI algorithms to support the claims of remote proctoring products.

We do offer the remote proctoring feature, but we encourage our customers to use our powerful digital exam forensic analysis features post-exam, to detect suspected malpractices on an exception basis. Our solution is elegant, powerful and reduces the stress on the faculty and genuine students substantially.

How will the PEXA platform boost Digital India and Skill India? How will it help India to attract international interest and investment?

To the best of our knowledge, we are the first company to eliminate paper from University exam with a writing device. Many other countries have shown interest in using our solution and evinced interest in JV’s and R&D partnerships. In our own small way, we have been able to showcase early Indian adaptation to futuristic technologies which even developed countries have not adapted yet.

The pandemic has exposed the deep digital divide in the education space. India has the potential of a billion education devices in the next 5 to 7 years. We are working with some of the largest global technology leaders to manufacture devices out of India. This will be key to the Digital India initiative. This would create huge opportunities for R&D and manufacturing skills. Along with it, there is a huge opportunity for exam operations/tech support jobs across the nook and corner of India.

Is Computer-Based Testing set to revamp the overall Higher Education Sector? What should be the focus of Indian education institutions in terms of Computer-Based Testing?

The pandemic has shaken the core of the traditional education system. We need to be careful about over-engineering solutions to a sector which is at its nascent state of technology adoption. The policymakers and Institution management should align on a technology roadmap for education holistically and not look at technology adaptation only for exams in isolation. Institutions and private sector players should be incentivized to adopt technology faster in Institutions. The ultimate objective should be to create affordable technology for all children. Subsidies, CSR programs, private equity participation should help technology-based education reach underprivileged children on a sustainable basis. Else the digital divide will become a huge challenge in the future.

As organizations are ready to invest in the workforce to make them skilled through convenient Computer-Based Testing, what is your advice to the people who are still sceptical on “exam -from – home” services?

Exam from home is here to stay for a long time. It should be a business continuity plan for all Institutions, even post-pandemic.

 

More About Srikanth Ganesan

With a career spanning over 20 years, Srikanth has worked in Technology & Education sectors in some of the leading organizations in India. He has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and building large scalable solutions. Srikanth has been actively championing innovation in educational experience and outcomes over the last decade.

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