of being handwriting experts, but the
process is a little more complicated than
thumbing through the old exam book.
yet using the software may be unwilling
to accept those extra headaches.
On exam day, students come to class,
turn on their laptops and start Securexam.
Before the exam, a professor wanting to
use the software must have provided a
class list to OASIS, which creates individual accounts that students use to down-load and install the program from a Web
site. Once Securexam is running, it locks
out all other programs on the student’s
laptop. Throughout the exam, the software
saves students’ work every 60 seconds.
Then, once the student has finished the
exam and exited the program, the exam
cannot be opened by the student. The
professor accesses it over a server and then
Fisher said the software is improving.
Early versions sometimes crashed students’
computers; that problem has been corrected. Lowman agreed that the current
version is much easier to use.
It seems unlikely that Securexam will
replace blue books anytime soon. Some of
the biggest obstacles have nothing to do
with software, Fisher said. Not all classrooms are outfitted with enough power
outlets to accommodate laptop batteries
that may not last through an exam period.
And, Fisher said, “the software requires a
working computer, and students can have
viruses and all this stuff on there. [The
computer] may not be working well.”
Students may be
relieved by experiences such as that of
It seems unlikely that Securexam
will replace blue books anytime soon.
Joe Lowman, who
has used Securexam
in his classes for several semesters and
has never had a lost
Some of the biggest obstacles have
nothing to do with software.
Not all classrooms are outfitted with
enough power outlets to accommodate
laptop batteries that may not last
better essays and
learn more,” said
Fisher also hopes Securexam will offer
through an exam period.
a version that incor-
porates formulas or
more math- and sci-
formats. The current
software only substi-
tutes for exams that
involve essays and
Securexam does not
yet allow professors
to enter their test
Lowman, who said that when incorporating new technology into his teaching, he
first asks whether it will benefit the students’ learning.
into the system — exam questions now
have to be handed out or written on a
But that does not necessarily mean the
program is a professor’s favorite. Lowman
said he has had some difficulties with
Securexam, especially since the company
frequently changes the software, even
multiple times throughout the semester.
Some changes have made the software less
user-friendly, he said, and have increased
his stress and time spent retrieving tests,
but he is still willing to use the program
because he believes students’ ability to
type responses — which, in his experience, produces better essays — outweighs
the inconvenience to him. But Lowman
thinks some faculty members who are not
That is one factor keeping Lowman
from going paperless. Not only must he
pass out test questions, he also must print
students’ exams to give feedback coordinated with their typed responses. There is
not yet a way for a professor to add comments without doing so by hand, on a
For professors such as Lowman, the
benefit to the student still outweighs extra
time and energy spent using the software.
When he didn’t use the software on his
first exams this semester, he said students
asked for it. And he especially appreciates
not having to interpret handwriting.
— Juliann Neher