What is the Meaning of Paperless Exams?
One of the most noticeable results of digitising your exam and assessment process is that the process becomes paperless, which essentially means that all information processes such as letters and printouts are replaced with a digital alternative. Nearly all businesses and government institutions are currently becoming paperless – and with good reason.
The first reason might be somewhat obvious: paperless processes save money. Unsurprisingly, sending information by email is quite a bit cheaper than printing and posting it through postal services.
But, using paper has both a significant environmental impact and some rather notable security flaws for the purpose of high-stakes events, such as exams.
Paper as an Environmental Factor
Disposable paper has become a very cheap commodity for most of the world, which has led to a massive consumption of paper products of all kinds – not least printing paper.
A large portion of the paper industry is trying to make their production more environmentally friendly through initiatives such as recycling paper pulp, limiting greenhouse gas emissions and using sustainably sourced wood fibre. Nevertheless, the process of making, transporting and consuming paper is inherently unfavourable towards the environment.
Paperless Exams are Safer
Paper has been used as a method to archive and transfer information for millennia; from the scrolls written by the scholars of the ancient world to the filing cabinets of the 20th century with their thousands upon thousands of folders of paper. But, being the first does not mean being the best.
While paper has is merits, it certainly has its flaws too. The very things that make paper so usable – cheap materials and small size – become its pitfalls. Paper sheets are easily destroyed by everything from fire to a spilled cup of coffee; and they are even easier to lose or misplace.
With storage solutions like cloud-hosting, your files are kept much more secure than in physical form. Even though you might think that something physical and palpable is the safer approach, cloud-hosting important data is the way to go today.
With a triple redundant server setup you are protected from loss of data and through scalable server usage, you get lower maintenance costs without compromising on your large-scale needs.
Limitless Storage of Data
One major disadvantage of paper is the simple fact that it tends to pile up quickly. By keeping your important information online, you save an incredible amount of physical space at your institution. Most institutions operate with rules on storage of information, governing how long specific information is to be kept. A Danish example is the ‘Bookkeeping law’, requiring all companies to store all accountancy information for 5 years, which can entail a surreal amount of paper for companies using physical document storage.
For universities and other institutions of higher education, many other documents are to be kept for years, such as exams. Storing them online can for some institutions free entire storage rooms, which can then be used for other purposes. By storing information in the cloud, institutions also operate with a storage facility with virtually limitless storage capabilities.
Easier Transfer of Information
Paper seems an easy way to transfer information. Simply pick up a piece of paper, take a stroll down the hall and pass it on to your colleague. But what if it is thousands of papers? The process becomes cumbersome and some papers are almost guaranteed to get lost at some point. Especially, if processing the paper involves several steps, such as in a typical assessment process.
Documents stored online are transferred even easier. Simply find them in your file management system and download them. If the papers are for your colleague mentioned above, you do not even have to download the file. Simply send a link. And no matter how many thousands of files you operate with, none will be lost, since all copies or links trace back to the same static file position in the system.
And lastly, keeping your important information in the cloud does not mean that paper is no longer a possibility. If you want to read something on paper, just hit print, and you have your trusty old A4 sheet back in your hand again. A switch to a paperless exam and assessment system simply means that you no longer need to use paper.