Setting Exams in Blackboard (MOLE)

Exams have been taking place in Blackboard (MOLE) for a number of years now, however we now have a fully supported process provided by the Exams Team and the Digital Learning Team which takes the workload of arranging and supporting the exam off the department and brings it into line with the normal written exams process.

Exams are based on using the Blackboard test tool, which is regularly used as part of regular teaching activity throughout a module, but this doesn’t mean that all Blackboard tests have to be run as an exam. University regulations say that ‘an exam is summative work under invigilated conditions in line with the general regulations as to examinations’, so if the Blackboard test can be classified in this way it should be treated as an exam and follow the proper procedures.

It may well be the case that the Blackboard test will contribute to a student’s final grade and will be running under exam-like conditions, but isn’t classed as an exam. If this is the case, the full exams procedure doesn’t need to be followed, however the high stakes test process needs to be used in this case to ensure that we can provide suitable support.

Exam Procedure

All exams should be initially requested via the Exams Team as the process is the same for a paper based exam. If the department has never run an exam before then the Exams Team will put them in contact with us for pedagogical and technical support around building the Blackboard test that will be used for the exam. If the department is experienced, then they simply need to build the test in Blackboard and wait for the confirmation for the exam schedule, then let us know. We will deploy the test in the course ensuring the configuration of the settings are correct. This means that the Chief Invigilator running the exam on the day does not get any unexpected surprises in the room the exam is being held. Any changes that need to be made to the test after this has happened must be confirmed with us, to ensure that it hasn’t altered any of the settings, as this can causes issues on the day.

On the day of the exam, we offer full support but we no longer routinely attend the room, as Blackboard is much more robust and we find we are not needed in the room most of the time now. The Chief Invigilators have a direct line to us for support, and we can be in the room in a few minutes if we are unable to resolve the problem over the phone.
This procedure is fully detailed in a document available via the Exams Team web page (requires a UoS login).

High Stakes Tests Procedure

For tests that don’t meet the criteria for a full exam but will still be running in a similar configuration, the Exams Team won’t handle the administration of the exam, so rooms, invigilators, and other requirements remain the responsibility of the department. The specific exam technical support the Digital Learning Team offer (for example we can’t guarantee being able to get someone to the room as quickly as we would for an exam) is also not available, however, the Digital Learning Team can, and will, still be able to support these higher stake tests, providing we receive the following information with as much notice as possible:

  • When is the test happening?
  • Where is it happening?
  • How many students are taking it?
  • Which Blackboard course is it in?
  • Which test is being used?

If we have this information, we can do our best to ensure that it runs smoothly on the day and should any problems arise will do our best to resolve them.

For further information you can email the Exams Team or the Digital Learning Team.