New system to help students schedule accommodated exams

A new enterprise is in production at the Resource Centre for Students with a Disability (RCSD). The system, named Clockwork, is a database that will allow students with disabilities to more easily set up an alternative method for taking exams. Currently, the process in place for accommodated exams is a written memo system. “Students who are registered with the RCSD, and who are eligible for accommodated exams, such as receiving extra time in which to complete, or using a computer with word processor, would normally be required to pick up exam forms, have the instructor fill it in, and return it to the RCSD,” said Laurie Keenan, manager of disability services with the RCSD, in an email. The step-by-step process requires students to pick up introduction memos from the RCSD, take the memos to their instructors, fill in an exam form for each course, and return these forms to the RCSD at least two weeks before their first scheduled exam. After that, they must pick up a confirmation copy of the exam form from the RCSD before the exam dates. Clockwork will simplify this process. According to Keenan, once it is in place, students will be able to log in to a secure web portal and view the memos as well as share them with their instructors. They will be able to book their exams through the system, to be written at the RCSD exam centre. On the other end of things, instructors will also be able to log in to the portal and enter test and exam details for each student who needs to write an accommodated exam. “The RCSD needs an information management system that is appropriate to co-ordinate and improve confidential services provided to the growing registration of students (currently approximately 1 100) and the complexity of these required services,” wrote Keenan. Keenan says the RCSD had certain criteria that they were looking for in the system. They wanted something that was easily accessible to users of assistive technology and customizable for use by students, professors, managers, advisors, exam co-ordination staff and evening invigilators. “Currently, information used to provide RCSD services is produced and stored in a variety of locations, formats, and methods.  We wanted one simple interface,” said Keenan. The RCSD wanted to move away from booking appointments over the phone, through email, in person or through Outlook. They are working toward setting up appointments through online booking with an advisor. The idea is to try to move everything to an online format, so memos don’t need to be printed out for each student every term. An additional benefit of Clockwork is for the RCSD advisors, according to Keenan. Currently, advisors need to double check enrolment and contact data for each student, to keep it up to date. Clockwork, however, will sync student information into the system, so it will be available to advisors. “Specialized exam invigilation involves approximately 6 500 exams per year in specific rooms, seats, and in many cases with specific computers, specialized equipment, software and furniture,” said Keenan. Clockwork will aid in these specific setups by providing a database of specialized equipment and locations of that equipment which is integrated with the electronic booking system, rather than the current setup, which required such things to be checked manually. Work on Clockwork began in August of 2012. The RCSD is currently using the system to manually book appointments and generate memos, and hopes to have the online test booking and memos system up and running by summer 2014.

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