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Take an Exam in Your Underwear? Not This Time

Well, it worked in March. Due to the success of last March’s Negotiations final for the September Cohort students, which was held on the March 5, the day Boston was blanketed with 10 inches of snow, the Negotiations faculty decided to give the Januaries the same opportunity to take their exam in their underwear.

Unfortunately, there were a few glitches. At 8:30 a.m., a substantial majority of students attempted to access the exam from the course platform, but the link did not work. “A relatively simple error was made in setting the timers for opening the link, but it took a while to identify and correct the problem,” said Professor Mike Wheeler, the Negotiations course head. The problem was ultimately resolved around 9:10 a.m., when the link was fixed. An announcement was placed on the course platform providing students an additional 45 minutes to take the exam.

In the meantime, a number of students planning to take the test at home rushed to campus to get a copy of the test. They arrived at Aldrich to discover that the building’s fire alarm had been tripped at around 9:15 a.m. All those taking the exam in Aldrich had to evacuate the building for approximately 20 minutes before they were allowed to return to finish.
The negotiations faculty apologized for the disruptions. “Yesterday’s computer problems were frustrating to everyone, I know. My colleagues and I really appreciate the patience that folks in the January cohort showed while things were getting sorted out,” said Wheeler.

The use of the course platform for exam distribution is an excellent idea, based on interviews with students. “The concept of taking the exam at home and bringing it in is very attractive,” said Dionne Hosten, NH. The technology still needs to be perfected, however.

“Notwithstanding this experience, I hope we can use this technology in the future,” Wheeler said. “I’ve asked the IT department to see if we can develop some sort of double-check technology or procedures to make sure in advance that links have been properly set and will open as scheduled.”

June 18, 2001
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