Hosting an electronic exam
Using Knowledge Hub to host our first online exam
An interview with Louise Budge, Registration Training Manager at the National Records of Scotland, reveals how they use groups to help disseminate information, manage contact, and standardise how they communicate with local authorities.
How the National Records of Scotland use multiple groups in the Scottish Public Services Network on Knowledge Hub for registrars in Scotland to share information and take an online exam.
Communicating with Scottish council registration staff
After a meeting at which local authority managers said they used Knowledge Hub for their work, the National Records of Scotland training team decided to investigate Knowledge Hub as a possible vehicle to communicate with Scottish council registration staff working towards the ‘Certificate of Proficiency in the Law and Practice of Registration in Scotland’ exam.
We knew that Knowledge Hub was already being used as a secure collaboration tool by other government organisations, and so looked to use it as a place to share materials with candidates who were geographically dispersed around Scotland, and as a way to host our first electronic exam.
Using Knowledge Hub meant that we did not have to go through councils’ internal networks to share information, and what we did share via Knowledge Hub was accessible by all of the candidates involved, at work and at home.
Creating a trusted space for the online exam candidates
We set up one group first, the 2018 National Records of Scotland (NRS) Exam Study Group. This main group was used to bring all candidates together and share general information about the exam, test papers and revision materials. We had a lot of information to share and candidates were able to find what they were looking for quickly.
“Using Knowledge Hub meant that we did not have to go through councils’ internal networks to share information…”
We also set up another 40 groups, one for each participating candidate taking the exam. A candidate’s individual group hosted all the materials they needed, including marked question papers and sample answer papers. By providing a trusted space for each candidate, they were able to use their own group for their own work and communications with their managers. Managers were also able to visit the group and keep up to date with the candidate’s work and progress.
From the start of 2018, candidates were using their groups to practice using Knowledge Hub, and to share information. By March 2018 they were a lot more familiar with how the groups worked and what to expect on the day of the online exam.
How candidates used their group on exam day
“A place to share materials with candidates who were geographically dispersed around Scotland.”
The exam consists of 3 question papers and the first electronic sitting took place in November 2018. The Clerk to the Exam Board set up three groups – one for each exam paper. The day before the exam, all three password-protected exam papers were uploaded to the group library.
On exam day, an invigilator sat with the candidate. Five minutes before the start of each paper, the invigilator gave the candidate the password to access the exam paper and they stayed with the candidate while they took the exam. Candidates were allowed 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete each paper. The candidate downloaded the exam paper from the group’s library, saved it on the computer, sat the exam and then uploaded the completed exam paper back into the group’s library. After each paper was submitted, the Clerk to the Exam Board removed the candidate’s membership from the group to prevent them re-accessing completed papers.
“A major benefit of using Knowledge Hub is that it saves both time and money for local authorities.”
Saving time and money for local authorities
A major benefit of using Knowledge Hub is that it saves both time and money for local authorities. We have also made savings by not having to print and send materials through the postal service.
Prior to using Knowledge Hub, exam papers were handwritten and candidates had to travel to Edinburgh or Glasgow to take the exam. Being geographically dispersed, this involved high travel costs for many councils and meant that candidates sometimes had to take a lot of time out of their working week. Now, using Knowledge Hub, the candidate can sit the exam at a location convenient to their council.
“Knowledge Hub has been really useful in helping us to communicate the same messages to all candidates, quickly and easily.”
Exam setters have found that having typed answers papers, and being able to access them online, makes marking the exam quicker and easier. Knowledge Hub has been really useful in helping us to communicate the same messages to all candidates, quickly and easily. It’s been an interesting experience personally where I have learnt new skills for managing online groups.