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Universities are probably the biggest users of bring your own device (BYOD) in the world, since nowadays most students bring their own laptops or tablets to lectures. Students’ familiarity with the technologies, for study and daily tasks, mean it’s not just in lecture halls that we can see the impact of BYOD, but in examinations too, as students are now expecting to also use computers in exams rather than the traditional paper and pen.

Certainly as BYOD is becoming increasingly popular in universities, then exams on a BYOD basis are a natural progression where students sit an exam using their own laptop or tablet under invigilated conditions. Many universities are keen to adopt BYOD exams in order to avoid major investment in purchasing a device for each student that is only used for a short period of the year and may even be obsolete in a few years.

So the question of the moment for many higher education institutions is: Invest in equipment such as PCs, Macs or tablets or encourage students to bring their own devices?

From a students’ perspective they more than likely would prefer to use their own PC, laptop or tablet with which they are familiar. Although not all students may be able to afford the necessary hardware. And with many students already owning their own device this seems like an easy solutions for many universities with tight budgets.

However BYOD does have its own challenges compared to university owned devices e.g ensuring a stable and reliable wireless network and dedicated electrical sockets. It is also essential that the same minimal specification for devices is established, which makes a pure BYOD  exam where any device is permitted more challenging.

Disparate devices and operating systems mean a lockdown service to ensure fairness is essential as anything short of a complete lockdown must be tempting for the less than honest student! In addition, the variety of devices to support will inevitably lead to higher demand in tech support. Not forgetting that post exam the exam mode must then be removed from the student’s device.

The advantages of university owned devices are that compatibility is guaranteed. The environment and what software has been installed can be controlled. Ultimately however, there is no one size fits all and the decision will depend on the university and its needs. The advantage of choosing Speedwells eSystem is that it works on a wide range of hardware including tablets, smart phones, Windows PCs and Macs (iOS, Android, Windows, OS X). While our new eSystem Secure module provides a complete lockdown service, denying candidates access to their computer operating system and other applications.