HAN Ùniversity of Applied Sciences

How HAN University of Applied Sciences Scaled Digital Exams with BYOD


To expand the capacity of secure digital testing, HAN University of Applied Sciences has implemented Schoolyear Safe Exam Workspace. Harald de Vries is a senior advisor of ‘Learning with ICT’ at HAN and the project leader responsible for rolling out of this Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solution. Harald explains: "Schoolyear scores exceptionally high in user-friendliness. For teachers, it’s as simple as ticking a box. For students, the installation and startup process is streamlined and clear.”

Key takeaways

  • Significant expansion of digital test capacity
  • Proven technology, secure and flexible
  • Easy rollout, no logistical complexities

HAN University of Applied Sciences has five locations in Arnhem and Nijmegen and serves over 35,000 students. The educational programme is extensive, with courses organised in fourteen faculties, ranging from Engineering and Business to Health and Social Sciences. HAN is still growing and anticipates rapid growth in on-campus digital exams. With that comes an increasing demand for fraud prevention.

Securing academic integrity with solid fraud prevention

“We are mainly taking digital knowledge tests or summative knowledge tests,” Harald says. “Schoolyear Safe Exam Workspace was recommended to us by Fontys University of Applied Sciences.”

“The proven technology, the integration with our assessment platform Ans and above all the high level of fraud prevention, were decisive in our selection. Students are especially satisfied by the opportunity to use their own laptop. They really like that.”

“Proven technology, integration with our assessment platform and a high level of fraud prevention, were decisive in our selection.”

Before the introduction of Schoolyear, invigilators supervised digital tests at HAN by monitoring screens. It’s a method prone to error and susceptible for cheating. This approach is now history. By working on every device – managed or student-owned – Schoolyear offers an automated and locked workspace.

This ensures academic integrity at the highest level, across all digital tests and exams on campus.

"Schoolyear's security mechanisms are robust. It provides features and capabilities we didn't even know we required. It automatically clears the cache upon starting and closing the exam, blocks hotkeys, and detects virtual machines and remote desktop software, ensuring a secure testing environment," says Harald.

HAN has multiple locations spread over two cities. Transitioning to unmanaged devices enables individual faculties to scale the digital testing solution independently.

HAN found the flexibility and scalability it needed

HAN is a large Dutch educational institution in terms of students and programmes. However, it doesn’t have the large classrooms of other universities. Harald explains: “We’re limited to classrooms of around 35 seats. Setting up a testing room with PCs therefore needs to be organised in a flexible way. Bring Your Own Device offers that flexibility, with students bringing their own laptops.”

Scalability was another key requirement in the selection process. HAN has multiple locations spread over two cities, so logistics is an issue. Locking solutions for managed computers demand extensive IT support. Transitioning to unmanaged devices enables individual faculties to scale independently.

“Bring Your Own Device offers flexibility, with students bringing their own laptops. They really like that.”

Schoolyear’s Safe Exam Workspace won out over alternative solutions, such as managed Chromebooks and Bootable Linux USB sticks for BYOD. While these options were secure against fraud prevention, the rollout was too complex due to hardware setups and the extensive need for IT support.

From pilot to permanent deployment

To evaluate Schoolyear's capabilities, HAN referred to other institutions who had conducted independent third-party penetration tests. HAN initiated a pilot programme, conducting internal tests with IT staff and tech-savvy students. The aim of the pilot was to assess the security and efficacy of the platform. Processes were defined and facilities arranged, such as classrooms with solid Wi-Fi and enough power supply.

Harald: "All feedback from the references and the internal tests were positive, encouraging the project team to proceed with Schoolyear."

As back-up, in case of technical problems or for students who don't own a laptop, HAN decided to pursue with loaner laptops rather than maintaining rooms with fixed computers. HAN now manages a portfolio of loaner laptops, which covers 5% of the total amount of devices. This is a relatively large percentage and is based on the still growing amount of digital tests within the institution. These loaner devices need to be arranged, maintained and logistically managed over multiple locations. They require a level of attention that has to be considered.  

The advice Harald gives: "When starting with BYOD, don't instantly eliminate all managed computers. Rather, choose to phase out. Maintaining a small amount is very useful as back-up. During the introduction of a new way of working, it may take a while before all the information is made clear and students are fully up and running.

Phased rollout key to successful adoption

Schoolyear Safe Exam Workspace is seen as very user-friendly and easy to install. It’s also fast, integrates well and has good documentation available. HAN organised walk-in sessions to get students and teachers acquainted with the platform. There was also special training for administrators, who find the dashboard super straightforward.

Any device, managed or student-owned, can be converted into a temporary Safe Exam Workspace.

Key to the success of the adoption was the phased rollout. HAN started small, organising tests and gaining experience. Once staff better understood the product, it was a case of assigning responsibilities. The cycle was then repeated.

Recommended: digital testing with Schoolyear

Now any device, managed or student-owned, can be converted into a temporary Safe Exam Workspace at HAN. “We’re able run an unlimited number of exams, simultaneously. And already, in the first year of using Schoolyear, we conducted a digital exam with 950 students on campus.”

HAN University of Applied Sciences was able to significantly increase its digital exam capacity without hardware investments, additional IT resources or extra staffing. “I would recommend Schoolyear Safe Exam Workspace to other educational institutions,” says Harald. “Schoolyear is flexible, secure and scalable. And students love working on their own device.”

“We are making significant steps in our digital testing. Recently, Schoolyear built a solution that made it possible to do skills assessments with the use of extra applications, like Rstudio, Excel and Matlab. Before, this was only possible at managed computers. With this innovation, it’s now securely arranged with BYOD.”

Wim Graas
CEO Schoolyear

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