Wageningen University & Research

Flexible use of campus space with BYOD


Investing in fixed PCs is no longer necessary. Instead, following a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach means better laptops, support and modern facilities Wageningen University & Research (WUR) discovered. Gerard Folkerts, product owner of digital assessments and examinations, explains: “Schoolyear has made large-scale digital testing possible on student laptops. We increased teacher satisfaction and elevated their work by eliminating handwriting deciphering and variations in exam material.”

Key takeaways

  • Supports flexible education
  • No fuss with logistics
  • Easy to upscale

WUR, which already has a long history of carrying out digital exams using fixed PCs, has now made the step to BYOD. This prestigious university specialises in life sciences and environmental research, with a focus on sustainability and global challenges. It has over 12,500 students from around 100 nationalities.

Schoolyear best solution after thorough evaluation

Gerard goes on to say:

“We were looking for a solution to apply fraud prevention in a flexible way. Our university had already adopted the policy for students to use their own devices in education. Now we needed a solution for digital testing.

We thoroughly evaluated all the applications available, like Safe Exam Browser, but that didn’t pass the pen test, while USB sticks brought with them logistical problems with handing and taking in. We found that Schoolyear was the most flexible and reliable in providing the solution needed: administering exams effectively. We started a pilot with 50 students during retakes in August.

By September, Schoolyear was integrated into our ANS assessment platform. Soon 5,000 students started doing their exams following this new mode of operation. Initially, we began with a limited number of courses. However, the demand quickly grew to such an extent that we rapidly scaled up and implemented it more broadly."

Meeting expectations and advantages of digital testing

By using Schoolyear, WUR meets the Government’s expectations regarding safe digital examination. The teachers were also in favour:

“They had discovered the advantages of BYOD and digital testing and did not want to go back to paper, which also doesn’t align with the green image of Wageningen,”

“Whilst teachers wanted more variation in their teaching, for example using the computer, having a theoretical lecture and an interactive session all within one class, rooms with fixed PCs can’t be used for any other purpose. With BYOD we can now use the space more flexibly.”

Teachers can also create question formats that are not possible on paper. With some courses, we have groups of over 300 students. Digital exams allow teachers to review digitally, which works much faster. Digital testing has a large number of benefits for teachers and students.

Choose your pace for implementing

WUR switched to using Schoolyear within two months. The university is built around only one faculty and with very little hierarchy. This speeded up the process. All stakeholders were part of the project team and were able to take decisions. The student council was also involved.

However, Gerard advises not moving too fast:

“We had difficulty getting enough people to support the roll out. They had to work long hours and there was a high demand on them. It became too much of a rush. I’d recommend a slower pace.”

When administering digital exams through a BYOD approach, it's crucial to consider that students' personal devices may not always meet the technical requirements and might encounter issues. Therefore, having backup options like Chromebooks or Managed PCs is essential.

"We have consciously chosen to implement Schoolyear on managed PCs as well, to provide a consistent experience for the student."

Walk-in sessions continued

Before each exam period we organise walk-in sessions. These are completely voluntary. Students who want to come, can do so, and ask questions. It helps a lot and contributes to students feeling more relaxed before starting the exams. They can do a laptop check as well.

The quality of the laptops that students bring is varied. Most, especially first-year students, have generally good laptops. We also see many laptops in other languages, Asian languages, Hebrew or Arabic. Therefore we asked students to make sure they have English language available in Windows.

Adding skills assessments in Schoolyear

"I think Schoolyear is currently the only solution for fraud prevention that doesn’t make use of external devices or require a browser plug-in. Another advantage, is the additional threat analysis in the background. We found a trusted partner in Schoolyear. We feel able to discuss challenges we face and that problems are always solved swiftly."

Gerard describes the next stage: “Now that we’ve built a good relationship with Schoolyear and its trained experts, the next step will be to make authentic testing possible. For example, working with data sets using other software. Currently, we only do that with our fixed computers. But as we develop these possibilities that would be a big step forward.

Update: Following feedback from our customers, Schoolyear has added the possibility to conduct exams with desktop applications. The WUR now successfully uses R studio and Excel to conduct skills assessment together with Schoolyear.

Wim Graas
CEO Schoolyear

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Wageningen University & Research sought a flexible solution for fraud prevention during exams administered on students' own laptops. Schoolyear allows us to utilize our educational spaces more flexibly and reduce the need for fixed PC rooms.

Gerard Folkerts
Product Owner Digital Assessments

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Protect academic integrity with Schoolyear

Our experts are ready to help you explore the benefits of Schoolyear.