Introduction to the Digital Learning Center Exam Commons
The Digital Learning Center Exam Commons provides a large-scale, web-based assessment service for instructors in the Adele Coryell Hall Learning Commons. There is an on-site manager, as well as student workers who provide front-desk services for the student users. There are 174 computers available for testing. More information about the Exam Commons is available at http://dlc.unl.edu.
The Exam Commons strives to be as user-friendly, technologically intuitive, and distraction-free as possible for students. All testing times are pre-scheduled by students in advance. All students are responsible for self sign-up and early sign-up is recommended.
Faculty Usage Checklist
Instructors wishing to make use of the Digital Learning Center Exam Commons should completely familiarize themselves with the policies in this document. In particular, instructors should take note of the following items:
- Instructors are responsible for setting up their online tests in the platform of their choice. Currently, we support Blackboard tests, Canvas quizzes, and MapleTA assignments for academic course testing. We also support WeBWorK and the ETS Major Field Test on a smaller scale. You may contact the administrative staff if you have questions about utilizing these platforms.
- When setting up your test for the Exam Commons, ensure that the "UNL Testing Centers" IP restriction is selected to ensure security. The Exam Commons uses IP-based location restriction instead of passwords for test security, so this is a very important step which must be taken to safeguard the confidentiality of your exam. Instructors may access detailed documentation about how to restrict access with these settings at https://its.unl.edu/dlc/instructors.
- The "UNL Testing Centers" filter includes the IPs of the computers in the DLC Exam Commons and the SSD (Services for Students with Disabilities) Testing Center. If an instructor has students who need to test in a different location than these two pre-set options (e.g. distance students testing in other states, etc.), he or she must create a separate copy of the exam. Rather than using the "UNL Testing Centers" filter for this copy, it is recommended that the instructor utilize an alternate exam restriction method such as password protection.
- Starting 45 days prior to the start of a new term, exam requests may be submitted for that term. It is recommended that instructors submit exam requests as early as possible so that their desire testing dates are still available in the reservation portal (http://dlc-reserve.unl.edu).
- Provided that space is available, instructors can submit exam requests up to two weeks before the desired start date of testing.
- When a reservation is made for a day of testing, it is made for that "full day" only. The Exam Commons cannot accommodate partial days of testing by having student sign-up end at specific times for specific courses.
- Here are the most important rules for UNL student testers:
- Sign-up for a testing timeslot (no walk-ins accepted)
- Bring their N-Card for their test (no other forms of ID accepted)
- Students may start the check-in process up to 15 minutes before their scheduled start time. Students will only be allowed to check-in up to 15 minutes after their scheduled start time.
- The Exam Commons uses a URLs Blocked list on its security software which prevents students from accessing many websites that are common choices for academic dishonesty. This software is constantly monitored by staff members to ensure academic honesty.
- In the event than an instructor cannot be reached, Exam Commons staff reserves the right to edit exam settings like links, visibility, etc. to reduce interruptions to student testing.
- The Exam Commons will allow exam requests which include a single sheet of student-created notes as an “Approved Material.” A single sheet of student-created notes can include one or both sides of a piece of paper 8 ½” by 11” or any standard note card size. The size and specifications must be included in the approved material section (e.g., 3x5 note card one side or 8x11 note sheet both sides). The student must bring this item in and present it at check-in for visual inspection. The Exam Commons will then collect the note card or sheet at check-out to be disposed of along with the student’s scratch paper. Though the Exam Commons can facilitate requests that include a singular student-created note sheet, the Exam Commons cannot currently facilitate requests that include open book/ open note testing.
- Requests to have an entire class test at one sitting are not allowed. Only one attempt per student per day is allowed.
Requesting Usage – All instructors planning to make use of the Digital Learning Center Exam Commons are required to submit an Exam Request for approval at least two weeks prior to the start of testing. Instructors will be able to start submitting exam requests for the upcoming term 45 days prior to the start of term date. Exam requests will be for "full days" of testing only; we cannot accommodate partial-day testing reservations. The form will request the desired test dates and indicate all contact information and testing needs. This documentation will allow us to plan for needed increases in resources and student staffing.
The calendar portion of this form uses a percentage threshold of available testing space to indicate how busy the DLC will be on a given day. Days which appear as green are predicted to be less than 50% full, days which appear yellow are predicted to be between 50% and 75% full, and days which appear red are predicted to be more than 75% full. If the Exam Commons is predicted to be full to capacity on a certain day, that day will appear as "grayed out" on the calendar. Although it may be necessary for minor changes to be made to a request, ultimately the request will likely be approved if space is available.
Requesting Usage Changes – If an instructor needs to change a test date, he or she must request a change at least 48 hours in advance of the change by contacting a Digital Learning Center administrative staff member. Instructors cannot make changes to previously approved requests directly on the reservation site. Since the Exam Commons' testing calendar begins filling up from the start of the semester, we cannot guarantee that all desired changes can be made. While it is somewhat likely that there may not be adequate space for larger classes to make date changes during the semester, changes will be approved if space is available.
Other notes about usage requests:
- Usage Request Forms are presently approved on a first-come first-served basis.
- Tests are limited to two hours.
- Requests to have an entire class at one sitting are not allowed.
- Only one attempt per test per student per day is allowed.
Requesting Make-Up Exams – Instructors also have the option to schedule make-up exams for students by following the "Schedule a Make-Up" link on the DLC's Exam Scheduling page. Instructors will also be expected to have made make-up exams functional and available by the time the student arrives for testing.
Regarding Final Exams – Exam windows are required to encompass the date scheduled for the final exam in the Schedule of Classes and should start no earlier than the Saturday after the Fifteenth Week, immediately before the start of Final Exam Week. It is the responsibility of instructors to comply with all University Fifteenth Week and Finals Exam Week policies, which are available for review at http://stuafs.unl.edu/sa_policies_deadweek.shtml.
Examination Format – The Digital Learning Center administers computer-generated exams by way of the following testing platforms:
- MapleTA assessments in the assignment mode called “Homework/Quiz" with the IP address group "UNL Testing Centers" selected. If you need technical support while creating your MapleTA assignments, please call 402-472-9305 for assistance.
- Canvas assessments in the assignment mode called "Quizzes," with filter IP addresses and then "UNL Testing Centers" selected. In the "Quiz Restrictions," the selection box for "Require an access code" should be deselected. If you are creating your Canvas Exams and need technical support, please call 402-4723970 for assistance.
- Blackboard assessments in the assignment mode called "Tests," with the IP address group "UNL Testing Centers" selected. In the "Test Options," the selection box for "Password" should be deselected. If you are creating your Blackboard Exams and need technical support, please call 402-472-3970 for assistance.
We also support WeBWorK and the ETS Major Field Test on a smaller scale, for specific and pre-approved courses, departments, and colleges. The "UNL Testing Centers" IP address group includes IP addresses for both the DLC Exam Commons and the Services for Students with Disabilities Testing Center in Canfield. Both testing locations are covered by way of this over-arching "UNL Testing Centers" filter.
Expectations of Instructors
- Instructors will be members of the Digital Learning Center listserv to promote efficient communication should any new information regarding policies develop.
- Instructors will submit an Exam Request for each exam at least two weeks prior to testing. Requests will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis. Requests will not be approved if space is not available.
- Instructors will be sufficiently familiar with their testing platform of choice to be able to create their own tests in accordance with the policies stated above.
- Test aids, tables, and all external content must be made available through links or embedded within the testing platform. To maintain test security, DLC administrative staff keeps a current whitelist of approved websites for this type of content. Instructors may contact a DLC administrator for more information about the sites on this whitelist, and/or in case new content sites must be added.
- Academic course testing is our main priority (e.g. quizzes, unit tests, midterms, and finals), but we can also accommodate most other alternately-focused testing needs (such as research-based testing or program preparation testing) as long as the testing is tied to an academic course and utilizes one of our pre-approved testing platforms. Instructors who have this type of testing need and would like to administer their testing through the Exam Commons may be asked to select testing dates which avoid peak usage times for academic course testing (e.g. avoiding dates near Fall Break and Spring Break, and finals week of each semester).
- Both beginner and advanced training materials are available at https://its.unl.edu/dlc/
- In the event that an exam's link, settings or accessibility has been set up incorrectly and an instructor cannot be reached, DLC administrative staff may make edits to make the student's exam available. Edits will not be made to exam content. The Digital Learning Center is granted permission to edit testing platform links and availability settings when an instructor agrees to these DLC policies (a required part of the exam request process). Since instructors are often busy teaching classes when issues like this happen, this pre-authorization allows student testers to remain uninterrupted.
Security Measures in the Exam Commons
To ensure test security, the Exam Commons maintains several security standards. The student staff at the front-desk constantly monitors screen-viewing software and video surveillance footage during all hours of operation. In the event that an academic dishonesty situation is retrospectively suspected by an instructor, student scratch paper is retained for two weeks after testing; this scratch paper can be pulled upon instructor request. The Exam Commons can also pull specific surveillance footage from the past 30 days from the UNL Police Department, also upon instructor request. Test-takers will also have their picture taken via webcam before they start their exam. These pictures are stored for one year on ITS servers, and can also be pulled upon instructor request if there is an identity concern.
Exam Verification at the Digital Learning Center
Digital Learning Center staff will conduct a thorough beta-testing of exams (looking for software compatibility problems and missing plugins) in the case that an instructor is employing technology that is not commonly used in the facility (e.g., a music exam that contains audio samples).
Additionally, as a courtesy we will beta-test exams upon instructor request. Such requests must be made by e-mail and assume that all of the following conditions are met:
- the exam to be beta-tested has already been created
- the instructor (or instructional designer) has already done their own beta-testing of the exam
- the request is received more than 48 hours in advance of the exam going live
Digital Learning Center staff will communicate any detected deficiencies to the instructor as soon as they are identified and contribute to the solution of these deficiencies.