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Education Online Teaching for staff Exams

Online oral exams

Before deciding if you want to use online oral exams, please consider the benefits and challenges we listed below. At all times, try to keep the exam’s validity and reliability into consideration.

You can ask your students to give an online (group) presentation or have conversations with them individually. In both cases you can test their knowledge on a (sub)topic in your course. You can also use oral exams to supplement written exams by giving students the possibility to verbally explain or elaborate on what they have written.

For online oral exams, we recommend using Blackboard Collaborate, which is part of Nestor. More information on using Blackboard Collaborate.

Important information before you start

Always check with the Board of Examiners before making any changes to your exams and how they are administered!

Keep in mind that making changes to an exam can throw off your course’s alignment. Make sure that a new online exam tests the same cognitive levels (e.g. knowledge and insight, application or analysis, see Bloom’s taxonomy).

We also strongly recommend you consult with your colleagues, department, and faculty before finalizing any changes to your assessment structure, and make sure you meet the guidelines set by the exam committee.

Getting started

If you plan to have an online oral exam, please register at least five working days before the exam takes place in order for us to provide you with the right template exam course. If you want to schedule an exam, please contact your faculty scheduler .

Any questions on preparing the exam can be sent to digitaaltoetsen We will monitor this email inbox closely and respond as soon as possible. We expect the help pages and template exam courses to be sufficient to prepare the online exam yourself without further support during the exam. In case you experience difficulties during the exam, please inform digitaaltoetsen after the exam so that we can analyse the issues and adapt our procedures accordingly. We will continue to evaluate the level of support during this exam period.


There are two ways to administer online oral exams in Blackboard Collaborate.

Individual session method

The first option, individual sessions, is a bit more work to set up because you need to create an individual Collaborate session for each student. However, it does support recordings of a session which is required when there is only one examiner present.This session can then be uploaded for the second examiner so all quality requirements are met. Alternatively, if you do have 2 examiners available at the time of the session, both can join.

With the individual session method, a Collaborate session is prepared for each individual student. The link to access the session is only published to that student. In the session, all Collaborate functions are available, so the session can also be recorded for validation and safeguarding purposes.

Waiting room method

The second option, the waiting room method, is the easiest to set up. This option has no method to record the exam. Therefore only use this method if there are 2 or more examiners per student present so the Boards of Examiners can verify and safeguard the examination process. An alternative solution is to use your mobile phone for recording the session (just voice recording or video recording).

In the waiting room method you prepare one session that is accessible by all students of the course. Upon entering the session the student will arrive in the main room, which we will call the waiting room. Inside the session, there is also an exam office (breakout group) where a student is invited to when the student’s session is due to begin. Other students wait in the waiting room until they are invited into the exam office.

In the exam office the student can chat or speak with the examiners, show his webcam, or share powerpoint slides, documents or the computer screen.

Benefits of online oral exams

  1. Time: Oral exams do not have to be lengthy and do not require extensive grading time. Filling out a rubric during or right after the exam helps you reduce grading time.
  2. Authenticity: Oral exams are an authentic way to assess students online as you are seeing the student through the camera (you can ask them to show their ID card to verify the identity of the student).
  3. Group Size: Oral exams work well for smaller groups and in combination with other forms of testing. Online courses that offer a variety of (formative) testing can benefit from adding an oral exam.

Challenges of online oral exams

  1. Time: Oral exams can also be time consuming when they take longer or when you have more students. Try to structure them as much as possible (and communicate this to your students so they know what to expect) and stick to the time limit.
  2. Consistency: Every oral exam is different and it is especially hard to assess them fairly and consistently when you are co-teaching. Make sure you use a rubric and share this with your students beforehand. It is also smart to let them practice and give them feedback on this beforehand, if possible.
  3. Group Size: Oral exams might be too time consuming for (very) large groups.
  4. Plagiarism: Students may share the questions you asked with each other. Try to have a larger amount of questions available than you need for one individual student, in order to be able to pose different questions to students.
Last modified:08 June 2020 2.44 p.m.
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