This story is from the category Innovation and the dossier Community

Safe Exam Browser: encouraging response

The Safe Exam Browser makes it possible to hold secure online exams in conjunction with learning management systems. Through its long-standing commitment to this open-source project, SWITCH is playing an important part in the further development of e-assessment technologies and their broad adoption by universities.

Text: Guido Biland, published on 27.06.2017

The Safe Exam Browser (SEB), an online exam tool that switches computers into a secure exam mode, is being adopted by more and more universities because it is so flexible and easy to use. The first exam to be conducted successfully using the SEB took place on 8 January 2009 in the computing labs at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. ETH Zurich has played a major role in driving the further development of this open-source project. The software is now in use at 18 Swiss universities.

New consortium guarantees ongoing development and support

SWITCH has been highly committed to promoting and coordinating innovations in e-learning and e-assessment for many years. Groundbreaking ideas and projects are created in the e-learning community eduhub.ch, formed by SWITCH in 2008. SWITCH supported the SEB’s development from the outset with funding from its projects AAA/SWITCH – e-Infrastructure for e-Science (2009-2013) and Learning Infrastructure (2014). The community’s growing interest and the resulting challenges prompted it to step in again in 2016. Funding for continued development had to be placed on a broader footing and secured for the next few years, and it was important to ensure that the community’s calls for new features could be systematically recorded and fed into development efforts in line with transparent rules. Backed up by commitments from 17 universities, SWITCH joined forces with ETH Zurich to form the Safe Exam Browser Consortium (SEBC) on 7 July 2016.

The two Principal Members contribute most to development. ETH Zurich is responsible for engineering, while SWITCH manages the consortium. Several levels of membership are open to private and public education institutions, foundations, government agencies and companies throughout Europe. New members are always welcomed as they help to ensure that the project can be funded sustainably. SWITCH has pledged financial support for a period of three years. For more information, see safeexambrowser.org.

Involving the community

Anyone can use the software free of charge. SEBC members contribute to development in line with their membership status. Generally speaking, those that provide more money have more influence. SWITCH’s membership means that all Swiss universities automatically have silver status. SWITCH has tasked the eduhub.ch Special Interest Group (SIG) e-Assessment with collating Swiss universities’ interests, prioritising them as an expert committee and bringing the results to the SEBC Board. The SIG thus performs the function of Principal Member on SWITCH’s behalf. All Swiss universities that have provided a letter of intent are entitled to vote on priority development goals at the SIG’s meetings. The SIG also organises two e-assessment workshops a year.

Contact

Nathalie Roth
Consortium Manager
Safe Exam Browser Consortium

Download

The current versions of the Safe Exam Browser for Windows, Mac OS and iOS can be downloaded from the website safeexambrowser.org, operated by the ETH’s Educational Development and Technology department. Plugins are available for connecting to the learning management systems Moodle and ILIAS.

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