Several factors must be considered to make a successful transition to online testing to ensure that the evaluation remains relevant to the objectives and context. The evaluations usually done in class can be difficult to transpose from their original form into a digital format that can be taken remotely. It is necessary to distinguish between the function and the approach being pursued and to provide adequate mechanisms to address the notions of plagiarism, feedback, and the management of individual accommodations.

It will then be possible to use digital technology to design, manage and grade online assessments. Still, it is important to choose the most appropriate tool to meet your needs!

Mastery of the following steps will ensure a successful transition to digital exams whether taken in class or remotely:

  1. Determine the desired objective
  2. Choose an exam format that is adapted to the desired goal
  3. Provide feedback mechanisms
  4. Define the notion of plagiarism and establish It
  5. Manage special needs
  6. Choose the right digital tool

From proof design to copy correction, Nexam offers features that provide flexibility. The transition to online evaluations is possible without compromising quality and integrity.

Step 1: Determine the Evaluation Objectives 

Digital technology offers a wide range of possibilities when choosing an exam format. The choice of evaluation must first address the function (what to evaluate) and then determine the approach (how to do it).

There are different purposes for which to evaluate, whether to diagnose, assess learning or certify. Given that the objectives behind the assessment are variable, it is important to clarify them before focusing on the exam format.

Analysis: The analysis (or orientation) function assesses the knowledge base in order to develop a picture of the candidate’s and the group’s situation. For example, a placement test at the beginning of the session or the completion of end-of-chapter quizzes can meet this objective.

Formation: The formative (or evaluation) function aims to assess the progress of the candidate and the group to determine what has been learned and what opportunities exist for improvement. This can be a self-assessment, facilitated discussions, or collaborative teamwork that provides feedback. In this context, digital technologies offer a diverse range of options creating a real opportunity for dialogue with the learner.

Certification: This function is used to assess mastery of the targeted objectives to certify that the goals have been achieved. A final written exam that counts for 40% of the overall grade is a good example. Membership in a regulated profession would also be an example of a certification assessment.

Once the evaluation function has been determined, the next step is to consider the approach to be used to select an appropriate exam format.

Step 2: Choose an Exam Format Adapted to the Objectives

When determining how to evaluate learning, three types of approaches can be taken: summative, descriptive, and hermeneutic. (From Ketele, 2010) [1]

Summative: This approach consists of creating a portrait of the objectives achieved using scores, ratings and numerical results that can be weighted. On the Nexam platform, evaluations can take different forms:

  • Mixed questions exam (multiple-choice, true or false)
  • Essay writing
  • Tables completion
  • Asynchronous oral communication

Descriptive: Descriptive assessments allow for the analysis of more complex skills or other knowledge levels such as analysis, practical application, and synthesis (Monney 2020) [2]. To achieve this, Nexam offers different formats that can be used:

  • Open-ended questions
  • Case studies
  • Oral presentations
  • On-screen video response; allows recording of a specific task to be completed by the student

Hermeneutics: This approach establishes a global picture of complex skill development and cognitive levels using the information to decide. The possible evaluation options on Nexam can take the form of:

  • Internship reports
  • Portfolios
  • Asynchronous interviews

Formative or summative evaluations should include feedback to help candidates understand their errors and integrate the concepts. The availability and depth of the input is a powerful learning tool, as presented in the next step.

Step 3: Determine the Type of Feedback to Provide

Regardless of the assessment function (analysis, formative, or summative), feedback is intended to inform about progress, confirm learning, and identify opportunities for improvement. Digital feedback can be provided orally, using audio or video clips, or in writing, using comments, annotated correction grids, or images and diagrams. The type of feedback provided by the grader can have a significant impact on learning. In fact, audio and video feedback have the potential to promote learner motivation and perseverance (Faccin 2017) [3]. Feedback can be obtained immediately, for example, using a self-correcting quiz, or be delayed depending on the type of correction. Many tools facilitate receiving rapid feedback on Nexam:

  • Peer feedback to encourage discussion and collaboration
  • Self-evaluation by sharing the answers or the approach to be taken
  • Automatic correction
  • Automatic comments

Other tools provide detailed feedback but require more time on the part of the grader:

  • Detailed, competency-based correction grids
  • Annotations added directly to the exam

The type of feedback to be provided should be carefully analyzed when planning a digital exam.

Step 4: Prevent and Manage Cases of Plagiarism

Because of the lower level of interaction and sense of isolation that a remote assessment can generate in a candidate, academic misconduct could be perceived as easier to commit and more likely to occur. However, several studies show that the level of plagiarism and cheating is the same whether the evaluations are done in class or remotely. (Tolman 2017) [4]


Academic offences may include but are not limited to unauthorized access to test questions and answers, test-taker substitution, collusion, and plagiarism. Plagiarism refers to the practice of using the work or ideas of others without giving them due credit. (Simongot, 2014) [5]. Cheating refers to using external resources to obtain assistance in an evaluation context when it is not permitted.

The causes of plagiarism can be many, such as a lack of preparation, pressure, stress, or perceived absence of consequences. In addition, this behaviour may be intentional, as it may result from misunderstanding what constitutes cheating on an exam.


The lack of clear rules surrounding academic offences, the application of sanctions, and the impact of such behaviour can contribute to academic dishonesty. Communication and dissemination of the rules of conduct in the form of presentations, reminders, explanatory clips, and written pledges help combat plagiarism. Some good practices to consider:

  • Ethics training
  • Stress management tools
  • Research methods and source citation training
  • Providing concrete examples of good and bad practices

On the Nexam online exam platform, all evaluations begin with the student or candidate accepting the instructions. They must also agree to the “Integrity Statement” to start the digital exam.


With the Nexam platform, various tools and means can be used to monitor and detect misconduct in an examination context:

  • Enable video monitoring via webcam capture to verify the actual test-taking environment
  • Utiliser l’outil d’identification de l’identité pour prévenir les substitutions de personnes durant l’examen
  • Enable screen capture surveillance to check the computer test-taking environment
  • Activate the similarity detection tool to compare different content
  • Deploy the random mode on the question or question block layouts
  • Create different versions of the same exam
  • Restrict test-taking time to avoid resource consultation
  • Vary the types of activities and evaluation formats

Using innovative web technologies, test-taking conduct can be analyzed from screen and camera feeds captured on Nexam, all without any inconvenience for the candidate. Online evaluations can then collect a larger amount of data related to potential cheating cases to improve their detection. Targeted anomalies can then be reported to the test manager who can rely on the data for evidence.

Beyond the tools and means of control, an evaluation can be designed to personalize the analysis and mobilize complex skills thereby limiting the risk of plagiarism. These evaluations can take the form of an oral presentation by means of a video recording, writing an essay or creating an achievement portfolio.


Unfortunately, prevention and control measures cannot guarantee the elimination of academic offences. Following the detection of unauthorized conduct, the consequences foreseen and communicated to the candidate in advance must be implemented if they are in effect. All organizations have different policies, regulations and procedures that provide for various types of sanctions. Warnings, retakes, suspensions, expulsions … these consequences must be planned for as part of the transition to online testing.

Step 5: Consider Individual Accommodations

The enrollment rate of students with disabilities increased from 9% to 22% between 2019 and 2020 at Canadian universities. The correlation between academic achievement and having a disability is significant, according to the studies (Parsons 2021). Disability situations may include but are not limited to physical and learning disabilities and mental health issues. [6] Several accommodations can be made in an examination setting:

  • Additional time for taking a test
  • Access to external technological resources (proofreaders, e-readers, etc.)
  • Access to a support person
  • Use of notes
  • Video response

The digital divide must also be considered when transitioning to online testing. Not all learners have the same access to technology, equipment, and an environment conducive to taking an online exam if completed remotely. Alternatives should be offered to reduce inequality. Providing computer equipment and premises with internet connections are just some examples of practices that can be implemented. Nexam helps to reduce this digital divide.

  • The use of Nexam does not require any downloading
  • Nexam works with a standard internet connection

Step 6: Choose the right digital tool

The benefits of using digital technologies in evaluations are numerous. Not only are data entry and processing more efficient, but the centralization of data and the reduction of repetitive workbook tasks also generate a significant gain in productivity. According to the program specialist in UNESCO’s Education Policy Section, the use of online evaluations as an alternative to traditional classroom exams has several advantages: “including flexible test location choices, quicker displaying results, preserving the environment as educational settings go paperless, and notably saving the human resources, logistics and administrative costs during the organization and marking of tests and exams.” [7]

When selecting a digital tool for online test management, ease of use, access to resources and privacy are three aspects that should not be overlooked.

The digital solution must be easy to use. Not everyone has the same level of technological proficiency, and the ability to learn new tools should not be underestimated. Technical support must be available to guide users through the transition and adoption of the digital tool. Tutorials, technical articles, and support services should be available. Finally, the digital tool should have controls in place to ensure the protection of the users’ privacy in compliance with the laws in force.

Thanks to digital technology, optimize your assessment process with a secure, user-friendly web-based platform specializing in online exam management and grading. Nexam is a bilingual web platform that allows the administration and correction of secure evaluations to be done more efficiently.


[1] De Ketele, J.-M. (2010). « Ne pas se tromper d’évaluation », Revue française de linguistique appliquée, 15, p. 25-37
[2] Nicole Monney «Arrimer l’objet d’apprentissage, l’activité d’apprentissage et l’activité évaluative », Évaluation des apprentissages en formation à distance, p.30-31
[3] Facchin, S. (2017). La rétroaction traditionnelle ou technologique? Impact du moyen de diffusion de la rétroaction sur la persévérance et la réussite scolaires (rapport de recherche PAREA no PA-2015024). Montréal, Québec : Cégep à distance
[4] Tolman, Steven. “Academic dishonesty in online courses: Considerations for graduate preparatory programs in higher education.” College Student Journal, vol. 51, no. 4, winter 2017, pp. 579+
[5] Simonnot B. (2014). Le plagiat universitaire, seulement une question d’éthique? Questions de communication, 26, p. 222
[6] Accommodations and Academic Performance J. Parsons, M. McColl, A. Martin & D. Rynard, Canadian Journal of Higher Education (2021), page 42