Online Assessment at HKU SPACE

Rapid technological advances can enrich the education experience and enhance traditional approaches to learning and collaboration. Advanced educational technology and learning models have been adopted by the education industry to meet the rising expectations of educators and learners. How can HKU SPACE implement feasible and reliable solution to meet this challenge?

Social unrest and the outbreak of COVID-19 in November 2019 affected most face-to-face classes. As a result, lessons were delivered using e-learning technologies such as SOUL 2.0, the School’s learning management system, Adobe Virtual Classroom and ZOOM.

Examinations held in December 2019 were shifted to online mode with a total of 97 courses conducting examinations through SOUL 2.0, more than 80% of these in the form of written assignments.

In March 2020, owing to the second outbreak of COVID-19, face-to-face lectures were again suspended and examinations were held using SOUL 2.0. By 31 May 2020, a total of 228 courses had conducted examinations in this way, 71.5% in the form of written assignments and 28.5% in the form of online quizzes.

The E-learning Team observed a significant increase in the number of courses using SOUL 2.0 for examinations. However, these courses represent only a fraction of the total number of courses at HKU SPACE. Furthermore, examinations conducted through SOUL 2.0 lacked proper proctoring procedures, raising the possibility of issues arising over the authorisation of results.

When examinations are conducted online, the three main issues to be considered are student authentication, academic honesty, and examination proctoring. According to Orrell (2020), there are four possible solutions to resolve these:

  1. Requiring students to enter a pre-defined challenge code before entering examinations
  2. Using student photographs to verify the identity of students by trained proctors
  3. Using open book examinations to discourage cheating
  4. Building banks of questions and using randomised questions

In addition to examinations, other types of e-assessment such as extended writing tasks in the form of essays or projects, student portfolios, and group work can be embedded throughout the course. Such arrangements avoid the possibility of students cheating in examinations; however it is important to note that implementation requires careful planning at the course design stage.

In an online workshop at HKU SPACE Community College in September 2020, Professor Janice Orrell noted that many teachers were asking how technology could be used to authenticate students during online assessments. Pointing out that there is currently no foolproof system, she suggested that the right question to ask is how we devise assessments in the context of available learning technology.

In September 2020, the E-Learning Team studied different implementations of e-assessment systems including the following:

__(1) Developing a new e-assessment system. This will:

  • be equipped with a scheduling capability for the release of examination papers at specific time and the collection of students’ answers;
  • be integrated with the existing learning management system for student information; and
  • be integrated with a cloud system to record examinations.

__(2) Refining SOUL 2.0 platform. The refined system will:

  • be enhanced to fulfil the requirements for an e-assessment system;
  • be integrated with Turnitin to check for plagiarism, and
  • be integrated with web conferencing tools for proctoring procedures.

__(3) Employing the online proctoring procedures used at renowned universities in conjunction with current examination practice;

__(4) Open-book examination.
These four options will be discussed by senior management. The E-Learning Team continues to work with different programme teams and parties to make online assessment feasible and practical in the coming year.



Orrell, Janice (2020). Expert advice for student authentication of online assessment. Retrieved from