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Fig.: Andreas Vollmer

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - E-Assessment

Oral Exam in Distance

Oral exams take place within the context of (module) final exams (usually non-public) and disputations (usually public). They can also be conducted as e-examinations with the help of information and communication technologies.

The context of digital oral (as well as multimedia) exams is defined by the ZSP-HU (§ 96a Abs. 1, 8. change):

"Die in einer fachspezifischen Prüfungsordnung festgelegte Form einer Modulabschlussprüfung gemäß § 96 Absatz 7 (d.h. multimediale Prüfung) und 8 (d.h. mündliche Prüfung) sowie eine Verteidigung gemäß § 97 Absatz 7 kann ganz oder teilweise mit Hilfe einer Videokonferenz durchgeführt werden; [...]"

[Translation: "The form of a final module examination specified in a subject-specific examination regulation under section 96(7) (i.e. multimedia examination) and 8 (i.e. oral examination) and a disputation under section 97(7) may be conducted in whole or in part by means of a video conference; [...]"]


If an oral exam is to or must be conducted at a distance, this can only be implemented by using a camera and microphone in the private environment of the students (and, if applicable, the teachers). For the data protection legal framework see "Art. 13 DSGVO, Informationspflicht".


Selection of video conferencing software

On the part of the CMS, it is recommended to use the Zoom video software with end-to-end encryption (E2EE), which is also integrated in Moodle. In order to use E2EE, the client, i.e. the app, must have been downloaded. Otherwise, it is possible to use Zoom via the browser, but there is then no data-secure connection because the E2EE is missing.

If there are concerns about using Zoom, the new (currently lightly tested) software BigBlueButton can also be used. It is also integrated as an activity in Moodle, but unlike Zoom, it depends more on the performance of everyone's computers in use. According to current knowledge, this is not an obstacle for e-examinations with small numbers of simultaneous participants.


Planning, conducting and evaluating the oral examination

Unlike written e-examinations, it is not necessary to set up an examination course in Moodle. In the case of larger cohorts, it would nevertheless be worth considering whether it might make sense to bring together all examinees and the examination protocols in one course. In this way, the long-term saving of exams and their results could be guaranteed centrally via the CMS.

If the oral e-examination is conducted outside of a Moodle examination course, the examination is conducted and evaluated as usual.

In principle, this form of oral examination requires explanation in advance regarding data protection (see above) and the necessary technology (camera, microphone, software, computer, steady internet). In particular, the technology and how to use it should be tested before the exam so that a candidate does not press the wrong "button", e.g. "Leave meeting", due to excitement during the examination. 

(status 2/19/2021)