The process involved in the OSCE practical examinations in the Faculty of Veterinary Science created significant challenges due to the number of students involved. During the practical exam, students are given six minutes to do a procedure in a laboratory or the skills lab and then proceed to several other labs to complete the rest of the procedures required. The coordination of students in labs resulted in significant challenges. Students, for example, arrived at a lab while other students were still busy with their procedures which caused delays and often extended the examination period to several days or even weeks.
During 2016 Mr Almero du Pisani from the Department for Education Innovation assisted Prof Dietmar Holm to design a system whereby instructions were broadcast to examiners, administrators and students in all the applicable labs concurrently. PowerPoint Office Mix was used to record and manage the timing of the instructions. Google Hangouts was used to create “practical rooms” to relay the audio instructions to all the labs. Most labs already had computers linked to the internet, but they required mobile sound systems to assist in the communication. Vetbox, which is a database with different scenarios, provided random questions or procedures which the student had to address during the practical examination.
The broadcasting of instructions to all administrators, examiners and students simultaneously to all the practical rooms was such a success that the Faculty decided to use this system for all practical examinations whereby large numbers of students must move through laboratories in a short period of time.
During the November 2017 OSCE examinations, Dr Lizette Neetling was coordinating the examinations, and 250 students completed six practical examinations within two days with no technological problems. This innovative use of existing technology made a positive impact on the productivity of staff and reliability of the examinations at Onderstepoort.