Brunel’s ‘bring your own device’ exams wins Advance HE award

The team is now demonstrating the scheme to more than 40 other universities who are interested in replicating the innovation

Brunel University’s ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) exams model has won an Advance HE award.

The BYOD scheme, which allows students to use their own laptops to sit exams, was piloted in 2015 for sport science exams. This year, an estimated 2,700 students across a range of disciplines utilised the scheme.

Fourteen other teams from higher education institutions across the UK received a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) award.


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Brunel University’s Dr Simon Kent, director of learning and teaching for computer science, and Prof Mariann Rand-Weaver, pro-vice-chancellor (education), explain the benefits behind the BYOD scheme.


Prof Mariann Rand-Weaver, vice-provost for education at Brunel, said: “We’ve been able to show a demonstrable benefit to various stakeholders – students can type their exam answers using a familiar medium, academic staff no longer have to struggle to read handwritten answers, and professional staff have fewer administrative tasks.

“Nationally, it has captured the imagination of many universities that, like us, are seeking to use technology for the benefit of students and staff.”

With the worlds of pedagogy and technology colliding, we are at the beginning of an exciting time.
– Prof Mariann Rand-Weaver, Brunel University

The scheme, which currently covers the college of engineering, design and physical sciences and the college of health and life sciences, is due to be rolled out to the college of business, arts and social sciences next year.

Rand-Weaver said digital examinations could “be a catalyst for innovative assessment practices”.

She continued: “The use of technology should allow us to go beyond replicating pen-and-paper exams digitally – it should help us design authentic assessments that develop skills and attributes required for successful careers. With the worlds of pedagogy and technology colliding, we are at the beginning of an exciting time.”

Brunel is showcasing the scheme to 32 institutions at workshops and conferences and a further 11 are visiting the university to observe the exams, with view to emulating the trial elsewhere.

The team found no discernible negative effect on exam performance and no obvious correlation between someone’s typing speed and the grade they achieved.