The Independent Examinations Board (IEB) has successfully completed a trial for electronic marking of matric exams that were written in June.

11 500 Life Orientation (LO) exams were marked using this new system in a pilot programme implemented by CSX Customer Services.

Matric students completed their exams as normal, with the finished papers being sent to a CSX facility where they were scanned. From here the digital copies were sent to a central marking centre where 131 teachers from around SA marked them electronically.

One of the advantages of electronic marking being touted is the speed of the system, with the entire process explained above only taking only six days. The 11 500 exams were apparently scanned in a single day.

Other reasons stated for the system include the fact that the digital copies cannot be lost, easier management of the marking process, and reduced costs in the future depending on full implementation.

The press release sent out to accompany this news tries to quell some worries about the system, stating that it can work offline if the internet goes out, and the marking facility has generators to cope with power outages. It also states that the encrypted information is stored for a minimum of six months for the purposes of remarking.

With this success the system will now be used on three more subjects: Design, Economics, and IT Theory.

A final important note to include is the fact that, as it stands, this does not include any computer marking. Everything is still handled by real people, albeit on PCs instead of on paper. Some facilities in South Africa do use computer marking, such as UNISA with their internal online system and a partnership with Pearson MyLab.