The opening of the new Digital Learning Center (DLC) in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Adele Coryell Hall Learning Commons provided an opportunity for students in the College of Business Administration to be among the first to take advantage of the facility. Two classes led by Dr. Roberto Stein, assistant professor of practice in finance, took tests in the facility as it prepares for a full-scale opening in the fall.
“When I heard the DLC was open for business, I immediately talked to them about running this first trial with the summer sections of FINA 361 (Finance) and FINA 363 (Investment Principles),” Stein said. “They used it as a chance to iron out some bugs in their systems, and for me it was an opportunity to deploy better tests and still have students take them in an organized, proctored environment.”
The Digital Learning Center features seating for up to 174 students in an open floorplan. Each testing unit includes height-adjustable tables, screen reader programs, speech-to-text programs and noise cancelling headphones. A private testing room is also available, as are low-distraction stations. An open layout and floor-to-ceiling windows letting in natural light add to the relaxed feel of the facility.
Open to instructors across UNL, the center is currently in a pilot period and open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays. The center will open full-scale operations starting with the first day of fall classes Monday, August 22. Fall semester hours are currently scheduled to be 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Fridays; 1-5 p.m. on Saturdays; and 1-10 p.m. on Sundays.
The center provides a much larger, more modern space than the current CBA Testing Center located on the lower level of CBA. It offers 150 more seats, and is equipped with state-of-the-art software and equipment that allows for a wide variety of tests.
“In the spring 2016 term, I had two sections with almost 300 students, and it was difficult to organize tests. I eventually had to compromise with tests that lasted less than an hour, so we could have every student take the test on the same day,” Stein explained. “I had to write a computer program myself to read student-provided schedules and assign them testing time slots.”
The Digital Learning Center features a website that allows students to schedule their own time slots and a seating algorithm designed to help students avoid long lines. The flexible service allows tests to be administered through Blackboard, Canvas or MapleTA. In addition, computer-based testing has helped Stein test understanding of financial tools and software.
“Students can be taught in class how to use the standard financial tool, Microsoft Excel, and they can then use this knowledge in their computer-based test,” Stein said. “Standard paper tests do not permit this, so we’ve had to require financial calculators for a long time – which are for the most part obsolete in real business applications.”