What happened to BYOD in 2018?

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The official communication from Farah Fredericks, Deputy Registrar (Tygerberg Campus)...

Dear Colleagues & Students

The BYOD system previously used for e-assessments in the faculty has been discontinued, and as of 2018, students will be assessed in GERGA only.

As a result, the GERGA facility has been expanded to accommodate a maximum of 234 computers. This will affect the scheduling of all e-assessments in GERGA and will in particular affect the MB, ChB programme, due to the class size exceeding the capacity of the 234 computers. In these instances, students will be assessed in two sessions.

To accommodate the GERGA expansion, the former study centre on the 3rd Floor, now forms part of the GERGA facility. The 5th floor examination venue has now been converted to a multi-use facility which will allow for written assessments to take place as well as providing a study space for students during non-assessment periods. Students are also reminded of the study and work spaces that will be available in the upgraded Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Library in 2018.

Kindly liaise with the Examinations Office for details regarding the revised assessment schedule to accommodate multi-session exams and tests.

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Of course this announcement only affects e-assessments, (exams & tests) and does not prevent you from using BYOD for general use and accessing GERGA’s programs, services and Safecom printing…

Here's why we stopped BYOD for e-assessments...

Network Speed

Despite having a state-of-the-art high-speed wireless network with the capacity to handle 400+ connected devices, over half the student devices that used the GERGABYOD network for e-assessments had slow, and poor-quality wireless capabilities. This led to dropped connections and slow and unstable sessions on the virtual desktop infrastructure, during exams. Apple MacBooks and the newer high-quality Windows laptops did not have these problems…

Security

Although both the network and the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) was very secure and multiple layers of security were in place during exams, some incidents of students deliberately attempting to circumvent security during e-assessments, forced us to reconsider the integrity of e-assessments, and to reduce the risks to the minimum.

Support Overload

Maintaining over 1500 devices registered on our BYOD network, and ensuring a 100% trouble-free experience for e-assessment for all these device, put a tremendous workload on the support personnel at GERGA. Over 350 man-hours were spent in 2017 fixing devices that broke, became infected with viruses and malware, and were poorly maintained by their owners. Laptops as old as 10 years had to be kept in working order, and over 15 different makes of Windows laptops alone had to be supported.

High Costs

The purchase of all the required hardware – servers, storage, network components, and the ongoing annual costs of software licensing, maintenance and replacement to provide a working and functional BYOD/VDI environment for all the annual e-assessments, placed a huge burden on the limited financial resources of GERGA. This was exacerbated by burgeoning exchange rates, inflation and South Africa’s struggling economy. BYOD for e-assessments was not financially sustainable.

You have some questions?