Friday, November 05, 2004

Hi-tech is supposed to save us work? Today's language exam put our new bar-code scanners to use again and if there was any evidence of work saved I certainly didn't see it.

The procedure is supposed to go like this:
Candidates are saved of the work of writing their names on their answer scripts. Instead they paste a large bar code label that we invigilators issue to them. We then use our handy little hand-held device to scan each bar code to take attendance. We scan the bar codes again at the end of the paper to ensure that everyone who took the paper has handed them in to be marked. Accurate, easy, efficient, just as it would sound on someone's EWSS suggestion. No wonder we jumped on the idea.

Candidates' individual labels come printed on computer forms, conveniently perforated for our tearing convenience. As the paper begins, the invigilator struggles with ripping apart the forms and arranging them in numerical order so it's easier to distribute them once they have been separated. I'm sure the sound of paper tearing has a demoralising effect on an important exam, not to mention the occasional cusses of the invigilator whenever he encounters a particularly tough piece of label that may or may not tear at the right place.

On distributing said labels, we still have to check if the labels correspond to the person who happens to be sitting at that particular spot. *Goes desk to desk checking ID for verification. Now we take attendance by scanner. *Goes desk to desk scanning labels for attendance. Next, we pass on the scanner to the next door invigilator with whom we have to share. *Goes next door, hands scanner over. Oh, we still have to take attendance manually??? *Applies pen to paper ticking off manual attendance list. Part 1 done.

At the end of the paper we collect the answer scripts and the bar-code counterfoils. *Goes desk to desk collecting said items. We pass the time counting collected items while waiting for the invigilator whom we shared the scanner with to give the scanner back to us. *Goes next door to help self to the scanner after an appropriately polite wait. We scan through our set of collected scripts to verify the numbers. *Scans hastily as Candidates have been sitting through 3+ hours of exam taking and probably need a toilet break ASAP. In our haste we may have missed scanning one or two scripts. *Stares uncomprehendingly at why the number of scripts collected fails to tally with attendance recorded. We slowly trace the stray scripts whose bar codes did not get captured. *Feels 30 eye-daggers prickling back of neck. Finally locate stray scripts and scan them to the scanner's satsfaction. Release the candidates at last. *Goes to fetch a bucket and mop for those who couldn't hold it any longer.

Mom always said if I didn't study any harder I'd end up as a checkout clerk at a convenience store. Shoulda' sat for my MA.

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