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The idea of creating an exam bank began receiving serious consideration at the AMS around 1995. Indeed, ever since the technological frontier shifted, allowing greater scanning and security capabilities at an affordable cost, students have advocated for a digital, web-based exam bank service. The high demand for this type of service is logical considering that the current display system does not guarantee the integrity of the exams or access of them. The exam bank, if developed properly, would satisfactorily address both weaknesses of the current system.
In early May of 1999, Publishing & Copy Centre (P&CC) Manager Francesco Gucciardo and Academic Affairs Commissioner (AAC) Rodger Scott concluded that if they pooled their intellectual and financial resources, an exam bank could become a reality in a short period of time. The partnership was a natural one: the P&CC taking responsibility for the technological aspects of the project and the AAC ensuring, from an administrative standpoint, its smooth functioning.
From the outset, both realized that the biggest task would be convincing the administration and, more importantly, the faculty that this challenging project could be completed in a secure manner and that this system would not infringe upon the inherent intellectual property rights of the exams. Fortunately, this project was encouraged and supported by both the Office of the University Registrar and Queen's University Library. Cindy Price, former Exam Coordinator, and Liz Fox, Electronic Services Librarian, were both strong advocates of this venture and acted as project coordinators to develop and implement procedures within their departments. Ms. Price was also a member of the Senate Committee on Academic Procedure (SCAP), Sub-committee on Examinations that would determine the fate of this project. With Ms. Price's help, the project was presented to SCAP/Exams in mid-June 1999.
The SCAP/Exams committee members agreed to the project's implementation, subject to the following stipulations:
- the exam bank be set up so that it will only be accessible to the Queen's "family" (i.e. users that are connecting to the Internet from a Queen's IP address or through an authenticated and authorized Queen's account);
- all exams be transferred from .tif to .pdf format, ensuring that the web user cannot "cut & paste" or otherwise alter the content of the online version of the exams; and
- the exams be released to the AMS for scanning on a date after October 1 of each year.
With this approval, the process of acquiring the technology capable of completing this type of task efficiently and effectively began. Soon after, the P&CC purchased the Canon ImageRunner multifunction machine, which provided the scanning capabilities to begin the scanning process.
Over the next two months, along with addressing a number of administrative concerns, Mr. Scott and Mr. Gucciardo spent close to three hundred hours scanning exams into the exam's database. Initially, their goal was just to scan the 1997-1998 exams and then subsequent years' exams, but it made sense to scan as many exams as humanly possible in that time frame. On Aug 23rd, 1999 at 12:48 a.m. all the 1996-1998 exams had been scanned.
During September-October 1999, the exam files were provided to the Assistant Librarian for Systems, who transferred and indexed the files on a server maintained by Queen's University Library. The Library will be responsible for ensuring permanent, online access to all exams in Exambank.
The AMS Publishing and Copy Centre, the AMS Academic Affairs Commission, the Office of the University Registrar (Exams Office), and Queen's University Library trust the successive years of Queen's students will benefit from this service.