Online Testing?

OK, normally I’d never publicly criticize the ARRL or any of the other VECs. But I’m struggling here.

I can see all the arguments currently flying around during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s no clear end in sight and people are using the time to study and are feeling ready for the tests and want to take them while they and the material is fresh. I GET IT!

I also see the concerns of cheating, etc coming from the nay sayers.

I see the arguments of those that point out the online degrees etc. Yes tons of “more important” testing goes on, online every day.

I see the concerns of how 3 VEs could effectively, in a timely manor, proctor multiple people via internet video. Remember many in person test sessions, although not always, are group sessions so for a few hours 3 Volunteer Examiners are giving up their time to administer tests to you, for free! So if there is 12 people in the group that time now multiplies by 12? Or what? Challenges galore!

Here’s where I struggle with the situation, I see and agree with all sides to varying degrees. But what I’m having a hard time understanding is HOW this material can so clearly be covered as LEGAL in the ARRL EXTRA CLASS LICENSE MANUAL but yet none of the VECs are ready for distance proctoring? I know we are a hobby steeped in traditions, and in person testing is one of those traditions. I actually, for one, like that this tradition has held true. But if you are going to publish, in your training manuals, that “skype” would be an acceptable means to proctor the test if a VE cannot be present at the session they why have you not planned a way to execute the very thing you are publishing as acceptable? Why does it wait for a pandemic before a “technology based hobby” sets up.

I mean seriously, we should be and historically have been the cutting edge of communications. Why should we be so far behind the curve that a virus essentially shuts down license testing, while we figure it out? I understand no one planned on a pandemic, I can already hear those arguments, but that’s not my point here.

I’m not knocking the VEs, or the VECs look folks, its their licenses on the line if things aren’t done proper. I understand the caution in moving forward with the idea. And I’m not suggesting they rush it at this point, that would be the wrong thing to do IMHO. Personally I’d say leave it be, as bad as it stinks, and march on with the in person testing when it’s possible to do so. But lets learn from this and get set up for, God forbid, a repeat.


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