Final exam day.
looks great. Thanks to all the work of the team
on the 21a exam, this final will be no problem to administer, even so we have
almost 400 students. So we thought.
Its a nice day. There is still some snow on the streets while biking in.
At 9:20 I lock my bike near the science center. A guard informs me that the building is closed
due to a bomb threat. I go to LISE to stay
close and wait.
I send information by emails to the class and twitter.
Many students are in Annenberg, others in their dorms.
Some have their stuff locked in other buildings. It looks improbable at this time that the exam will
take place in the afternoon. The science center is still closed at 1:30 PM, no news until 1:46, when
the information reaches me that the exam takes place with changed exam rooms.
The 400 printed exam booklets with 30 pages each are still in my office which of course is off limit.
With my laptop being able to connect to my office machine, I prepare and email the exam again to
Flashprint at 1:47 PM who can miraculously print on a
short notice and deliver to Yenching auditorium and
Geological lecture hall. We start at 2:45.
The Crimson tweets: "With exam papers stuck in
Science Center, Math 21a staff forced to reprint
hundreds of exams; students still waiting to begin 2 PM exam." The exam goes well.
All but 5 of the 380 students take the exam.
Some have to cut it short, because they have to catch flights or an other exam in the evening.
After the exam, we all grade it in the reopened science center. We finish at about
11 PM, fed by two Pizza deliveries.
I'm thankful to the department which pushed behind the scenes for going ahead with the exam.
Thanks to Flashprint who could print thousands of pages in a flash. Impressive how fast the
reorganisation was done in a fluid environment; and how calm and reasonable most students stayed.
The newly scheduled "out of sequence exams" went well on Tuesday thanks to the efforts
and overnight work of the exam office.
Lessons to be learned
- I should have seen earlier that there is a possibility that the exam papers will remain
unaccessible. Since printing such a large job usually takes a couple of hours, I never
would have thought this could be done so fast. Flashprint at Harvard square saved us. If the same
event would happen again and my office would become inaccessible during an exam day, the first thing
to do would be to print the exams again and possibly waste 600 dollars and 6000 pages of paper.
On the other hand, the longest time the science center had been inaccessible was maybe 2-3
hours, and this was a real fire. Bomb scares have occurred before in the 13 years I have
been here, but this was usually a matter of an hour or two. Most of the fire drills took less
than one hour. I myself was confident even at noon that the science center would still
open on time. Now, I know better.
- It would be good to have emergency rooms available during final exam period.
Examples: the Annenberg dining hall, the Sanders theater, some lecture hall in the new
Wasserstein building, reading rooms in libraries or other dining halls like the law school
[Update, December 17:] Update of 3 AM
[Update, December 17:] Student charged.
[Update, December 18:] C+ in cyber security (Slate)