e-platform for the Faculty of Humanities



Take-Home-Exams in AGORA

In times of lockdown, conducting face-to-face exams is problematic. The lecturers have therefore been asked by the Presidential Board to offer alternative digital examination formats wherever possible, e.g. take-home exams (THE). We outline here an option on AGORA by means of the new function "personal workspaces". This is much more convenient than the variant using manually set up group rooms for each individual examinee, which we have previously discussed.
     A significant advantage for the taking of examinations and study achievements in AGORA is that most students and lecturers of the faculty are already well familiar with AGORA. For basic information about the use of AGORA, our extensive AGORA help portal with e.g. tutorials and a FAQ section is available.
    For preparatory information on the conception and organization of take-home exams in general, as well as on questions of examination law, please refer to the corresponding website of the e-learning portal. If required, you can also find detailed instructions for complex test scenarios in OpenOlat here.

Note: The scenarios described below are only working-level tips and suggestions for technical implementation. If you have any questions regarding the legal responsibility of the examiner(s) that you cannot clarify based on our explanations or on the e-learning portal website, please contact the Dean of Studies Office of our faculty.


Getting started with AGORA


Employees and students of the University of Hamburg (UHH) can log in to AGORA independently using their user ID (B identifier or "STiNE identifier").

1. Call up the AGORA homepage in your browser ( Click on the blue "Login" bar here.
2. Now enter the access data of your user ID with identifier and password on the login page and click on "Login".


Room opening and room participation for students admitted to the examination.

Step 1: You may have already opened a room for the course in which the take-home exam (THE) is to take place. Nevertheless, we recommend you to create a separate room for the execution of the exam (see also tutorial on "creating a new room"). This way you ensure that only those students can access the THE who are actually admitted to the exam - and not all participants of the course.

Tip: Simply use our "Take Home Exam Room Template" created for this purpose with room ID: 12577001. In the course of opening the room, you can select it in the "Template" drop-down menu. In this case, you can skip step 2.

Step 2: When creating the room, activate the "Personal workspaces" feature, which you will find listed under the settings options. Please note that this option only appears after you have checked the "Project room" option next to "Room type" (see also tutorial on "Personal workspaces"):

creating personal workspaces in the room settings  
Abb. 1: creating personal workspaces in the room settings  

You would like to activate the "Personal workspaces You can find the option here: First click on the "Settings" room moderation area. Then click on "Extensions". Here you will find the option "Personal workspaces" as the first item. Check it, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Save".   

Step 3: Now, in the "Settings" for room moderation, define how students can enter the room. Make a conscious decision to choose one of the options before announcing the room name to the exam candidates, and stick with it if possible, so that requests that have been already made before the change do not go missing:

  • Joining by application: Students can find the THE room as usual in the list of all rooms and apply for membership here. You will then receive a corresponding notification by mail and can activate the requesters (if necessary, you can learn how to do this in this tutorial).
  • Joining by participation code: Alternatively, you can set up a participation code for a THE room and share it with the exam candidates (see this guide for how to do this, if needed).

Now tell the examination candidates the room title and/or the room ID and ask them to enter the room promptly. It is best to give them a deadline for this.

Note: In any case, make sure that all students admitted to the exam have access to the room before the start of the take-home exam (after the end of the sign-in and sign-out period).

Tip: Compare the AGORA list of room participants with the STiNE list of admitted students. To do this, open your exam in STiNE and go to the details page. Then click on "Extended list" in the "Participants" section.


Create task

AGORA is particularly suitable for the open-book scenarios described on the e-learning portal website - such as essay questions. If, on the other hand, you prefer a question type-oriented query with e.g. single and multiple choice questions, assignment tasks, etc., OpenOlat is more suitable, because it provides a very large variety of question formats and their largely automatic evaluation.

First create one or more tasks on AGORA outside of the target room, e.g. in your personal area My Stack. You can access this by clicking on the folder symbol in the icon bar at the top right. Afterwards, you can copy them into the respective personal rooms of the examination candidates by means of a so-called mass action.

Tip: Alternatively, you can create a task that is to be worked on by everyone in a material entry in a THE room (i.e. not in "My repository"). In this case, skip the following section "Assign task".

First, go to the "Tasks" section under "My Stack", your personal area. There you can create the task as an entry and set the access rights and visibility according to your needs. The "New entry" function, which you can find in the action menu in the top right corner of the edit line, allows you to create the new entry. At this point you can also edit the deadline end under "Due on" and the intended processing span under "Planned time".

Note: The deadline entered is to be understood as a hint for the exam candidates. It does not prevent solutions from being uploaded or edited later. If necessary, inform your students in advance that you will not accept examination results posted after the deadline. To prevent subsequent editing, please follow the instructions described below in the section "Archiving and Assessment".

Note: Consider different submission deadlines to compensate for the disadvantage of limited examination candidates.

  • Option "Editable by creator only": If you check this box, you ensure that only you (and possibly other room moderators) can edit the entry. This prevents other participants from accidentally or intentionally editing or even deleting the entry.
  • Option "Disable": If you check this box, the entry will be visible only to you. It is hidden for all other participants.
  • Option "Activation by date": If you also enter the date and time after "Deactivated until", your entry will be automatically activated at the selected time and displayed in the list for all room participants. You can either enter the desired date and optionally a time manually or select it by clicking on the desired date in the calendar or time context menu that appears.

We recommend always using these three settings in the context of exam-like scenarios. 

Now, either type the task in the text box or upload a file with the task. 



Assign task


After you have created the task in your personal My Stack area, you can paste it into the exam candidates' personal spaces using a so-called bulk action.

1. Click on "Select action" in "My Stack" and then on "Copy". Now select the desired entry and confirm the selection with "Execute action".
2. Now go to the project room in whose person rooms the entry is to be inserted. Go to the "Persons" section.
3. Under "Select action", select the option "Copy clipboard to personal workspaces". Select all persons to whom the entry is to be made available and confirm with "Execute action".

Insert clipboard into personal workspacesAbb. 2: Insert clipboard into personal workspaces

Tip: You can also copy content to individual person rooms. If you want to use different variants (e.g. Task A - Task B), you can thus assign them to the respective examination candidates.


Enable protected submission

To implement a protected submission, where only you as the instructor and the individual students have access to the uploaded files, use the function of the person rooms. You have either created these with the creation of your THE room, as described above, or you use the room template (ID: 12577001), where this function is already activated. To enter a person room, click on the "People" section in the left margin. The list of room members will appear. Next to each room member there is an icon for entering his or her person room.

Screenshot Personenübersicht. Symbol zum Betreten der Personenräume hervorgehoben
Abb. 3: Icon for entering the person rooms
Here, students can complete the submission - preferably not by typing in the editor, but by uploading a document, preferably in PDF format. 

Tip: You can find a detailed tutorial on how to use the person rooms in our AGORA help portal.


Declaration of autonomy 

At the top right of this page, under "Download", you will find two suggestions for self-declarations that you can request from your examination candidates*. The two variants differ as follows with regard to the aids used:

Variant 1: I, first name last name, hereby certify that I have completed this examination independently and exclusively using the permitted aids.
Variant 2: I, First Name Last Name, hereby certify that I have written this examination paper independently and exclusively using the sources listed in the bibliography.

You should provide the self-declarations to the students in advance so that the time does not subtract from the assignment completion time. When submitting, students then upload this document along with the actual assignment processing.

Tip: In the room template described in the last section below, both documents are uploaded in one material entry. Delete the variant you do not want there before you name the room to your students.

In principle, you as the examiner can decide for yourself whether you want to use other formulations. However, the suggestions in the PDF forms are in accordance with the examination regulations. These and this procedure in principle is coordinated with Unit 31: Quality and Law.


End of processing and evaluation

From a technical point of view, if you want to ensure that the exam documents are not processed after the deadline, you should "freeze" the THE room, so to speak. The following options are available for this:

1. Switch the status of the room members: Immediately after the deadline, assign the status "Reading user" to all or only individual room members (more info here). Advantage of this option: If necessary, you can do this for individual room members at a later time - very practical, for example, in the case of disadvantage compensation. Also, you and other room moderators are still allowed to edit the room.       
2. Room archiving: You can also set the entire THE room to "archived" immediately after the deadline (instructions here). However, no one - neither a "user" nor the "room moderator" - will be able to make any changes, i.e. corrections to the assignments will no longer be possible in this room. All further information about room archiving and deletion can be found here.

Tip: We strongly recommend that you also save all relevant files locally on your computer. To do this, download the exam performance from the respective person rooms from the delivery entry.

The evaluation and assessment of the posted examination results cannot be done automatically by AGORA, but is the responsibility of the lecturers. Go to the individual person room in each case to evaluate the files and download them if necessary. Comments that you make there are protected and only visible to the respective examinee and you or other room moderators.

Tip: All members of the room moderation have access to the person rooms. So if you are doing the assessment with support, simply assign the status "Moderation" to the proofreaders to allow them access to the submitted documents (instructions here).


Room template


The room template for THE mentioned above can be found under the name "Take-Home-Exam-Room-Template" with the room ID: 12577001. In it, the function "Personal workspaces" is already activated and a sample task is created with the required settings. You will also find two samples for self-declarations there.

Note: We recommend that you carry out a trial run of the THE with the test takers in advance in order to avert possible stumbling blocks and uncertainties.

Tip: If you have any questions about AGORA and take-home exams at the Faculty of Humanities, please feel free to contact the eLearning office team at and find out more about digital teaching on our website. You can find more information on the topic on the website of the e-learning portal of the e-network at UHH. If you have questions regarding examination law, please contact your responsible study office or the Dean of Studies.