Understand how virtual proctoring introduces a new era of student assessment.
Nearly every other sector has been impacted in the wake of the novel coronavirus, and the Education domain is no exception. With conventional classroom teaching being impacted and exams getting delayed, students and teachers are faced with a new (relatively uncharted) world of online test assessment.
Virtual proctoring systems entail supervising exams using a combination of a computer and a remote proctor – someone who is officially approved as a remote invigilator.
To put things into perspective, let’s look at why remote exam monitoring demands attention.
- Explosive growth in the area of online proctoring: Here’s what Mike Olsen, Proctorio’s chief executive says about the widespread adoption of this concept which is boosting revenues for ‘learning integrity platforms’ all the way:
“We’ll probably increase our value by four to five x just this year.”
In December alone, the company proctored exams for more than 1.2 million students.
- E-learning emerging as the future of education: Data by Forbes indicates that “The worldwide e-learning market is projected to be worth $325 Billion in 2025.” Additionally, further research claims that “E-learning has led to an increase in income for 42% of US organizations.” In fact, IBM has reportedly saved a staggering $200 million after transitioning to e-learning. Logic dictates that as schools and colleges are forced to provide online instruction, remote virtual exams must fill the examination requirement and surveillance will not be far behind.
That said, it’s time to gauge how online proctors measure up to the student’s expectations and the educational community at large.
Top-5 Factors to Keep in Mind with Remote Exam Proctoring
1. Monitoring a Student’s Body Language
Nine times out of ten, the first big question that pops up across every teacher’s and student’s mind is this: “How are online exams proctored?”
A fair question.
An online proctor emulates the functions and responsibilities of an on-site examiner. And similar to classroom exams, preventing ‘cheating’ is key. This is where using a combination of virtual testing software, high-quality video streaming services, and conventional invigilation standards can offer a helping hand. By harnessing the power of AI, live online proctoring becomes a potential solution.
A seasoned proctor keeps a check on a student’s activities (think: head movement, hand movements, etc.) by using screen-sharing capabilities and tracking the audio-video feed in real-time.
Here’s an example: Say a student is ‘captured’ looking off-screen for a prolonged period of time. In such a case, the proctor can rank the student high on the “suspicion score”, which could also mean that the student might fail their exam.
2. Policing Computer Exam Sessions
Virtual exams can be monitored using the student’s webcam, microphone, speakers, and computer screens. A chat bot or live audio feed can also provide support for the student. Recording each exam session allows faculty to review anomalous results of testing.
As a result, the student’s exam grade becomes a measurement of content and behavior during the exam session. Caution must be taken to avoid pressure to the virtual exam period by interruptions or unnecessary warnings. A thorough explanation of how virtual testing occurs should proceed any exam session.
The students need to follow a thoroughly explained set of rules to provide a relaxed exam session with no surprises or interruptions. A prior meeting needs scheduling to walk a student through the exercise.
Monitoring a candidate’s browsing activity to prevent opening multiple tabs and browsing are primary functions of the proctor/software.
3. Facial Recognition & Eye-Tracking Features are Key
When it comes to remote exams, another pressing concern for educational institutions is validating an examinee’s identity. To address the same, AI-powered innovative features such as facial recognition and eye-tracking software are being used to verify their identity and eliminate any chances of using a proxy. Plus, some online proctoring softwares offer the capability to use OTP, Biometrics, and IP details to create a rock-solid ID authentication procedure.
4. Recording the Proctoring Session
In cases where live monitoring is not feasible, recorded proctoring can come in handy. Basically, proctors can go back to the recording session and ‘play’ the video to review the session.
Perhaps the best feature of using remote recorded proctoring is its ability to be integrated with any learning management system/website. As you can imagine, this makes geographical limitations, time management issues, and logistics hassles vanish. Students can take the test anytime, anywhere with the proper computer setup – without compromising on the integrity of the examination.
5. Testing the Hands-on Skills Required for ‘True-to-Form’ Proctors
We’ve spoken about the technological prowess of proctoring software, but what about the hands-on, soft skills required from a proctor’s perspective?
On an average, a remote proctor in a center ends up invigilating 5-10 candidates at a time; whereas the experience is one-on-one with online proctoring. Surely, they need to have certain skills to excel at their job, such as:
- Being alert and quick in assessing a candidate’s behavioral changes. For example, identifying if there are more people in the room.
- Monitoring with greater attention to detail.
- Understanding the entire remote exam process and familiarizing with the examination rules whichcan prevent hampering a student’s concentration and performance, while eliminating unwanted confusion or stress.
- Offering an in-depth and transparent analysis of a student’s performance.
- Keeping a tab on the time and schedule while multitasking and monitoring candidates.
- Anticipating a student’s concerns and lending helpful advice if students get stuck along the way or if they are having any technology issues.
Having a back-up plan is as critical as surveying the exam with the utmost integrity.
- Addressing pressing issues such as proctor ‘intrusiveness’ at the very beginning to allow students to feel comfortable and less anxious while taking the exam.
Key takeaway: A heady combination of speed, convenience, and efficiency makes this emerging technology a possibility. Universities and schools can leverage the expertise of trained proctors – or virtual invigilators – to deliver a seamless remote examination experience. Providing a comfortable environment for the examinee is elemental to a satisfactory ritual examination session.
In a Nutshell: The Reality of Proctored Exams for Online Courses
Remote proctoring offers human intelligence and plug-and-play technological capabilities to streamline remote exams and support students in a modest, non-interfering capacity.
Now that we’ve (hopefully) put some of your most pressing concerns about how online proctored exams work to rest, let’s set the record straight: There is a lot of talk around protecting a student’s privacy and digital rights. Understandably so. But the pros of using a remote exam proctoring clearly outweigh the cons.
In the same vein, supervising remote exams – with its sanctity and integrity intact – is no longer restricted to the caliber of the proctors, the teachers, and the students. The optimal use of digital infrastructure is playing a central role. It would be fair to assume that this remote exam proctoring is driving a new wave of safe and secure student surveillance and passing with flying colors – for now.
Stephen Vieira is an education industry strategist covering thought leadership and guidance on technology strategies and initiatives for universities-wide. His most recent engagement was Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) as the full-time Chief Information Officer (CIO) where he provided an ongoing commitment to support the strategic use of information technology advancing the overall mission of multiple community colleges of the TBR system.
Stephen is a technology enthusiast with 25+ years of experience across large universities (Boston College and Virginia Tech) to smaller universities (Clark University) to community colleges. He has lead and managed the implementation of ERP systems, network upgrades, IT governance structures, and tactical planning for various universities. He has been a member of the Ellucian Customer Source Initiative Board, the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council, the Board of the Ocean State Higher Education and Administrative Network
For more insights, reach out to Steve via LinkedIn.