Online learning has created a level field for all. Students who could not afford the sky-high tuition fees of global universities are now able to polish their skills and qualify as professionals from the comfort of their homes. Online testing makes it possible for a high-school grad or a working professional to grow in their respective careers in a steadfast manner.
Along with online learning, its necessary ally — online testing – has also grown in leaps and bounds. However, the history of exams, be it online or offline, shows that malpractice is rampant amidst students. In fact, it is a menace that educational institutions try to eliminate using every resource they can get their hands on.
Online testing has put a curveball at those efforts. The recent pandemic situation and the subsequent migration to online learning have unleashed malpractices in online tests where there have been cases of students referring to tutoring websites and impersonating fellow students during online tests. Academic dishonesty in the form of cheating and malpractice defeats the entire purpose of education. It is here that online proctoring can help.
What is Online Proctoring?
Online proctoring is the process of enabling students to take online tests from remote locations without compromising the integrity of the examination. It establishes the identity of the student and also supervises their actions while taking the test. Any irregular student behavior or malpractice is flagged, just like in real-world examinations.
Proctoring can be done with the help of an online proctor who supervises the student during exams or with the help of computer software that automates the entire proctoring process. With COVID-19 unleashing panic all around the world, educational institutions have been forced to shut doors and open virtual classrooms. Tests must also follow the virtual route to keep students on track with their academic goals.
The good news? A poll by Educause has found that 54 percent of institutions were using online or remote proctoring services, while another 23 percent are considering or planning to use them.
The benefit of online proctoring is that it can help catch academic cheating even before it happens. Here are 3 ways how online proctoring helps with that:
The online proctor verifies the student identity by comparing the student’s cam visuals with the soft copy of a photo identity or exam admit card provided. Additionally, online proctoring can also make use of advanced technologies like real-time video streaming analytics and facial recognition to prevent malpractice.
Online proctoring helps track the student’s outward behavior during the exam. For instance, online proctoring software can keep track of the browsing logs, online chat logs, and audio/video played by the student while taking the exam. Furthermore, an online proctor can also ensure that no support is provided by any unauthorized personnel in the background.
The biggest challenge in conducting an examination is not in organizing it, but in grading it. After all, each answer submission holds the key to the student’s future. That said, online proctoring makes it easy for educational institutions to grade student performance. It can automate the grading of answers and tabulate results quickly that can be announced without much delay.
The Untold Benefits of Online Proctoring
Educational institutions are moving to online proctoring for plenty of reasons. One among them is that it helps continue the term as planned without letting a pandemic or crisis break the flow. However, there are still more benefits that educational institutions can achieve through online proctoring.
Supervision at scale
In an offline examination scenario, a single supervisor can monitor the activities of a few hundred students. Even in such a scenario, the quality of monitoring is questionable. Given the staff shortage at academic institutions, it is not always possible to have a healthy ratio of students to teachers.
With online proctoring, it is possible to scale test supervision to a large number of students. Right from basic checks of ensuring student identity to monitoring their activities during the test duration, effective supervision can be done at scale.
Saves physical infrastructure costs
Conducting even a single test in an undergraduate college requires several physical infrastructures like exam halls, stationary, supervisors, and related logistics. Online proctoring on the other hand, can save all these costs by moving the exam venue to the student’s home, dorm room, or anywhere that qualifies as a silent and secluded place for taking an exam.
Despite the rise in demand for online learning, it doesn’t match the credibility that actual exams conducted at offline locations have. It is primarily due to the fact that students can easily cheat during online tests. Online proctoring can help eliminate that. It creates a level playing field where the same level of supervision and monitoring that is present in offline exams is induced into the online exam model. Thus, it boosts the credibility of online tests and the students who take it.
Online proctoring enables a University to reach out and conduct trials for students across the globe. Students, on the other hand, do not have to be physically present at the University premises to give their examinations. This enables an educational organization to maximize its global reach.
Personalized exam scheduling
It is worth noting that a major chunk of the online learning population is made up of working professionals. They may not have the luxury of taking exams at the same routine or schedule as full-time scholars. Online proctoring enables such professionals to set up their own personalized exam schedules that are best suitable to them.
Is Online Proctoring for all?
Online proctoring is for all academicians, students, and Universities. Basically, there are three types of users who can benefit from online proctoring.
Assessment providers provide ready-made assessments, test papers, and the likes for clients who follow a uniform pattern of tests. The uniformity of tests, be it in the pattern of questions, time duration or mode of examination makes it easy for assessment providers to conduct tests at scale. Pearson and IBM Kenexa are typical assessment providers.
Online education providers
Udemy, edX, Coursera have all become go-to destinations for online courses. There are also countless MOOC (massive open online course) providers who will need an online proctor to supervise their tests.
Professional and Chartered services like CPA, CIMA, healthcare professionals, fire safety professionals, etc have industry certifications that make their members qualified for service. These certification exams can be monitored by an online proctor. They can also maintain video records of the exams during which an individual was awarded certification. For example, mock fire drills for a fire safety inspector.
Prerequisites for online proctoring
Like any virtual transaction, online proctoring also has some prerequisites to function properly. They are:
- A PC/Laptop/Tablet/Smartphone
The device could either be provided by the University or the proctoring service or could belong to the student.
- A stable internet connection
A stable internet connection ensures that the student can take a test without any disruption while enabling the proctor to monitor the student continuously. Any discontinuity during the exam can result in disqualification.
- A webcam and mic
Online proctoring works with real-time video streaming. A webcam coupled with audio input is required to make online proctoring work.
- A browser that can support HD video streaming
Unlike conventional systems where installed software is the norm, in online proctoring, web browsers take over the process of streaming and orchestrating the exam process. Both the online proctor and the student would need a webcam and mic to conduct the exam smoothly.
The educational industry is at a cusp. Age-old traditions of conducting exams at University premises have become almost impossible in the near future. With social distancing norms in place, organizing tests at scale is going to be a difficult affair.
It is here that online proctoring can make a difference. It enables students and educational institutions to carry on their academic activities, especially that of taking exams, without being blocked by infrastructural challenges.
An online proctoring application can be a bridge that connects both sides of education. It will help educational institutions to overcome the most common challenges in imparting education. For students, it will provide an honest way to take tests and prove their mettle while enjoying the comfort of online education.