How remote online proctoring can reshape how your educational organisation sees assessment

Brent Lacey|October 18, 2019

The thought of doing your university exams in the comfort of your own home might have seemed far-fetched 10 years ago. But if you consider how much technology has changed workplace communications, it’s no longer a stretch.

After email took over the fax, video-enabled chat programs like Skype, Teams and Zoom took over telephony. And virtual chat programs now replace traditional face to face meetings. If tech like this can take our modern workplace beyond the limits of geography, shouldn’t it be changing the way we deliver and participate in education and exams too?

It already is.

Educational institutions have been integrating video-enabled technology into how they deliver distance education. But the increasing adoption of online assessment platforms and popular LMS systems has also seen the rise of online proctoring, which expands on this “virtual meeting room” technology. This niche offering, in the age of convenience, has seen rapid early adoption in the education and certification industries.

So, what is online proctoring?

Online proctoring is when an online exam or assessment is digitally supervised and administered via the internet and the test-taker’s web camera.

Made possible by a combination of AI face-recognition software and an inbuilt web camera, it promises huge opportunities within the computer-based training (CBT) sector. It means that online education and certification providers – who are already virtual teachers – can now be virtual invigilators, able to remotely identify and certify candidates, no matter their location.

How does it work?

Online proctoring records every single exam session from start to finish, and not just via video: it also takes a record of audio, desktop screen and chat logs – safeguarding measures that protect both students as well as proctors.

Video-enabled software automatically supervises and monitors the entire exam session, including any non-standard occurrences – such as a candidate leaving the room or leaning away from the view of their web camera.

What about protecting against cheating?

Safeguards in the software make cheating arguably as hard as ¬– or even harder – than having a physical examiner present in the room. Because it allows for remote monitoring of a candidate and the contents of their PC when completing an online assessment, online proctoring prevents cheating and verifies the identity of a candidate with facial recognition and AI-assisted incident recognition.

Adopting the virtual exam room: the safeguards

Online proctoring providers have thought of everything to thoroughly onboard candidates and the test administrators and ensure that the rules of the “virtual exam room” are understood. Just like in a busy bricks-and-mortar classroom, activity is monitored and incidents are logged – but with online proctoring this happens with the help of modern technology.

Candidates’ identification is still checked “at the door”, in the form of identification and facial scanning. This uniquely registers the applicant taking the test.

AI-based remote proctoring also means that suspicious behaviour is flagged to help you determine when a candidate may be violating the rules outlined in your test. This can include:

  • Identifying when your candidate leaves the room
  • Identifying when additional people are in the room
  • Tracking suspicious activity where your candidate may be reviewing restricted content. For example, the technology tracks the test-taker’s eye and head movements, so if they look down for a certain period, this would be flagged as an incident.
  • Ability to track potential unauthorised use of a mobile phone during an exam

Additional controls: lockdown features to consider

Remote proctoring services and software offer more features and capabilities that give you additional control and the ability to intervene in a test scenario. Such features allow your organisation to interact and audit the online exams in a “hands on” way.

Depending on your situation, your organisation can pair the right type of proctoring service and level of software lockdown, using a combination of the following key feature sets:

Auto proctoring: Heavily assisted by AI, this flags suspicious incidents and offers the extensive ability to monitor a greater number of candidates at once. Depending on the level of software lockdown you choose, the program can detect what’s happening on the screen and in front of the camera. It can detect the use of external applications if the test is not locked down, for example if a test-taker someone opening a browser and browsing the web or another application during the test. The software takes screenshots of this activity if it occurs.

Live proctoring: By incorporating a “real human” with the technology, live proctoring offers the best of both worlds. With live proctoring, a real human staff member sits and monitors the video feeds and can intervene in a candidate’s test in real-time if necessary, giving an additional layer of security and guidance to candidates as they progress through a test or exam. A live proctor can be used along with either auto proctoring or with AI-assisted alerts.

Record and review proctoring: This method offers extra security by allowing for a human to review an exam and exam log. This option allows for the extra security but also the convenience of candidates not needing to set fixed times to coordinate the invigilator’s availability with one of the candidates.

Why take the leap?

Being able to meet candidates’ expectation for online learning and training (and assessment) to be available anywhere anytime, is a huge reason for the rise in popularity of online proctoring.

The other benefits include:

  • Cutting logistics costs (physical exam delivery and transporting of papers and staff to and from exam centres);
  • Cutting marking and results turnaround times;
  • Allowing your educational organisation to extend its reach into new markets, beyond the barriers of geographical distance.
  • The ability to easily scale up and scale down during peak testing periods. Secure testing is often required seasonally or during fluctuating recruitment and training drives for organisations.

In short…

As a plug-and-play technology, online proctoring is designed to integrate with your existing infrastructure. It is an extension of the cost-saving, efficiency-improving technology options available to educational organisations. It saves the comparative burden – time as well as financial – of upgrading and networking computer labs or extending secure testing to remote offices or remote exam centres.

Maintaining the integrity of your organisation’s exams and tests while providing convenience to your candidates comes with its own challenges that need to be carefully considered. In our next blog, find out more about best practice when adopting online proctoring, and how to ensure a seamless integration with your online assessment platform.

Chat to us today about how online proctoring could work for your organisation.

About the Author

Brent Lacey

Product Manager, Janison

View more blog posts

Subscribe to the Janison Blog

Subscribe to the Janison Blog.

Stay on top of the latest education technology trends with email updates about newly published blog posts, guides and more.