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What is Remote Proctoring?

Remote proctoring is a method of monitoring students using technology while they take an exam at a remote location. Pushed by the pandemic, many organizations are scrambling to implement remotely-proctored online testing. But how does remote exam proctoring work? And more importantly, how do we know the results of such testing are trustworthy?

If your organization is considering remote proctoring, consider the following.

How remote proctoring works

Traditionally, learners reported to a testing facility to complete credentialing tests. Test times were often limited and facilities were not always conveniently located. Some learners could even spend a day travelling just to reach their exam site. Even before the pandemic started, remote proctoring was steadily gaining adoption due to the significant efficiencies it yields.

Instead of travelling to a testing site, learners can now use an internet-connected device to take their exams. To protect the integrity of the test, student behaviour and the testing space is monitored by a webcam and microphone that records them as they complete the exam. Exam proctors may observe test takers live or review the footage later. 

One of our regulator clients migrated completely to remotely-proctored exams in the year before the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, they experienced no interruption in their licensing activities.

Robert Gardias, CEO, OLiver Solutions

Online testing makes exams more accessible, but also raises concerns about security and validation of results. The best remote proctoring solutions include safeguards to address these concerns. 

First, students should confirm their identity. Confirmation can be as simple as holding up a photo ID to the camera so the proctor can see that their face, the photo and their name match those on record. Automated systems may use facial or voice recognition to confirm student identity. Some even record keystroke patterns as an additional identity check. 

Next, the student may be asked to rotate their camera to sweep the room. This allows the proctor to verify that the student is alone and does not have access to notes. 

During the exam, the camera monitors and often records students to help identify any behaviours that look suspicious. The best solutions include a lockdown feature to prevent the student from accessing any other programs, web browsers, digital notes or to allow remote control access to the computer by a dishonest confederate. In Oliver’s case, we developed a small, industry-accredited application that students download and engage to secure the connection between their computers and our high-security exam servers.

Benefits and drawbacks of remote proctoring

In general, remote proctoring makes testing more accessible for students. It eliminates the inconvenience and expense of travelling to a testing center. This is particularly useful when social distancing measures make in-person testing more complicated. Offering a remote option keeps learners on schedule. They don’t have to wait for the pandemic to pass before renewing a credential or completing an exam. 

Of course, there are drawbacks as well. Students may not have immediate access to a webcam-equipped computer (although this is becoming increasingly rare). Access has become so common that many colleges and universities are already using the technology. More than 50 percent of the 312 institutions polled by EDUCAUSE said they’re currently using remote exam proctoring and another 23 percent are considering it. 

Some learners also struggle with the concept of remote proctoring. They may see it as unsettling to have someone watch them so closely in their homes. Suggesting an alternative suitable location or providing an in-person option might be useful in these cases. Most student concerns can be addressed by clearly explaining the process and ensuring students have a sense of control over the technology.

Three types of remote proctoring

Proctors may use live, recorded, or automated monitoring to assess the integrity of the testing process. All three monitor the testing environment and observe test takers for body language, eye movements, and use of outside materials. Each method brings both benefits and drawbacks. 

  1. Live remote proctoring – Proctors watch and listen as test-takers complete the exam. Under this model, the proctor may pause the exam when they notice a problem. For example, if a student appears to be looking off to the left of their monitor, the proctor may ask them to turn their camera toward that area of the room. Once the issue is resolved, the test can continue. Clearly, live remotely proctored exams can only take place when proctors are available. They are less flexible and often more expensive than the other two methods.
  2. Recorded proctoring – This method records and stores the exam footage for later review by proctors. Test takers don’t need to wait for a proctor to be available. The drawback is that proctors cannot immediately intervene if suspicious behaviour is detected and must disqualify an exam session entirely rather than issue a warning mid-exam. 
  3. Automated proctoring – Some systems use artificial intelligence to monitor test footage and flag potential problem areas. Proctors can then review flagged recordings. The potential challenges are similar to recorded proctoring. 

There are distinct advantages in computer-administered exams over classroom-based exams when it comes to exam security which will be covered in a separate blog.

How to use remote exam proctoring

Remote proctoring is a natural accompaniment to distance learning and helps to qualify the results of remote exams. It’s likely to become the standard for many corporate training programs. If you’re considering remote proctoring, these four considerations can help.

  • The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) in the U.S. has released guidelines for accredited programs that want to use live remote proctoring. These guidelines can be a valuable starting point for any organization considering this technology.
  • Choose a learning partner or proctoring service with a proven record of security and reliability. Technology security is of utmost importance with online testing because the personally identifiable information of students is being transmitted and to protect the integrity of the examination process.
  • Prepare learners by explaining the process so they can be more comfortable with the security measures involved. Make sure they understand which software they need to download and what behaviours might indicate cheating. Remind students that both they and the space where they take the test will be on camera. Make sure they have a strong internet connection and a webcam-equipped computer.
  • Assess results and make adjustments as necessary. Like any distance learning tool, remote exam proctoring works best when you refine it over time. New technology and changing needs could require you to reexamine your program. Be proactive to spot potential issues and keep your program secure. 

Choosing a reliable testing partner

Remote proctoring is just one element of a secure and reliable corporate training program. As an innovation leader in distance learning, Oliver provides 24/7 remote proctoring, Identicheck™ to verify each employee’s identity, and Digital Lock™ to secure their learning environment at work, home, or on the go. Contact an Oliver digital learning expert to learn more. 

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