Universities are the biggest beneficiaries of Canada’s growth in online education.
They make up more than 90% of an online learning market that’s projected to grow by an annual CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 12.52% between 2023 and 2027.
Adding online courses to your curriculum, you and other university leaders may feel increased pressure to maintain the integrity of your testing and the credibility of your institution’s reputation. At the same time, you still have budgets to respect and the needs of a student body to attend to.
So it’s not surprising that so many universities are calling on remote proctoring solutions to come to their aid.
What is remote proctoring?
In a remote proctoring solution, software and computer tools support or replace the work that a human proctor does.
While remote proctoring solutions come in a variety of formats, it’s reassuring to note that a well-designed solution is easy to learn and use. Such a solution would carry out the following actions:
- Confirm the identity of the student (see point #3 below)
- Monitor and control the tools the student can access (e.g., browser tabs, copy/paste functions, re-entry into the exam so that it’s performed in one setting, and so on).
- Record the video, audio, and desktop of the test session.
- Review the test session data (via AI or human) to ensure that the conditions of the test were respected.
Here are five reasons why so many universities are making remote proctoring an essential part of their online assessments.
1. Offer students convenient testing
With traditional in-person testing at fixed locations and times, students had to make arrangements for travel, work leaves, or babysitters to make themselves available for the assessment.
On the other hand, remote proctoring enables the student to take the test from their preferred location, and potentially at a time convenient to them.
By saving students time and hassle, you respond to a widespread need.
Meanwhile, you have the peace of mind of knowing that your test-takers’ knowledge and skills are being evaluated securely.
Furthermore, your capacity to give assessments has expanded considerably because you’re no longer constrained by the physical capacity of test facilities and the availability of proctors.
Concerns about privacy
It’s true that some students and those unfamiliar with remote proctoring may have concerns about the solution being “invasive” of their privacy:
- What information is being recorded?
- What data is the university keeping track of?
- Exactly how long will the data be kept?
- To whom is the data accessible?
- Have the obtained data been securely stored?
These are legitimate worries. It’s crucial to keep in mind that the top solution providers adhere to widely accepted privacy standards. Moreover, they abide by an explicit list of rights for students and institutions.
Student data is also safely stored by reputable solution providers. While no digital information is completely safe from attack, encrypted information collected in well-managed IT systems offers industry-standard protection. Furthermore, top-tier companies only preserve this data for a limited time.
2. Streamline the costs of testing
Consider the costs of leasing, maintaining, and running the physical locations where your students can take exams. Include the time it takes to recruit and coordinate proctors.
The majority of these expenses can be eliminated with a remote proctoring solution. Furthermore, with the right remote proctoring solution, your exam administrator’s job is made much easier by a control panel that delivers the following:
- A user-friendly interface
- A clear view into the proctoring process, including information on whether sessions are ongoing, finished, cancelled, or need to be escalated, etc.
- Session-review tools that let you assess the test-taking session’s record, the flags raised, and the proctor’s numerous recordings and notes
- Interfaces in multiple languages for administrators and test-takers
3. Confirm student identity with ease
A well-designed remote proctoring solution confirms a test-taking student’s identity in a two-step process:
- Verifies that the test-taker’s identification information and exam code match the profile in your database.
- Compares the student’s face to the image on the supplied photo ID, and records this proof.
4. Scale your testing with automated remote proctoring
When your remote proctoring solution is automated, you can easily scale your ability to deliver tests.
With automated remote proctoring, suspicious behavior is monitored and flagged by artificial intelligence (AI).
Some providers may also offer you the option of having the test-session recordings reviewed by a trained proctor. Since no proctoring solution is perfect, choosing the human proctor review can help reduce some of the false positives that may arise from AI-only solutions.
In fact, many students have a misconception about these false positives that may increase their anxiety during a test: they falsely believe that the software is designed to point an accusing finger at them. Several factors may contribute to this anxiety:
Intrusive flagging⎯It’s true that some remote proctoring solutions make it disruptively known that suspicious test-taker conduct has occurred (e.g., not looking at the screen).
Other solutions, though, like XP from uxpertise, quietly record this conduct in the background and enable a trained human proctor to assess the situation.
Behavioral tics⎯We all have tics, which are uncontrollable twitches, motions, or repetitive noises. Some are more obvious than others. Hence, some false positives may occur during a test session.
Some students may feel anxious about the possibility of such a false positive. This anxiety only adds to the already elevated stress most students feel before and during testing.
Random voices⎯When a younger family member or a pet disrupts the silence of the exam session, the behavior may be recorded as suspicious.
It’s important to keep in mind that better remote proctoring systems involve human judgment. So the final call on test-taker misconduct is made by a school leader familiar with the student. These leaders don’t want to make baseless accusations of wrongdoing because the follow-up will cost them time, money, and headaches.
5. Generate results and certificates quickly
When universities work with remote proctoring solutions that are seamlessly integrated with their learning management systems (LMS), test results and certificates can be issued automatically.
This turnaround is especially fast for purely multiple-choice tests — which are automatically graded — and students with “clean” test-session recordings.
Student test-session recordings that have been flagged for suspicious behavior need to wait for human review. If inappropriate activity is judged as such, then you as the leader will have all the proof you need to back up your next course of action.
As with any powerful tool, remote proctoring requires that both students and leaders receive some instruction on how it works. That way concerns and potential misconceptions can be addressed with facts and information.
Once that foundation of knowledge is in place, both universities and students can reap the benefits of this convenient and powerful tool.