Hey there! Online exams are becoming the norm nowadays with schools, universities, and businesses switching to remote assessment models. This allows them to offer more flexible learning and reach students globally. However, I‘m sure you‘ve thought about whether these online tests are secure against cheating.
This is where proctoring software comes in handy! In this article, I‘ll explain more about how proctoring tools can help secure your online exams by preventing cheating and verifying student identities. I‘ll also provide an overview of the top software options available.
Why is Proctoring Important for Online Exams?
Let‘s first understand why proctoring is so critical for online assessments.
According to research by SoftwareSecure, over 90% of students admit to cheating during online tests, through methods like searching the web, texting friends, or accessing hidden study materials. Proctoring tools are the only real defense against such widespread cheating.
Here are some key reasons why proctoring is vital:
Deters Cheating Attempts: The presence of proctoring technology itself prevents around 30-40% of students from even attempting to cheat, as per testing bodies. Just the fear of getting caught is a huge deterrent!
Catches Sophisticated Cheating: Proctoring systems use techniques like webcam tracking, screen recording, and AI monitoring to catch even complex cheating behaviors. For instance, screen recordings easily identify use of unauthorized browsers or applications during a test.
Confirms Student Identity: Proctoring verifies the photo ID of test takers through methods like liveness checks and biometrics. This prevents frauds like someone else taking the test on a student‘s behalf.
Enables Remote Learning: Proctoring has made the transition to online education and assessments possible for schools and universities worldwide during the pandemic. It‘s a pivotal enabling technology.
Provides Fair Assessments: When some students cheat in unsupervised online tests, it biases results and evaluates students unfairly. Proctoring provides standardized supervision for all.
According to surveys by educational technology firm D2L, around 72% of institutions see proctoring as essential for online programs. It‘s a critical pillar to build trust in online credentials.
How Proctoring Software Works
Proctoring platforms use a combination of techniques to secure online tests:
Webcam Monitoring: The student‘s webcam is tracked throughout the exam to detect suspicious behaviors like unusual eye movements or people entering the room. Machine learning models can identify cheating behaviors with high accuracy.
Screen Recording: The test taker‘s screen is recorded throughout the session, ensuring they only focus on the exam screen itself without opening other applications. Automatic analysis of recordings can identify cheating.
Browser Lockdown: Secure browsers provided by the proctoring software prevent students from exiting the test window or accessing unauthorized websites/apps during the exam. This is crucial to prevent web searches.
AI Analysis: Advanced AI algorithms automatically analyze the webcam video, screen recording and other data points to detect anomalies and potential cheating with over 99% accuracy in the best systems.
Live Proctoring: For high-stakes exams, live proctors additionally monitor students in real-time and can intervene if they spot violations. This combines human oversight with tech.
Device Blocking: Access to other devices like mobile phones is blocked completely during the test duration, preventing avenues for cheating.
Such capabilities make proctoring solutions incredibly powerful at curbing cheating across various formats like multiple choice, coding exams, essay submissions and more.
Benefits of AI-based Proctoring
Intelligent proctoring systems offer significant advantages over purely human monitoring:
Low Cost: Once developed, AI-powered proctoring removes the need for human proctors and is very cost effective for large scale exams. According to ProctorU, it can reduce costs by around 40-60% compared to human proctors.
Scalability: A single proctor can monitor just 5-10 students effectively. AI systems can monitor thousands of students in parallel, making large exams viable.
Accuracy: AI and facial recognition offer around 99% accuracy in identifying potential cheating behaviors. Humans are more error prone.
Real-Time Alerts: Instant flags when suspicious activity is detected, allowing faster intervention if required.
Unbiased: Removes any possibility of biased proctors unfairly targeting some students over others. AI applies rules consistently.
Timing Flexibility: 24/7 availability of AI proctoring removes need to sync schedules with human proctors in various time zones.
Of course, the human element is still very important for really high-stakes exams to provide oversight on top of AI. But for most use cases, automated proctoring itself is very robust against even sophisticated cheating attempts.
Types of Online Exams and Required Proctoring Levels
Not all online exams require the same degree of proctoring though. Assessments can be classified into three broad categories based on cheating risk:
Low Risk Exams
- Basic knowledge tests with no consequence of cheating
- Formative assessments for self-learning
- Low stakes quizzes
- Automated proctoring provides sufficient deterrence and detection.
- Can even use honor code pledges without proctoring.
Medium Risk Exams
- College admission tests
- Low stakes professional certifications
- Skill evaluation for job applications
- Automated proctoring + review of flagged events recommended.
- Live proctors optional for random oversight.
High Risk Exams
- Final college/university assessments
- Standardized tests like GRE, GMAT
- High stakes professional certification exams
- Live proctoring + automated AI monitoring is highly recommended.
- Very stringent controls needed given the stakes.
Understanding your use cases is important to determine the right proctoring approach. Over-investment in proctoring can negatively impact user experience, while under-investment leaves loopholes for cheating.
Top Proctoring Software Vendors
Now let‘s look at some leading proctoring software platforms available and their key capabilities:
ProctorU is one of the pioneers in the proctoring space, offering a full spectrum of solutions. Students take tests using the ProctorU browser after completing identity checks.
For high stakes exams, you can assign dedicated one-on-one proctors who watch the exam screens and webcam feeds. ProctorU‘s automated proctoring solution called Logi uses AI to analyze recordings and detect suspicious behaviors.
Honorlock focuses on creating a minimally invasive experience through advanced AI proctoring. Students simply verify their ID and take tests on the Honorlock browser. The system uses eye tracking, facial recognition and movement analysis to detect anomalies without constant monitoring.
Proctorio integrates directly into your LMS and turns on proctoring capabilities system-wide. It offers a robust set of tools including video, audio and screen recording, device locking and AI monitoring. Machine learning algorithms analyze recordings post-exam to identify cheating incidents.
Examity offers a combination of live and automated proctoring. Students take exams using Examity‘s secure browser after identity verification. AI algorithms monitor the exam in real-time and cue live proctors to intervene when violations are detected.
Mercer Mettl provides AI-driven automated proctoring combined with expert human proctors. The machine learning-based system performs continuous monitoring and escalates high risk incidents to the human proctors in real-time for immediate intervention.
ProctorExam allows extensive customization of proctoring rules and workflows to support diverse use cases. It uses smartphone cameras in addition to laptop webcams for better room and desk viewing. Supports live monitoring, recording and automated options.
There are many more good platforms, including established players like ExamSoft, Proctortrack, PSI Online Proctoring etc. Each offers a slightly different approach, but automated AI monitoring combined with expert review seems to be the sweet spot for security, affordability and experience.
Implementing Proctoring: Key Considerations
If you decide to implement proctoring technology, here are some best practices to follow:
Provide clear policies and training to students on use of proctoring and the allowedExamity process. Transparency is key.
Ensure proper proctor training as well on privacy practices, interventions, escalations etc. They are the human face of the system.
Establish exam rules and configure proctoring system accordingly like use of calculators, scratch paper, bathroom breaks etc.
Check for LMS integration capabilities to enable proctoring across all assessments with minimal effort.
Enable process for students to appeal flagged events if they feel AI incorrectly marked them cheating.
Test across multiple devices, browsers, camera types etc. to catch compatibility issues.
Pilot first with low risk exams to iron out issues before expanding to high stakes tests.
Monitor system performance during first few live exams and have tech support on standby.
Gather student feedback post-exams to improve experiences.
With the right software and implementation approach, proctoring can really help make online assessments credible. The key is finding the optimal balance between security, affordability, privacy and user experience for your specific context. I hope this guide gives you a good overview of the options available! Let me know if you need any other information.