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Online remote proctoring is the future. Here’s all you need to know if you plan to conduct secure, scalable and cheating-free remotely proctored exams.

Examination and Proctoring | 10 min Read

Online Remote Proctoring: Key to Technology-Powered Assessments

Introduction

Cheating is an act of deception intended to gain an undue advantage in a test or an exam. The advent of remote proctoring solutions has helped eliminate the external factors that lead to cheating. This feature can be easily integrated onto any learning management system or website to be proctored and imitates an on-site proctor. Now, monitoring candidates from far-flung areas via online proctoring technology is lending credibility to assessments.

What Is a Proctored Exam?

A proctored exam or undertaking remote proctoring is associated with having an individual (proctor) overseeing an exam and monitoring the students. A proctor significantly impacts an exam’s validity and integrity with airtight invigilation. In case a student violates the code of conduct, a proctor can discontinue the test and report the matter to the institution conducting the assessment.

What Is Online Remote Proctoring?

Online remote proctoring refers to a feature that enables proctors to extend their reach across geographies, allowing them to assess candidates from any location, subject to the availability of a computer and a high-speed internet connection. Combining technologies, such as online monitoring software and video streaming, works wonders in clamping down on unfair activities, with conventional invigilation methods.  

The conventional assessment method comprises the following steps: booking an exam hall/test center, informing candidates, supervising the exam, evaluating the test copies, and declaring the results. Evolved ideas and technologies have now paved the way for e-learning, which is perceived as the future of learning. According to Forbes, Research and Markets forecasts suggest e-learning will grow to US$325 billion by 2025. The proliferating e-learning industry is being used in various educational institutions and organizations alike. Students can access entire courses online in reputed universities, including multiple online assessments, assignments, interviews, and more. Similarly, leading organizations use e-learning modules throughout the employee life cycle, from onboarding to training and learning and development.

Innovation in e-learning and continually developing technologies have reinvented how learners obtain knowledge and upgrade professional skills. This innovative e-learning methodology has enabled learners to pursue professional development, acquire new skills and earn degrees. The e-learning system’s credibility will be questioned if the process lacks transparency and accountability. That’s why remote online proctored exams are indispensable for institutions, and remote proctoring assessments are crucial for corporations. If it weren’t for online learning (for education/ recruitment/ training and development), remote proctoring solutions such as remotely proctored online exams or remote proctoring assessments wouldn’t have gained popularity. Yet, the demand for proctoring has grown in recent times, considering the stakes involved in digital learning programs.

What Does It Mean When a Test Is Proctored Online?

In a remotely proctored online exam, an institute or organization installs an online proctoring software that tracks candidates’ test activity using their computer screens. It utilizes the webcams to record every detail and harnesses AI to analyze their activities. The online proctoring software data is used to validate the examinee’s identity and maintain the testing environment’s integrity. 

Remote proctoring software offers unparalleled ease to the proctors, helping them maintain the online assessments’ integrity. The system allows invigilators to monitor candidates from afar and easily conduct time-bound exams.

Types of Online Remote Proctoring Solutions

Remote proctoring solutions are broadly classified into three categories:

Types_of_online_remote_proctoring

i) Live Online Proctoring

Live online proctoring means an experienced proctor monitors candidates’ activities and the audio-video, and screen sharing feeds in real-time. In this setting, the proctoring service provider requires a person to be present at a remote location to monitor students’ activities, ensuring student authentication and preventing unfair practices. A live proctor invigilates candidates taking the tests on an online platform for the test’s entire duration. A proctor can immediately disable the test if the candidate indulges in cheating. 

ii) Recorded Proctoring

No proctor is involved in monitoring the entire session in real-time. Instead, the candidates’ audio-visuals and screen-sharing feeds are recorded throughout the test. Proctors review the recorded test, playback, fast-forward (up to 3X to 20X speed), and red flag doubtful activities using annotations.

iii) Advanced Automated Proctoring

Automated proctoring is a more advanced form of proctoring, which takes the invigilation process up a notch. The examiness’ audio-visuals and screen sharing feeds are also recorded during the test. Automated proctoring is the most advanced form of proctoring. Additionally, a system monitors the feeds through advanced audio-video analytics to detect suspicious activities.

Features of Online Remote Proctoring Software

Here are some features that make online remote proctoring software indispensable:

i) Pre-Authentication:

This step occurs even before the test begins. Examinees need to authenticate their identity by using an OTP, Aadhaar/Biometric or IP. Candidates need to clear the ID authentication procedure to register successfully, which involves reading the fingerprints that are matched with the biometrics in the initial registration scan. It also involves facial recognition by taking the candidates’ pictures and ID proof. These steps complete the procedure, assuring that genuine candidates have registered and are taking the exam.

ii) Browsing Tolerance:

Once enabled, this feature detects and ends the test for the examinees who browse away from the test window and open multiple tabs on the browser.

iii) Remotely Authorize and Control:

Validates the proctor to pause and end the test. Copy-paste is disabled to prevent examination content leak. Behavioral alerts: Red flag alerts are raised if the candidates are seen indulging in suspicious activities.

iv) Report Generation:

This feature includes two parts - one for the candidate and the other for the proctor. The candidate’s report contains an in-depth performance summary, with the percentile, percentage and a sectional summary. The proctor’s report of the candidates is two-fold - online and offline.

The online version has more sections added to those in the candidate’s report, which are – difficulty-level analysis based on assessment and skills. There is also a section on the detailed question-wise analysis. The live video recording is also available in this section.

The offline version is merely the downloaded version of the online report- where instead of the video, the person’s image is captured.

With cost comes quality; higher investment in a product yields more sophisticated features. Similarly, a recorded video of the entire process is a beneficial feature. The proctor can view the recorded activities from the beginning to the end and red flag whenever candidates have deviated from the screen.

We have comprehensively discussed the various features. Now let us understand how an online platform works in an examination.

How Does an Online Remote Proctor Work?

Remote proctoring is a two-sided affair, involving a candidate and a proctor. Seen as a one-to-many relationship, a remote proctor, on average, invigilates 5-10 candidates. The distance is immaterial, given the provision of high-speed internet connection. The test can commence with all the prerequisites in place. So here is a quick summary of the commencement of a remote online proctored exam.

Initially, the candidate must fill in all fields, including the name, date of birth, age and gender. Then comes the authorization page, where the test-taker submits an ID proof – the facial recognition feature gets activated here. In the same step, the microphone and webcam are tested to avoid errors during the remotely proctored online exam.

The computer’s webcam switches on, and the candidate is ready to be proctored once the remote online proctored exam or remote proctored assessment begins. The proctor can separately monitor all the candidates in a grid view via webcam, besides monitoring their tabs using another window. An image of the same has been shared below:

The chat box at the bottom corner of the window is used if any further information needs to be conveyed from or to the examinee. Any suspicious candidate movement is flagged, and the proctor is notified through the automatic behavioral alert, who decides the course of action. The live chat option enables the proctor to interact with students to assuage their doubts during the remote online proctored exam. 

Additionally, when the time is up, the remote proctored exam is evaluated, and the results are automatically submitted. Lastly, the candidate is presented with the results, a comprehensive report consisting of a question-wise analysis. 

In a nutshell, once the assessment begins, the remote proctored online solutions integrated onto the online platform registers candidates’ every activity.

online platform registers candidates

Why Do We Need Online Remote Proctoring?

Remotely proctored means that education and learning have no boundaries. Growth in e-learning and an increase in online exams have created a favorable ground for developing improved remote proctoring systems. Several factors influence fueling this demand, and interpreting them would help you better understand the need for a remotely proctored examination.

As per a survey conducted by the International Center for Academic Integrity, 64% of college students confirmed cheating during examinations.

i) Cheating

The pressure of performing well makes cheating a common phenomenon. People shape things to suit their needs and preferences, and achieving their goals takes precedence over all else. The means to the end is often inconsequential. The days of having your friend helping you confirm the right answer or pass chits are numbered, and would soon be behind us. Technology has now empowered teachers, recruiters and administrators to closely monitor candidates’ actions and reactions. Institutions globally are partnering with companies, such as Mercer | Mettl, that provide monitoring platforms to eliminate online proctored exam cheating to curb such practices. Several online remote proctoring solutions have already clamped down on cheating or are playing a significant role in reducing such activities. Students are more mindful of their activities, knowing that a remote proctor is monitoring them.

ii) E-learning

MOOCs, known as massive open online courses, are easily accessible e-learning programs. People can enroll in this online platform and learn new skills and subjects. In the digitalization era, where distance learning is no longer about correspondence courses, online education is playing a pivotal role in altering the education landscape. Various international universities have these open online courses, which vary from short courses to masters programs. It is superfluous to expect students to fly to the United States (for instance) each time to appear for an exam. It is expensive, time-consuming and unsuitable for most.

iii) Saves Time and Money

Faculty are often trying to accommodate the most number of test-takers at an examination center. The logistics are planned, followed by a time-consuming process of organizing for exams, not to mention the geographical limitations. A remotely proctored examination can significantly reduce logistics hassles and evaluation time and reach candidates in far-flung areas with ease.

iv) Multiple Options

A remote proctoring approach offers a plethora of proctoring choices. The options range from 360-degree audio and video surveillance via webcam, live monitoring with human proctors, keeping a tab on the activities from a remote location to a video recording of the entire examination. It is an individual choice to enable or disable the desired features based on a specific assessment’s needs to eliminate online proctored exam cheating.

Benefit of remotely proctored exam

Who_need_online_remote_proctoring

i) The Use of Online Remote Proctoring in Universities

Online remote proctoring has a two-fold motive – one concerning the faculty and the other the students.

  • For Teachers:

This facility facilitates the credibility of knowledge. Once institutions invest time training the faculty in advanced fields, they also wish to ascertain their knowledge. Universities prefer conducting online remote exams and assessments to certify teachers. The feature of remote proctoring while conducting assessments helps maintain the decorum. 

  • For Students:

Universities use the online remote proctoring feature during both entrance and semester/annual examinations to negate their cheating and impersonation concerns. Remote proctoring exams, with a trusted proctoring solution provider, ensure a smooth examination process by monitoring students closely, eliminating unwanted instances, and careful performance evaluation. 

ii) Companies

A perfect hire is a by-product of the recruitment process, conditional to your investment in the process. All business leaders and human resources managers want to attract the best candidate. But what makes them choose the best from the pool available? Online assessments are the answer, but they must be proctored well. A remote proctoring approach is a defining feature for all online assessments provided by companies such as Mercer | Mettl, specializing in creating and conducting assessments on a proctored platform. It reduces the logistics required for the recruiters, thus also reducing the cost and time to hire.

Apart from remote proctoring exams, companies, too, leverage the remote proctoring software for remote proctoring assessments. They do it for their employees for various purposes, such as training needs identification, learning and development and skill gap analysis, etc. 

iii) Certification Programs

Remote proctoring technology lends credibility to remotely proctored certification exams. With the advent of digitalization, people have taken to online courses offered by various universities and institutions. They have garnered the attention of the learner community. Distance is no longer a barrier; the internet enables offering education, knowledge and skills, removing all restrictions in online education. 

But, a certification alone can validate a skill learned online. Test takers must take their exams diligently, and it is equally crucial that they do not cheat.

iv) Government 

The government must provide social welfare to its people, and various schemes and programs are designed to achieve them. Let us explain this with an example where a company played a vital role in providing proctoring solutions.

PMGDisha is a GoI initiative, with Mercer | Mettl as the technology partner. This program aims at digital literacy (how to create an account, how to transact via the internet, etc.), and assessments are conducted at Mercer | Mettl’s platform after the training, with remote proctoring to validate their learning.

What are the Features of a Good Remote Proctoring Tool?

Given below are some basics you must consider while choosing your online remote proctoring tool:

  • Easy and quick configuration with any assessment engine: Choose a platform that integrates its proctoring services to any existing assessment and provides the candidate with a seamless experience. For instance, Mercer | Mettl allows you to run the tests on the online platform with a great proctoring service to ensure the assessments’ efficacy. 
  • Robustness to withstand thousands of concurrent exams without impacting the candidate experience: Online monitoring involves several tasks and actions to be performed and shared with both the proctor and the candidate, such as video streamlining, desktop sharing, etc. Some of these features can hinder the candidates’ performance without proper implementation. Additionally, a proctoring solution provider’s ability to scale should not hamper the candidates’ examination experience. Mercer| Mettl’s software is adept at meeting large-scale, high-stakes exam requirements. The robust technology has a proven track record of conducting 100,000 successful proctored assessments in one day. 
  • Greater automation ensures better quality. Several premium features are readily available, making proctoring a seamless experience, depending on the clients’ needs.
  • Use of modern technology such as AI to detect cheating accurately: The intelligent algorithm is configured to flag various suspicious cases, such as the non-visibility of face/ presence, detection of a mobile phone, additional person, a distracted eye movement, etc. Mercer | Mettl’s futuristic AI algorithm is trained with more than 2.8 million proctored assessments. It can detect up to 18 dynamic digressions with over 95% accuracy.
  • Trained and experienced human proctors, when combined with AI proctoring, ensure a robust process in high-stake exams. 
  • The ability to provide a seamless user experience for students and proctors alike. 
  • A detailed report provides an in-depth analysis of the candidates’ performance, with a section-wise evaluation to maintain transparency.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help

Mercer| Mettl’s full suite of online remote proctoring services is secure, scalable, cost-effective and customizable as per client’s needs. Online proctoring caters to a full spectrum of examinations, from pre-employment assessments and entrance tests to mid-semester exams. Mercer | Mettl’s AI-powered proctoring platform helps conduct secure virtual exams seamlessly and effortlessly. Its remote proctoring services include ProctorPLUS, a cutting-edge tool driven by AI to provide a holistic solution ensuring your assessments’ integrity, with a 95% accuracy in predicting and preventing cheating. It is customizable to your needs and ensures low-cost, top-notch features and flexibility in options. Its proprietary algorithm- Credibility Index – provides an excellent and most relevant score of a candidate’s integrity to the administrators. The auto-generated report highlights insights from AI flags, proctoring session’s recorded details and the test-finish status. This host of online proctoring services come pre-integrated with Mercer | Mettl’s online assessment platform, and can also be easily integrated onto any Human Resource Management System (HRMS). The proctoring tool can also be provided as a service and can be easily integrated onto client systems such as Moodle, etc.

Given below are answers to the frequently asked questions that address common queries of universities and organizations, concerning conducting remotely proctored exams, using online remote proctoring software.

Can you cheat on an online proctored exam?

You can not cheat in an online proctored exam, provided the proctoring service provider offers stringent anti-cheating measures. The advancements in remote proctoring tools have made it near impossible for assessees to indulge in malicious behavior. Mercer | Mettll’s online remote proctoring services negate remote proctoring cheating, ensuring that virtual remote exams occur in a secure environment. 

What is a remote proctored internet-based test meaning?

A remote proctored internet-based test mean that a remote proctored test mode requires a basic internet connection and a webcam-supported computer to initiate the remote proctoring test. 

What is a remote proctored online exam? 

A remote proctored online exam enables test-taking and test-hosting from any part of the world. Remotely proctored means a proctor can employ advanced anti-cheating technology that negates unwarranted activities in a remote proctored test/exam. One can easily take the online proctored exam at home. 

How Do Proctored Online Exams Work?

This is how proctored online exams work: 

-Remote proctoring enables an assessor to invigilate remote proctored online tests from any part of the world. 

-Various cutting-edge tools in the market, such as Mercer | Mettl’s Remote Proctoring, have made it feasible for the proctor to carefully observe an online exam in real-time and view its recording at their convenience.

Can a remote proctor see your screen?

A remote proctor cannot see your screen during a remote proctoring test. But, the proctoring solutions provider does provide the proctor with tools that can restrict any on-screen activity. One such remote proctoring tool is Mercer | Mettl’s intelligent algorithm- Mettl Secure Browser–  that monitors an examinee’s screen and eliminates the possibility of remote proctored cheating on the computer. 

How are proctored exams monitored? 

Here’s how a remotely proctored exam is monitored: 

-It is invigilated by an approved, unbiased person ( a proctor) to ensure that there is no cheating, who maintains the integrity of the online examination process. 

-Right from ascertaining the authenticity of candidates to overseeing every step of the exam process, a proctor is solely responsible for administering the entire remote proctored exam.

-With the advent of online proctoring services, digital technology is cutting down examiners’ burdens by providing end-to-end proctoring solutions.

What is a remote online proctored exam?

Remote online proctored exams means that the remote proctored test mode can be accessed from anywhere in the world, provided the test-taker has access to a computer and internet. Additionally, in a remote proctored test, the audio and video have to be switched on during the remotely proctored test-taking process.

Conclusion

The future of online remote proctoring exams means the possibility of not letting boundaries tie you down. The remote proctoring approach is gaining traction and acceptability across industries and sectors. There may come a time when it becomes so reliant on a technology that may not require internet access. The best is yet to come, and much will change between now and then. Let us make the most of this reliable and scalable technology to validate education, examinations and learning in equal measure.

Originally published December 4 2019, Updated September 22 2020

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