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Examination and Proctoring | 10 min Read

Online Remote Proctoring: Features and Technology Powering Assessments

Introduction

Cheating is an act of deception that is intended or attempted to gain an undue advantage at a test/exam. Students who get caught while cheating will have to bear the brunt of the consequences of cheating. The advent of remote proctoring, with its assertion of protecting the sanctity of the exam, has helped in eliminating the external factors that caused cheating. This feature is easily integrable with any learning management system or website that needs to be proctored and imitates the function of an on-site proctor. Proctoring candidates from afar isn’t as far-fetched as it was decades ago. Now, keeping a check on candidates from far-flung areas via online proctoring technology lends credibility to assessments.

What Is a Proctored Exam?

A proctor is an individual who oversees an exam and monitors students during a formal assessment. The proctor has a significant effect on the validity of the exam and ensures honesty and integrity during the test invigilation process. In case a student violates the code of conduct, the proctor reports it to the institution without delay.

What Is Online Remote Proctoring?

Online remote proctoring is a feature that enables proctors to extend their reach beyond geographical boundaries, allowing them to assess candidates from any location, and that is subject to the availability of the computer and a high-speed internet connection. Combining technologies like online monitoring software and video streaming with the conventional methods of invigilation can work wonders to keep cheating and other unfair activities at bay.

The conventional way of conducting assessments comprises these steps: booking an exam hall/test center, informing candidates, supervising the exam, evaluating the test copies, and finally declaring results. With the changing times, evolved ideas and technologies paved the way for e-learning, which is perceived to be the future of learning. Marketing studies suggest that the global e-learning market is expected to reach $ 300 billion-plus by 2025. The proliferating e-learning industry is being used in various educational institutions and organizations alike. In reputed universities, students can access entire courses online, which can include multiple online assessments, assignments, interviews, and more. Similarly, leading organizations offer eLearning modules that are used throughout the employee lifecycle, from onboarding to training and learning and development.

Innovation in e-learning and continuously developing technologies have reinvented the way learners obtain knowledge and upgrade their professional skills. This innovative eLearning methodology has enabled learners to pursue a path of professional development,  acquire new skills, and earn degrees. If there’s a lack of transparency and accountability in the process, it would question the credibility of the eLearning system. That’s why remote online proctored exams are indispensable for institutions and corporations that make the most of this system. If it weren’t for online learning(for education/recruitment/training and development), then remote proctoring wouldn’t have gained popularity. Still, considering what is at stake for digital learning programs, the demand for proctoring has grown in recent times.

What Does It Mean When a Test Is Proctored Online?

In a remotely proctored exam, the process includes installing software that keeps track of the candidate’s test activity using his/her computer screen, utilizing the webcam to record every detail, and harnessing the power of AI to analyze the student’s actions during the exam. After the test gets completed, the data from the software is used in validating the examinee’s identity and maintaining the integrity of a testing environment.

Remote proctoring software offers unparalleled ease to proctors, helping them ensure the integrity of online assessments. The system allows invigilators to monitor candidates from afar and help them conduct time-bound exams with the utmost ease.

Types and Features of Online Remote Proctoring

Types of Online Remote Proctoring

Remote proctoring is broadly classified into three categories:

0_Types of Online Remote Proctoring

0_Live Online Proctoring

i) Live Online Proctoring

In live online proctoring, an experienced proctor keeps a check on candidates’ activities and monitors the audio-video, and screen sharing feeds in real-time. Under this setting, the proctoring service provider requires a person to sit in a remote location to monitor students’ activities, ensuring student authentication, and preventing any form of unfair practices. A live proctor invigilates candidates that are taking tests on an online platform for the entire duration of the test. Should the candidate indulge in cheating, the proctor can disable the test right away.

0_Recorded Proctoring

ii) Recorded Proctoring

In recorded proctoring, there’s no proctor involved in monitoring the entire session in real-time. Instead, the audio-visual and screen-sharing feeds of the candidates get recorded throughout the test. Proctor reviews the recorded test, plays back, fast-forwards (up to 3X to 20X speed), and then red flags any doubtful activity using annotations.

0_Advanced Automated Proctoring

iii) Advanced Automated Proctoring

Automated proctoring is a bit more advanced form of proctoring, which takes the invigilation process up a notch.  Here as well, the audio-visual and screen sharing feeds of the examinees are recorded during the test. Automated proctoring is the most advanced form of proctoring. Here again, the audio-video and screen share feeds of the test candidates are recorded during the test. Additionally, there’s a system that monitors the feeds through advanced audio-video analytics to detect any suspicious activity.

Features of Online Remote Proctoring

Here are some of the features that make online remote proctoring indispensable:

0_Pre-Authentication

i) Pre-Authentication:

This step takes place even before the test begins; the person needs to authenticate that he/she is the one who was scheduled for the assessment by using – OTP, Aadhaar/Biometric, IP. For registration to be successful, the candidate needs to pass the ID authentication procedure, which involves reading the fingerprints that match the biometrics with the scan submitted in the initial registration, facial recognition by taking the candidate’s picture and ID proof. This step completes the procedure, assuring that the person who registered is the one taking the exam.

0_Browsing Tolerance

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 in the browser.

0_Remotely Authorize and Control

iii) Remotely Authorize and Control:

  • Validate the proctor to pause and end the test.
  • Copy-paste is disabled to prevent leakage of content.
  • Behavioral alerts: If the candidate is seen indulging in some suspicious activity, then alerts in the form of red flags are raised.

0_Report Generation

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 summary of performance with the percentile and percentage as well as a sectional summary.
  • The proctor’s report of the candidates is two-fold: online and offline.

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

The offline version is just the downloaded version of the online report. Here instead of the video, the images of the person are captured.

With cost comes quality; the more the person invests in a product, the better are the features offered. Similarly, a recorded video of the entire process is an essential feature that comes in handy. The proctor can see the recorded activities from the beginning to the end, and highlight red flags whenever the candidate deviated from the screen.

Now that we have a clear picture of the various features, let us understand how an online platform works in an examination.

How Does Online Remote Proctor Work?

Remote proctoring is a two-faced affair – on one side, you have the candidate, and on the other is the proctor. Seen as a one-to-many relationship, the remote proctor, on average, invigilates 5-10 candidates; distance is not an issue as long as there is a high-speed internet connection. Now once we are ready with the pre-requisites, nothing should stop us from beginning the test. So here is a quick summary of how the test gets started and how it ends.

Initially, the candidate is required to fill in all fields, starting from a name, date of birth, age, and gender to an institution. Then comes the authorization page, where the test taker is expected to submit an ID proof, and here is where the facial recognition feature gets activated. In the same step, the microphone and webcam are tested to avoid errors during the assessment.

Once the assessment begins, the webcam of the computer switches on, and the candidate is ready to be proctored. The proctor can separately look at all the candidates in a grid view via webcam and can also keep a check on the tabs opened by them through another window. An image of the same has been shared below:

If any further information needs to be conveyed from or to the examinee, then the chat box at the bottom corner of the window suffices the needs.

Any suspicious movement on the candidate’s side notifies the proctor through the automatic behavioral alert, who then decides the call to action.

When the time is up, the assessment gets submitted automatically.

Lastly, the candidate is presented with the result, which is a comprehensive report with a question by question analysis. In a nutshell, once the assessment begins, the online platform starts registering every activity of the candidate with the proctor.

remote_proctoring_the_technology_that_gives_credibility_to_online_assessments_Online_Proctoring_Remote_Proctoring_Features_Mettl

Why Do We Need Online Remote Proctoring?

The growth in e-learning and the increase in online exams provide favorable grounds for the development of the new and better remote proctoring system. Many factors play a role in fueling this demand, and interpreting these factors would help you better understand the need for remotely proctored exams.

0_Cheating

i) Cheating

According to a survey conducted by the International Center for Academic Integrity, 64 % of college students confirmed cheating during examinations. The pressure of performing well under any condition makes cheating all too easy and all too common. People shape things to suit their needs and preferences, for them achieving their respective goals is the only important task at hand, how? They don’t care about it so much.

The exam days of having your friend just wink or nod at you confirming the right answer or the passing of chits are now numbered, and soon there will be none. Technology has now empowered the teachers, recruiters, and admins to keep a close eye on every action and reaction of the candidate. To curb these deceitful methods, various institutions are partnering with companies like Mettl that provide monitoring platforms.

Online Remote proctoring has disabled the right to cheat and has played a significant role in reducing this unlawful activity. Punishments are a definitive way to curb cheating. When people know that a remote proctor now is watching them, they are less likely to do something unwelcoming.

0_E-learning

ii) E-learning

MOOCs known as massive open online courses are e-learning programs that are easily accessible to anybody from anywhere. People can enroll in this online platform and equip themselves with new skills and subjects. In this age of digitalization, where distance learning is no longer about the correspondence courses, online education has played a pivotal role in changing the landscape of education. 

Various international universities have these open online courses which vary from short courses to masters programs. Expecting students to fly to the United States (for instance) each time they need to appear for an exam, is of course, superfluous. It is not only expensive, time-consuming but also not a suitable solution for anyone. Online proctoring is the best solution that anyone could have thought about – undeniably remote proctoring aids invigilators in conducting campus exams effectively.

0_Saves Time and Money

iii) Saves Time and Money

Step into any place during examination time, you’d just see the faculty who go scurrying from one end to another only to accommodate somehow as many test-takers as possible. This would be a time when all the rooms would be too crowded with furniture. The logistics are planned months in advance, followed by the time-consuming process of organizing for exams, not to mention the geographical limitations as well.

Having remotely proctored exams can significantly remove the logistics hassles, cut down on the evaluation time, and reach the far-flung candidates with the utmost ease.

0_The Ocean of Options

iv) The Ocean of Options

Remote proctoring offers a plethora of proctoring choices. The options are wide, ranging from 360-degree audio and video surveillance via the webcam, the live monitoring with human proctors keeping a tab at what is happening from a remote location to video recording of the entire examination. It is up to the people what features they want to enable or disable according to the specific assessment needs.

Online_Remote_Proctoring_Factors_Driving_Remote_Proctoring_Advantages

Use Cases of Online Remote Proctoring

remote_proctoring_the_technology_that_gives_credibility_to_online_assessments_Use_Cases_of_Online_Remote_Proctoring

0_Universities

i) The Use of Online Remote Proctoring in Universities

The motive of online remote proctoring is two-fold here: one pertaining to the faculty and the other for students.

  • For Teachers:

This facility facilitates the credibility of knowledge. Once institutions invest time training the faculty in advanced fields, they want to know how much did the audience grasp. For certifying the teachers, universities prefer conducting assessments, but now away from the pen-paper, online assessment is what they prefer. The feature of remote proctoring while conducting assessments helps to maintain a decorum of code and conduct.

  • For Students:

Universities use the remote monitoring platform while assessing their performance through online exams. Universities use this platform for both entrances as well as the semester/annual examinations. Two major concerns of institutions are cheating and student authentication. Trusted proctoring solutions have become essential tools to keep a close eye on students and evaluate performance carefully. 

0_Companies

ii) Companies

Recruitment is a crucial process, whose by-product is the perfect hire, but with conditions applied that you invest in this process wholeheartedly. All business leaders and human resources managers want to attract the best candidate, and what makes them choose the best one from the pool available? Online assessments are the answer, but what good will these do if they are not proctored well. Remote proctoring comes as a defining feature for all online assessments that are provided by companies like Mettl, which specializes in creating as well as conducting assessments on a proctored platform. For recruiters, it brings down the logistics requirement and hence the cost to hire and the time to hire.

Companies also use this feature for internal assessments of their employees for various purposes, such as training needs identification, learning, and development, skill gap analysis, etc. Whenever there is a need for online assessments, a remotely proctored platform comes in a combo offer, which should always be accepted for desired results.

0_Certification Programs

iii) Certification Programs

“Remote proctoring-the technology which gives credibility to certification.”

With the advent of digitalization, people have taken to online courses offered by various universities, institutions – Coursera, EdX has garnered the attention of the communities of learners. Distance is no longer a barrier; the internet has broken the geographical shackles and traveled far and wide to all places possible, offering education, knowledge, skills.

The validation of a skill learned comes from validated certification. The person required to give the test must do it honestly, and it is also crucial to ensure that these candidates do not resort to cheating.

0_Government

iv) Government 

The government runs with the social objective of welfare for its people, and so various schemes and programs are put in place to achieve the target. Let us explain this with an example where a company played a vital role in providing the proctoring solution.

Pmgdisha is an initiative by the government wherein Mettl is the technological partner. This program aims at digital literacy (how to make an account, how to make transactions via the internet, etc.), and once the training is over, assessments are conducted at Mettl’s platform with remote proctoring, and hence the results speak for themselves.

What are the Features of a Good Remote Proctoring Tool?

Given below are some basic things you should keep in mind while choosing your online remote proctoring tool:

  • Easy and quick configuration with any assessment engine. Choose a platform that integrates the proctoring service to any existing assessments and provides the candidate with a remarkable experience. For instance, Mettl allows you to run the tests on the online platform with a great proctoring service available for ensuring the efficacy of assessments. 
  • Robustness is the ability to withstand any adverse situation. Online monitoring involves lots of tasks and actions to be performed and shared with both the proctor and the candidate, such as video streamlining, desktop sharing, etc. If not appropriately implemented, some of these features can hinder the candidate’s performance. 
  • The more automation, the better is the quality. A lot of premium features are readily available, which make proctoring a seamless experience, depending on the clients’ needs. 
  • A detailed report which provides an in-depth analysis of the candidate’s performance with a section-wise evaluation keeps things transparent between both parties.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help?

Mercer| Mettl’s full suite of remote proctoring solutions 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. Mettl’s AI-powered proctoring platform helps in conducting secure virtual exams seamlessly and effortlessly. ProctorPLUS is one such cutting-edge tool that is driven by AI to provide a holistic solution that ensures the integrity of your assessments with a 95% accuracy rate in preventing cheating. It is customizable to your needs and ensures low costs, top-notch features, and flexibility of options. It comes pre-integrated with Mettl’s online assessment platform and can also be easily integrated into any human resource management system(HRMS).

You may also want to read: Online Test Proctoring: Comparing Online Proctoring Systems

Conclusion

The future of online remote proctoring looks bright and beautiful, spreading its wings in all directions and accommodating demands from all industries and sectors. There may come a time when it becomes so reliant on a technology that does not require internet access. The best is yet to come, and there is a lot that will happen between now and then. But till then, why not bask in the glory of a flourishing technology.

COVID Virtual Exams

Originally published December 4 2019, Updated June 18 2020

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