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Is Online Exam Monitoring or Remote Invigilation the Way Forward for Academia?

Examination and Proctoring | 8 Min Read

Is Online Exam Monitoring or Remote Invigilation the Way Forward for Academia?

Introduction

As we gear up for a relatively busy examination season, we can’t help but ponder over the invigilation system considered by universities and institutes across the globe. Several of them continue with the traditional exam monitoring system, despite being aware of the numerous unprecedented challenges in conducting examinations. Social distancing, prolonged closures, and other one-size-fits-all protective measures necessitate curtailing physical presence during exams. Yet educationalists have been unable to reform their exam monitoring strategy in favor of online exams.

If we can reconceptualize and adopt new teaching methodologies, now more than ever, why can’t we consider an alternative exam process? Hence, in this blog, we’ve discussed the emerging techniques of monitoring exams and their continual evolution.

 

What is The Traditional Exam Invigilation?

The traditional exam invigilation is where an invigilator conducts exams at physical testing centers. There is a fixed date, time and venue for the exam wherein the invigilator and the applicants are face-to-face during the supervision. Traditional invigilation requires a ratio of one invigilator for approximately 36 candidates.

 


The Traditional Exam Invigilation Process

The traditional process of exam invigilation requires an invigilator to undertake the following activities:


Mark the attendance and authenticate students appearing for the exam


Trained invigilators verify legitimate examinees using previous registrations records, valid photo ID cards and hall tickets. This verification eliminates proxy sitters or impersonation instances, a common occurrence in the high-stakes entrance and recruitment exams. 


Monitor applicants during the examination 


Invigilators maintain strict supervision during the examination process to avoid chances of cheating or malpractice. They monitor applicants’ behavior for suspicious gestures such as whispering or eye-balling for help. They also inspect them for any external cheating aids such as chits, mobile phones or smartwatches, to name a few.


Preserve the integrity of the examination process


The process of strict exam monitoring ensures preserving the integrity of exams. It lends credibility to the process, maintains the institute’s reputation, and ensures the academia that those who have cleared the exam are worthy students.

While this traditional exam monitoring process is a trusted method, certain significant challenges are associated with it.

 

Limitations of Traditional Exam Monitoring


The traditional exam invigilation system’s shortcomings are not restricted to the pointers, as mentioned earlier. Hence, educationists with a stricter focus on online exam monitoring systems believe the time mandates embracing the change. 

The methods of exam monitoring have become more sophisticated with technology. With automation and algorithms, remote invigilation has resolved several issues associated with the traditional exam invigilation. Apart from being a considerable time and cost-saving innovation, remote invigilation offers a more systematic and practical structure.

 


What Is An Online Exam Monitoring System?

Remote invigilation enables monitoring from anywhere, globally, using a webcam and microphone compatible computer, an uninterrupted internet connection and a host of cheating deterrent technologies.

With remote invigilation, applicants can take their exam at a place of their choosing, using a computer, instead of a pen-and-paper exam with other applicants at a designated exam venue.

 

How Are Online Exams Invigilated?


If you’re wondering how online invigilation works, then
online exams can be invigilated in the following ways:


Automated Online Exam Monitoring 


Automated online exam monitoring is
an AI-enabled automated online exam invigilation that helps supervise online without human intervention. It is an advanced form of remote invigilation that ensures minimal chances of error and 95 percent accuracy in predicting distractions or suspicious activities.


Live Online Exam Monitoring 


Live online exam monitoring
is a real life-like exam setting where an online invigilator undertakes remote exam invigilation akin to an actual classroom setting. They monitor the students in real-time and intervene upon observing anything suspicious. 


Professional Record and Review Monitoring 


During the record and review exam monitoring process, the screen share and audio-video feeds of the examinees are recorded throughout the test. An exam administrator or any authorized person reviews the recorded video later and scans the recordings for red-flags and suspicious activities.

 

How Does Remote Invigilation Work?


This is how remote invigilation exam works

  • An online invigilator or AI system remotely monitors students and course participants taking exams at a place of their choosing.
  • A prerequisite for a remotely invigilated exam is that students must enable monitoring on their devices by accepting sharing their screen, video and audio.
  • With one-to-one and one-to-many viewing features, the online invigilator or the system chooses its monitoring view. Most vendors, such as Mercer | Mettl, provide a live chat option, enabling the invigilator to chat with students to assuage concerns.
  • With various anti-cheating tools at their disposal, the invigilator/ AI-system can eliminate any remote invigilation cheating instances.

 

How Is Remote Invigilation Integrated Into A System?


A remote invigilation software is integrated into any possible system in the following ways:

  • By using LTI (Learning Tool Interoperability) extensionsfor instance, Mercer | Mettl integrates its exam monitoring services online with over 250 LTI compliant systems instantaneously. With a single protocol, any platform can have sophisticated remote invigilation software within minutes.
  • Alternatively, some leading LMSs such as Canvas, Blackboard and Moodle are already compatible with Mercer | Mettl’s remote invigilation software. It is available via a Google Chrome extension, and examiners or invigilators can employ it for any exam.
  • The other way is via deep integration – for instance, Mercer | Mettl will expose its REST APIs to integrate with any system and enable the exam monitoring services online. It takes up to a week to set up. Clients who require a custom invigilation workflow, legacy platform, a non-LTI LMS, or a web platform can opt for deep integration.

 


Steps In The Exam Monitoring System

Steps in Exam Monitoring

 

1) Set up Exams

  • Configure and integrate with LMS
  • Upload multiple question types

 

2) Invite Test-Takers

  • Bulk upload candidates
  • Select time slots
  • Distribute a customized invite

 

3) Authorize and Monitor the Test within the LMS

  • ID-based authentication
  • Enable exam invigilation in the following ways:
    • Automated online exam monitoring 
    • Live online exam monitoring 
    • Professional record and review monitoring 

 

4) Real-time Results

  • Effortlessly customized report generation in real-time
  • Share results easily in the pdf or HTML format

 

5)  Group-level Analytics

  • Group-level reports
  • In-depth analytics
  • Customized as per needs

 


The Advantages Of Online Exam Invigilation

Apart from lending fairness and feasibility to the invigilation process, an online exam monitoring software simplifies the entire examination process for both educators and students in technology and convenience. Online invigilation of exams also streamlines the examination infrastructure in several ways. Here’s how:

Scalability:

By handling hundreds of data points and a vast number of students at any given time, online exam monitoring meets any large-scale examination requirements. From stringent tracking, real-time monitoring, to swift exam evaluation, online exam monitoring offers unmatched efficiencies. Its quality assurance and improved accuracy significantly reduce the human assessors’ burden without compromising the score or integrity.

Lower margins for errors:

To err is human. But for a machine? According to an individual innovation report, Artificial intelligence has a margin of error of 3 percent; humans, 5 percent,’ but a machine’s ability to solve problems and maximize efficiencies is beyond human capacity. It does not replace humans. Instead, the AI does its work more coherently by sharing accurate predictions, measurable performance and data-backed insights. It doesn’t get tired or make careless mistakes while delivering on the enormous responsibilities it entails. Hence, it is morally trained to perform transparently and validate its detections, reducing the error margins.

Elimination of On-screen Cheating:

AI embedded automated online exam monitoring provides examiners with an exceptional advantage like no other- a limited navigation control feature to prevent on-screen cheating. Students’ test screens get locked once they begin their online proctored exam. This lockdown mode prevents them from opening new browser tabs/incognito tabs/windows. It blocks functions such as copying/pasting, restricts keys such as Alt+Tab/ Cmd+Tab/ 3-finger swipe. Automated online exam monitoring also prevents access to secondary devices, such as cables, hard drives, or external devices such as the USB or internet dongle, during the exam. If students have already synced any such device before the test or attempt to sync them during the test, the AI will either not commence the test or immediately terminate it, logging out the student. The disabled external ports also prevent bypassing or illegal booting.

Flexibility with Anytime Activation:

Online exams remove geographic barriers and accommodate many applicants simultaneously. It can be easily configured with any platform or system to initiate anytime monitoring. Whether you’re using the world’s most popular learning management systems (LMSs), such as Moodle, Blackboard or Canvas or a personal legacy LMS, online exam monitoring software, the exam monitoring feature can be initiated by installing an extension on your browser. This feature allows the examiners to schedule an automated online exam monitoring mode without compromising the quality or functionality.

Customizable Anti-cheating Logic:

Online exam monitoring can be easily customized to meet various online testing needs. Depending on the exam levels’ authenticity, custom settings are enabled at the examiners’ request. At a fundamental level, for exams such as a test quiz or a subject test, one can record the exam screen in real-time via a webcam while the AI can analyze students’ actions. If you take it a notch higher, the test environment will be different, say in the case of an online certification examination. The examiner can ask the remote invigilation software provider to add more logic for stricter cheating detection.

The Validity of Claims:

With a robust system, one can imagine the accompanying validation levels. The online exam system backs every claim made during online exam monitoring. From data-backed insights for every violation flag to record details that are up for view at an invigilator’s behest, the credibility of the information generated is valid and authentic. There are no biases, assumptions and agendas, just accurate data.

Cost-Effective with Easy Accessibility:

Online exam invigilation enables students to take tests from anywhere in the world, even from their homes, as long as they offer a complacent environment. This eliminates the resource-intensive task of finding and setting up physical exam centers, exponentially reducing the expenses incurred in setting up exam-related infrastructure. The automated remote invigilation exam approach also does away with the need for human intervention, further doing away with the cost of hiring invigilators. 

On the contrary, if an online exam monitoring system does require human supervision, invigilators are readily available round-the-clock for exam monitoring.

 


How Mercer | Mettl’s Exam Monitoring Technology Is A Class Apart

Mercer | Mettl’s next-generation smart technologies lend fairness, ethics and progressiveness to a myriad of online exams by negating the possibility of malpractices by efficient monitoring. It is transforming an examination system’s operation by automating work, increasing scale, effectiveness and accuracy in measuring exams and assessments. Mercer | Mettl’s exam monitoring technology is robust enough to simultaneously support multiple test-takers across various locations globally, with bandwidth as low as 512kbps. Its ability to create the technology that mimics human abilities and improves their understanding transcends any other service provider on the market. Here’s how:

A Futuristic AI Algorithm:

Mercer | Mettl’s automated algorithm is trained with more than 2.8 million online proctored exams and assessments. It detects up to 18 dynamic digressions with over 95 percent accuracy. Its intelligent algorithm is configured to flag various suspicious cases, such as the non-visibility of face, detection of mobile phone, presence or voice of an additional person, a distracted movement, and much more, to eliminate the most glaring vulnerabilities with a dynamic set of anti-cheating features.

Unmatched Scalability:

Mercer | Mettl has conducted 150,000 assessments in a day – 70 percent of them remotely invigilated using an AI-based algorithm. The robust monitoring technology enables remote invigilation to validate results and deliver them at all exam levels. Most recently, it accomplished the feat of conducting over one lakh remote invigilation assessments in a day, along with hosting multiple universities and students simultaneously. Its impressive load testing data further showcases its volume proficiency. In a 60-minute time slot, the company successfully hosted a pool of a thousand candidates joining simultaneously, every minute of the hour.

Prompt Customer Service:

Digitally-savvy individuals are particular about customer service and expect immediate resolution of concerns. This is why Mercer | Mettl’s prompt customer service personnel enable every client to extract maximum value. Its world-class, 24/7 customer relations support piques clients’ interest as it efficiently responds to queries and details the product offerings. Its troubleshooting skills concerning a user or a technical bug is impressive, enhancing the overall customer experience. The team’s uninterrupted and prompt high-quality assistance is renowned across time zones.

Credibility:

Mercer | Mettl’s utmost priority is academic integrity during any level of assessment, which is validated by its prestigious educational partnerships. The likes of Cambridge Assessment, Christ University Bangalore, IIM Bangalore, The Washington Center (The USA), Jordan Hospital (The Middle East), EBZ Business School, Germany have leveraged online exam monitoring to maintain their academic schedules and educational continuity.

Robust Security Protocols:

Data breach, security hazards and privacy risks are global concerns. Such issues prompt a sharper focus on regulations such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ISO certification to strengthen data privacy. The online exam monitoring system follows a stringent security protocol to safeguard both test-takers’ and clients’ data. It is hosted on the Amazon Web Services (AWS), a highly secure cloud platform, for storage and computation. It uses HTTPS (256 bit SSL encryption) for secure data transmission while ensuring the safety and encryption of all available data. From enabling multi-factor authentication to ensuring that the right person is logging onto the correct account, to laying clear guidelines on who can view and access the various system resources, Mercer | Mettl is exceptionally particular about security.

 

Exam Monitoring Safety protocols

Cost-Effective Offerings:

Mercer | Mettl’s online monitoring services are efficient, time-saving and tailor-made, based on clients’ budgetary allocation. An online test system is readily accessible and affordable for all high, medium and low-stakes exams. However, customer satisfaction always takes precedence. Therefore, one of Mercer | Mettl’s best practices involves offering a free product trial to determine its effectiveness and usability before employing its online invigilation software.

 


FAQs

Below are the answers to some interesting and frequently asked queries by institutes and universities concerning online exam monitoring, remote invigilation meaning, online invigilation meaning and online exam invigilation software.

 

What does remote assessment mean?


Remote assessment is the online method chosen by examiners to assess the learning skills and potential. Applicants can take remote assessments from anywhere, globally, using a microphone and webcam enabled internet-linked computer.

 

How does a test monitor work?


A test monitor is AI-driven that continuously observes test-takers, using video and audio monitoring to ensure the test’s integrity.

 

What is a remote examination?


A remote examination is the ability to take and give exams from a remote location anywhere in the world. 

 

What is online invigilation?  


Online invigilation of exams is the process of supervising students/candidates from anywhere in the world using a webcam and microphone compatible computer and an uninterrupted internet connection.

 

How do you conduct online exams without cheating?


One can conduct online exams without cheating in the following ways: 

  • Leverage an online exam invigilation software that tracks candidates’ test activity using their computer screens. 
  • Enable AI monitoring to analyze their activities using their webcams and microphones.
  • Initiate web browsing tolerance that prevents anyone from switching screens, opening other tabs, or browsing online.

 

Can online tests detect cheating?


Yes, online tests detect cheating. Various online invigilation software providers have a host of anti-cheating methods to ensure the integrity, credibility and authenticity of online exams.

Originally published October 23 2020, Updated October 23 2020

Shirisha Jain

Written by

Shirisha has been helping countless brands gain traction with her content. Her deep understanding of the education sector and sound knowledge of technical skills have helped her structure the most creative solutions for key stakeholders. Shirisha has also ghosted pieces for several industry honcho’s successfully published both online and offline. When she's not keeping up with the world, you're sure to find her catching up on bollywood stories or gramming for fun.

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