During Covid 19, many companies and educational institutions have started looking for alternatives to taking exams. How do you ensure that, given the strict measures and in the event of a second outbreak, testing can continue without compromising quality? Online proctoring offers a solution. Wietze Relou (Sales Manager at Optimum Assessment) further explains this ‘remote monitoring’ method.
With online proctoring, exams can be taken at any time, at any location and it is possible to supervise remotely. “This is absolutely the ideal way to test, both to supplement the slow reemergence of regular testing and in the event of a second outbreak,” says Relou. “Because of the coronavirus measures, until recently no exams were taken. In the meantime, the commercial test locations are starting up again slowly, under strict conditions. “Far too little to meet demand,” says Relou.
“We get lots of questions about security,” says Relou. “People wonder if online proctoring isn’t much more susceptible to fraud than an exam with live surveillance. My answer is that we can never guarantee one hundred percent security, just as we cannot guarantee one hundred percent security for an exam at a test location. Of course, we do everything we can to make it as safe as possible, but you can never completely rule out fraud. It’s in people’s nature to be creative with rules.”
Relou has noticed that there is often a considerable threshold for schools to allow students to take an exam on their own laptop. At their own test location, the computers on which the exams are made contain nothing but the test application. In this way you create a controlled environment.
“Educational institutions may feel that they relinquish that control when students take exams at home. But you can also create such a controlled environment at home with online proctoring,” explains Relou. “For example, we provide a lockdown browser, which only allows allowed applications to be opened during the exam. That’s comparable to the situation at the test location.”
Privacy is another subject that is often raised. “We are doing our very best to regulate that down to the last detail,” Relou underlines. “For example, have deliberately opted for a European supplier. This ensures that the data remains in Europe and that we comply with the requirements of the AVG and the regulations for ISO 27001”.
“That is also why we do not yet make use of ‘Automatic Flagging’, a technique that uses artificial intelligence to detect exam fraud. For example, a candidate’s eye movements are analysed to see if they wander off the screen a lot to a certain spot where a cheat letter or book may be placed.”
“To apply this technique, we need to work with an American developer. Which means we can no longer keep the data within Europe. In that case, privacy for us takes precedence over the latest techniques. Incidentally, we notice that there are quite a few reservations about this kind of technology in the market, so maybe the time just isn’t ripe for it yet.”
Relou is not surprised that there are doubts about online proctoring. “It asks quite a bit of candidates. They have to make their webcam available so that a supervisor can watch. They must show an ID card to check their identity. The website visit is also monitored during the exam to ensure that candidates are not searching for answers. You effectively give candidates a choice: make data available or do not take the exam.”
“If you do that as a testing organisation, you need to make sure the data is secure. We are firmly committed to that.”
Online proctoring is being applied more and more, also in education. For example, for entrance exams for foreign students. This allows hundreds of students to take exams remotely.
It need not take long to set up an online exam environment. “Optimum Assessment supports the implementation of online proctoring. For example, we have to deal with institutions that are looking for a quick solution for students who are about to graduate. It helps them enormously if that student can take the final exams via online proctoring.”
“In these times when we have to work remotely, it’s good to see how people and organisations find new solutions. Everyone is starting to realise that distance does not have to be a limitation. Not even when taking exams.”