“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This popular saying also happens to be the Indian education system’s favorite quote. For a country that relies on summative assessments in the form of examinations, the education system has rarely ever thought of changing it in any form. But, with a pandemic striking the world, we could notice the flaws and restrictions of a system that has hardly seen any change from time immemorial. Amidst lockdowns, it was not feasible to expect students to visit an examination hall to conduct exams. With different educational institutions harnessing the power of online learning, distress lies only around student evaluation. This problematic situation gave rise to numerous solutions, and one of the more sustainable and feasible solutions that has the capability to stand the test of time are the online proctoring services.
But what is online proctoring?
To ensure the wheels of learning never stop spinning, proctored exams are becoming a norm for certifications. By offering the freedom to sit anywhere and at any given time, candidates can give their exams and bolster their learning. This experience is aided by an online proctor who is responsible to invigilate and keep a check on the candidates using the candidate’s computer screen and a webcam. In simple words, online proctoring can be defined as a form of digital assessment that helps candidates sit for their exams from any location. During this time, the monitoring software ensures authenticity and credibility by keeping an eye on the test-takers through video.
But what are the issues with offline proctored tests or online tests without proctoring?
In the simplest sense, online proctored exams eliminate the chance for individuals to try and cheat. Especially when a test is being videotaped, students are aware that they are being monitored and would not attempt in any malpractices. Moreover, institution officials would agree that proctoring an online exam is much easier than proctoring a face-to-face paper-based exam. This is because in most cases, there is just one instructor in the room with numerous test takers. To sum it up, online proctoring software provides never-before convenience to students and helps institutions conduct tests in the best possible way.
So how do proctored exams work?
Similar to conventional exams, proctored exams are conducted during a set period of time through a proctoring software that monitors one’s computer’s desktop along with the audio and video of their webcam. This data is then transferred to a proctoring service where it is available for review.
To start its functioning, one must install the online proctoring software before taking the exam. The proctoring software then monitors the computer including the likes of any software that is running. This information is then streamed through the cloud.
Thanks to advancement in technology, there are three main types of proctoring:
Here, a representative of the proctoring software monitors the audio and video feed in real-time. Depending on the number of representatives involved, online proctoring can monitor a set number of people. While online proctoring removes the constraints of location, it is still expensive and difficult to carry it out on a large scale.
Recorded proctoring is a more common approach, where the audio and video feed is fed into the cloud, which can then be viewed by anyone later. While this eliminates location and schedule-based constraints, it still involves a human intervention to go through the footage to identify any red flags.
Automated proctoring makes use of technology to its fullest to drive tangible results. Even here, the audio and video feed are recorded. But the feed is monitored using audio and video analytics, to find any suspicious activity. Since automated proctoring eliminates the need for any humans to monitor, it holds the advantage of being scalable to any level.
So, who can use the online proctoring software?
Online proctoring software solutions are gaining popularity, thanks to its efficiency and scalability. Different recruitment agencies, certifications, college admission tests are already making use of proctoring software to analyze individuals. With online education and e-learning gaining traction right from primary education to postgraduate levels, we can see the use of online proctoring software across different schools, universities, and educational institutions as well.
Benefits of Online Proctoring Software
Proctoring services bring it with a plethora of advantages, both for the candidates and the institution. Let’s look at a few:
- Candidates enjoy greater flexibility when it comes to sitting at a place of their choice, choosing the timing of the examination.
- Organizations and institutions can eliminate the costs incurred due to exams and test centers. One can also conduct more exams, owing to the lesser personnel required for conducting an examination.
- Institutions can also scale their offerings across the globe with the right online proctoring software. It helps them run exams without the constraints of geographical boundaries.
Online Proctoring Software Disadvantages
While proctoring services have numerous advantages, there are a few disadvantages as well:
- Commercial proctoring services are expensive. While they add convenience in bouts, but considering the costs, educational institutions will be reluctant in spending on technologies.
- Owing to its intervention in just the last few years, not everyone is comfortable with online proctoring software. On the other front, even candidates might not be completely comfortable with the software, making it extremely important for everyone to aware of the software completely.
- While automated proctoring is the future, live proctoring could bring with it another set of complications, where finding any discrepancies could be uneven.
Online Proctoring Software Features To Look Out For
In order to protect the integrity of the examination, it is of paramount importance to have end to end security that prevents users from accessing the internet, using their phones among other things. This also comes into effect during the authentication process, where the software must undertake necessary steps to ensure the right person is signing in to take the examination.
Purchasing the software and having everyone involved installing it is just half the work. To make sure no individual faces any hiccups or hindrances during the test, it is important to have dedicated technical support. With more institutions adopting and using cloud-based solutions, the availability of support has become a must.
An online proctoring software generates two reports, one for the candidate and the other for the proctor. These reports give an in-depth analysis of any findings for the proctor. More than often, these reports are both online and offline.
Must Check Features for Online Proctoring Software
Though the aforementioned features are a must in every online proctoring software, every institution must pay heed to certain aspects before investing in one.
A comprehensive software
Owing to its high costs, institutions must look at comprehensive software that offers everything, instead of having to invest in numerous tools to get the job done.
A scalable software
While choosing software, one must always think of their present needs and how they will grow in the future. Considering a software that has the potential to scale itself will be beneficial.
Ease in integration
Since this is a new technology, where numerous individuals must get accustomed, it is important to have a software that can be integrated seamlessly.
Along with these, institutions must consider customizability, cost, user experience while choosing the right software. With its relevance on the rise, the time is right for institutions of all sizes to choose and implement the right online proctoring software in their systems.