Proctoring Should Not Be One Size Fits All


by SmarterServices

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This year, OLC invited some of our Accelerate 2020 sponsors to share stories with our membership, as a way to contextualize their services and invite conversation with and within our membership. This blog post is one of those stories.

As documented by the Harvard Business Review, due to the present pandemic, more students are learning and testing online than ever before. Many students who are new to online learning are expressing concerns regarding online proctoring. Common concerns include privacy of their information and images, the security of their computing device even after the exam session, as well as fairness and equity regarding artificial intelligence making a decision about their academic behavior.

One of the reasons why the frequency of student concerns over online proctoring has increased is that in many courses the only choice that students are given is to participate in online proctoring of their exams. Now that educators are many months into the pandemic, good practices and alternative approaches to online virtual exam proctoring are emerging.

Neither students nor faculty like to be told what to do in regards to testing. Students are often resistant to online proctoring because they do not want their home environment viewed by a stranger, their home environment is not conducive to testing, they do not trust the technology, they need an accommodation that cannot be delivered online, or they prefer a non-virtual testing environment because being observed virtually is distracting and/or nerve-racking. When it comes to choosing a proctoring platform, for some students, the choice of a proctoring solution is not a choice based on mere preference, but it is influenced by their need for accommodations based on a physical or emotional disability.

For some faculty, being confined to online virtual proctoring can be frustrating because it can limit the assessment question types and methodologies (i.e. paper-based exams) they need to use to allow students to demonstrate competency.

However, to provide both students and faculty options regarding proctoring during a pandemic, using a multi-modal, proctoring management system, such as SmarterServices’ SmarterProctoring system, can greatly help to accommodate all learners. Instead of making proctoring one size fits all, using SmarterProctoring a student can test in any of the following modalities.

College Testing Centers – Some testing centers are now beginning to open back up. To control for the spread of COVID-19 they have limited testing capacity. Through our integration with the testing center’s scheduling system, students can easily schedule to take their exam at a time in which the testing center is open and has seating capacity.

Instructor-As-Proctor – After conversations with some university instructors, some professors are now offering limited office hours while exercising social distancing. Using SmarterProctoring students can schedule a date and time at which the instructor is available to proctor the exam.

Another Testing Center – Due to COVID-19 many students are living at home which may be hours away from the college campus. According to the Pew Research Center, “Around one-in-ten adults ages 18 to 29 (9%) say they moved due to the coronavirus outbreak, higher than the share in any other age group.” Among that group, 23% said it was because their college campus had closed. SmarterProctoring provides a network of thousands of collegiate and professional testing centers at which proctoring sessions can be scheduled.

Proctoring Professionals – One proctoring option that some schools may consider include allowing a pre-approved professional such as an HR Director at a corporation or a Pastor at a church to proctor exams. These persons can be approved, scheduled, and communicated with all within SmarterProctoring.

Variety of Virtual Proctoring – Students who may have concerns with false positives that can occur with artificial intelligence (AI) monitoring the proctored exam, or who do not want to be observed in real-time by someone they do not know, may use SmarterProctoring to select from three types of virtual proctoring – automated virtual proctoring, record and review virtual proctoring, and/or live, virtual proctoring.

This matter of forcing students to participate in a particular form of proctoring even has legal ramifications for the institution. Petitions have been signed by many students at several institutions to express their concerns. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has also filed a formal complaint with the Attorney General in DC to investigate the practices of proctoring companies.

As leaders of educational institutions, we are required by the ADA to provide appropriate accommodations to all learners. As such, we do not need to force all learners to test by one proctoring modality. However, SmarterProctoring allows institutions to provide multiple testing options such as a network of hundreds of collegiate and professional testing centers, approved proctoring professionals, and even the instructor as proctor all from within a secure, user-friendly interface within the course. It also allows students to take their exams via online or automated proctoring.

To alleviate these legal concerns as well as to provide exemplary student services, we encourage schools to provide a full spectrum of proctoring options to their students and faculty through SmarterProctoring. After all, proctoring should not be a one size fits all. Rather, it should accommodate all learners with testing options that fit their exact needs.


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