Invigilating a test remotely using technology may be a good idea amid the Covid-19 health emergency. Remote proctoring is the need of the hour, but many consider it a necessary evil. There are misconceptions about the efficacy of remote proctoring. Some think it can prevent cheating during online tests. Others say it is a myth that remote proctoring actually works, which actually may not be true.
Online learning order of the day
All the learning and examination processes were put in abeyance in the wake of the deadly pandemic and the lockdown that followed it. Slowly institutions have resumed the learning and examination process post ‘un-locking’. With students and parents still afraid of venturing out, online learning and examination have come to their rescue. It has turned out to be an effective way of continuing with the education process, from the safety of an infection-free living or learning space.
Tendency to cheat
Studies have shown that the tendency among students, taking online courses, to cheat is the highest. Over 70 per cent of students have admitted to cheating, according to these studies. There has been a dramatic rise in cheating by online learners during Covid-19. In such a scenario, the role of remote proctoring assumes further significance.
Doubts about remote proctoring
Despite its proven efficacy, skeptics have their own doubts about the integrity of the remote proctoring. Can remote proctoring ensure there is no cheating by candidates? Can it ensure that candidates’ privacy is not compromised? What if an honest hardworking student wrongfully gets flagged for misconduct during testing? What if companies providing proctoring technology steal and sell students’ tests data?
There are some obvious myths surrounding the usefulness of remote proctoring but not all of these are founded on the solid grounds of reality. For example it is said that no amount of remote proctoring can prevent cheating. This is, however, not true. Cheating is a real problem in an examination system. Remote proctoring is a comparatively easy and timely answer to the problem.
There are online proctoring and security platforms with a review system capable of monitoring behaviours of examinees using state of the art systems. They can not only detect and record keystrokes, any happenings on the students’ laptop or computer but also background noises using sophisticated systems. However, whenever a student is flagged by technology someone from the institution reviews the situation using video recordings to distinguish between normal testing behaviour and cheating. An AI [Artificial Intelligence] based finding may not be a fool-proof evidence of misconduct.
Online proctoring less invasive
It’s often said that online proctoring intrudes upon an examinee’s privacy. This is put forth as a counter to online proctoring. However, it is now an established fact that online proctoring is less of an invasion into privacy than someone writing a test under the watchful eyes of an invigilator at the testing center. An online candidate can choose any place of his liking to write the exam from home. At the examination hall such a situation is unthinkable as everyone is under watch. Remote proctoring overseeing a test is more private than appearing for an exam in person.
Fear of surveillance baseless
Many students writing exams online fear swooping and surveillance by online proctoring technology. Actually it is not true. Students’ permission is required at every step of installing and using proctoring software. Moreover, whatever is being done during remote proctoring is visible to students. It is also recorded for review. After the test the software can be easily deleted and uninstalled. So, all those fears about being watched or swooped are misplaced.
Cheating during test is not a myth
Given the tendency among online learners to cheat during tests there is no reason to believe that cheating is a myth. This is also a myth that remote proctoring begins with the assumption that students are wont to misconduct during test. But it is observed that both educational institutions and online proctors are keener on preventing cheating than detecting it.
Detecting a cheater no solution
So, when flagged by remote proctoring they would rather advise a student to keep away his or her mobile and that hidden note out of the camera’s vision. For detecting a cheater and initiating action involve expensive and lengthy paper works and legal wrangling that none wants to get involved in.
Myth and reality
Between the myth and reality, online proctoring serves an important purpose. It seeks to ensure a level playing field for all the exam givers. It lets all to be judged according to their individual calibers and not by their ability to cheat. And, a combination of technology and human intervention make it possible.