Online Proctoring for Deans and Department Chairs

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in October 2016 and updated in May 2021.

The benefits of online education are multifold. For both institutions and students, there is a running list of what advantages online learning options provide:

  • Increased access to education for diverse populations
  • Flexible scheduling and/or convenience options for adult learners or working students
  • Offers different paths for students that may benefit from different teaching and learning styles
  • Resident and graduate assistant training
  • Opportunity to grow your geographic footprint and make programs more economically viable

As is with any added service offering, launching a virtual course or other learning experience comes with the potential for technical hiccups and nagging inconveniences. 

As a university dean, department chair, or other academic leader, the task to launch a comprehensive online learning experience requires purposeful thought and the right online proctoring technology that is accessible and streamlined for both faculty and students. If seamless access isn’t achieved, students and faculty, as well as entire academic programs, suffer as result. 

To combat these potential pitfalls, here is an overview of items a Dean or Department Chair should consider when thinking about purchasing an online proctoring solution.


Pre-Purchase Considerations for Academic Leaders

As the head of an academic institution, there is little time to be held back by singular technical issues that affect your educational administration or its outcomes and goals. Hence, best-in-class, industry-leading customer service and support should be at the forefront of your decision-making process when selecting an online proctoring solution.

When you look for a solution, ask potential providers if team members are specifically trained to engage higher-level administrators, faculty members, graduate teaching assistants, and students on how to use their software, at any time, day or night, no matter the issue. 

Ensure that your online proctoring solution hosts seamless connectivity to a variety of learning management systems, including Blackboard, Canvas, Brightspace, and Moodle, and confirm that their support team is trained to troubleshoot across all LMS integrations. If your institution doesn’t use an LMS, you should look for a standalone solution that can operate seamlessly in an unintegrated environment without sacrificing any features or functionality. 

Logging in to your online proctoring platform should be easy, and the proctoring data turned over to educators must be simple to understand. Remember, digital proctoring should never be difficult; it’s a tool that is designed to streamline operations for your school.

Student and user privacy needs to be a pillar of commitment to both you and your solution. Advancing the online learning community is crucial, and your proctoring software should be open to changing alongside the constantly evolving needs of students and users. 



A Seamless Test-Taking Experience That Rewards Preparedness

Process is paramount to the success of any learning initiative, and it’s no different for an online proctoring software.

Test-taking is nerve-wracking for test-takers and teachers alike, and the fallout of a malfunctioning proctoring software has the potential to throw out the integrity of an entire exam or course. This means educators may need to consider retesting or move on, much to the dismay of students who take their academic efforts and preparedness seriously.

When you manage an institution that celebrates learning, there should be a clear and forward commitment to those who cherish the integrity of their academic pathway.


Choose a Platform With an Emphasis on Transparency and User Experience

Transparency and a simple user experience are critical to user adoption. Next, the integrity of your academic programs is of the utmost importance, and it’s more than a value proposition: a commitment to “not cheating.” Integrity is a dedication to one’s self, one’s originality, of ideas and creativity; it's the bedrock for educational development and an unspoken universal agreement of labor, accomplishment, and credit. Albeit, not everyone sees academic integrity in this way. 

The unfortunate reality is that many students feel as though their grades are finite and that they are final determiners of their future. This is wrong. However, it doesn’t mean students won’t feel the need to cheat to conform to rigorous, collegiate-level expectations. 

To assist with this, we should encourage putting ourselves in the shoes of a student. Why am I here? What do I want to get out of this experience? How is this helping me advance personally and professionally? 

While academic integrity and related incidents are an unfortunate existence, there is an opportunity to change the way we think about it on a relational level. Some individuals may take pride in their work — that means rolling up the proverbial sleeves, learning, and demonstrating newly obtained knowledge in some way. When measured by a traditional assessment, proctoring doesn’t have to be viewed through a lens of “we’re watching you,” but rather through a lens of “we’re watching out for you.” 

So, as a means to combat, and to support academic faculty and the students who prepare diligently for their assessments, an online proctoring software notifies educators of anomalies that suggest a test taker might be starting to veer off the recommended path. It then becomes the responsibility of an institution-affiliated worker to determine whether or not the anomaly is cheating, and whether the offense is punishable by rules stated in the university’s code. A dishonesty claim should never be made on behalf of the proctoring solution. 

In this sense, an online proctoring solution operates as an option for universities to leverage data from and for the university to use that data to make informed decisions about academic integrity on a case-by-case basis as it pertains to individual students.


Cost x Features

A cost by feature subscription plan can be irksome, and with the duty of budget oversight, a role that deans and department chairs are often responsible for, selecting an online proctoring solution that fits your budget with straightforward pricing plans and all available features is difficult. 

Look for an online proctoring solution that has these features at a minimum, and avoid convoluted pricing plans: 

  • Login verification with photo ID
  • Universal webcam and microphone integration 
  • Screen capturing for spot visibility
  • Universal browser support
  • LMS compatibility
  • AI screening and video playback
  • Complete customization

Pricing should exist in a simple formulaic structure (think “x” dollars per student per exam) and have scalable solutions and a feature rotunda that individuals educators can tailor to their needs, for a particular test.

You should avoid programs that have locked-in pricing plans and feature ceilings. These companies tend to be more for-profit and less for the students and minimally available when it comes to support.

As an administrator, you should never have to worry about the mishandling of the information or data of your students. ProctorFree maintains the integrity of your institution and its online endeavors. We can help expand your capabilities, retain students interested in online learning, grow your online programs, and lead you into new territories. 

We want to hear your pain points, understand what you’re looking to achieve with your online proctoring system, and work with you to create a solution.

To see if ProctorFree is right for your institution, schedule an appointment to see us in action! 

schedule a free demo with ProctorFree