This post considers the past and is intended to look ahead 2-3 years. While we don’t have a crystal ball we thought it would be helpful to share what we believe are persistent topics or emerging areas of focus for the assessment industry as it relates to online proctoring and proctoring software providers.
Adoption & Change
Research is starting to be published on learnings from the 2020 pandemic and how it affected the adoption, behavior, and outcomes of programs that shifted to blended formats or offered fully online delivery for the first time. The Education Technology community is composed of academics, analytical thinkers, critical thinkers, entrepreneurs, administrators, and that creates a unique melting pot of what’s been done in the past, leading edge changes, and some bleeding edge (more risk than leading edge). Adoption of online proctoring and change are two things that will remain constant. While buying cycles have gone back to pre-pandemic norms, the snowball was already rolling down the hill and it’s not stopping. We are even at a point where there is investigation on the impact collaboration tools such a Zoom are having on the average virtual or remote employee. Recently while on a Zoom meeting someone shared the following research on Zoom fatigue titled Nonverbal Overload: A Theoretical Argument for the Causes of Zoom Fatigue, how meta is that!?
Device Support for Online Exam Proctoring
Using my son as an example, one of the first things he does when picking up a new device is try to connect it to the internet via Wi-Fi. The number of Wi-Fi connected devices the average user has access to is increasing and I have even matched my home office equipment setup to that of my traditional office. Yes, I like to go to my office most weekdays, close my door, and focus without the distractions that can arise from being at home. As younger generations age through primary, secondary, and post secondary education they will be fully digital natives based on their school experience being mixed with a home consisting of Smart TV’s connected to streaming services, smart doorbells, and home Alexa speakers that can recall information for them at a moments notice. Thought will need to be placed in the types and ranges of devices we deliver education through and the same for how we measure their knowledge via assessments. Exam proctoring providers having to support a variety of devices and operating systems at scale will remain a challenge.
User Experience, Design, and Convenience - for Online Proctoring
One of my favorite books is Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. The book is all about designing web experiences that are intuitive and helpful to the user, hence, don’t make them think! The convenience and user experience of anything the next generation of web users will interact with will be important. They’ll be brought up using FAANG companies ((Meta (META), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), and Alphabet (GOOG)) platforms and services and will expect things to just work. There’s also value in providing thoughtful user experience and design to an aging generation of users and making their experience just as smooth. Not only do they deserve it but it will cut down on the percentage of support inquiries related to proctored exams. I hope to see the EdTech community embrace this.
Going beyond user experience to fundamental support to audiences that have accessibility or accommodation requirements will become more discussed and a serious factor when basing decisions on what proctoring software providers to work with.
The Debate around Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Humans vs. Machines
I don’t think AI is bad, I think humans can be lazy and their interpretation or employment of AI can be poor. There is a simmering conversation in regard to proctoring that wants Humans versus Machines to square off in a battle to determine a definitive winner. I think there is a harmony that can be established. If you went onto a college campus after the Vietnam War and told students their access to facilities and resources would be tracked, under password, or lock and key this would have been met with heavy resistance. Go to any campus now and everything from access to buildings or systems is tracked, access controlled, and connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). As consumers and learners we often benefit and appreciate the conveniences of tailored experiences, and organizations seeking efficiencies or greater speed often will involve the use of advanced computing, processing, and storage of information by cloud service providers. The conversation around when a machine is involved in processing information that supports a decision that affects a human is fair, and likely to remain a topic of interest but I don’t think we should paint using common technology and best practices in a negative light because it favors one delivery model over another. In fact, diversity in options from legitimate proctoring providers creates a healthy and growing marketplace, and if a provider wasn’t using a well known cloud service provider or advanced computing capabilities I would be skeptical about their ability to provide consistent uptime, service, and quality back to their clients. This should be clearly explained and demonstrated to clients.
I can’t predict the future but the areas above are likely to remain prevalent in my humble opinion. At ProctorFree we love talking about online proctoring, exam delivery, and Education Technology in general. If you have any thoughts on the topics above or would like to see examples of the types of clients we work with please drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.