Remote Proctoring Explained - How Exam Proctoring Software Works

Like any tool that gets refined over time, exam proctoring has evolved. The days of learners commuting to a testing center to sit at a desk and write the exam in the same room as a proctor were already adjusting in the face of several factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Bandwidth constraints
  • The need to find space and proctors if a test center is not ready
  • Time and cost of travel for both candidates and proctors
  • Test taker comfort levels with remote study, remote work trends, and technology
  • Emerging technology options that supplement the blended or fully online learning experience

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the move away from in-person to online proctoring in a way that may never fully readjust to how it was. And for good reason: Online exam proctoring is more efficient, flexible, and can be just as secure as in-person proctoring. 

This post will give you a sense of the landscape of online proctoring today, and explain how exam proctoring software works in the real world. 

What Is Online Proctoring Software?

It’s a misconception that remote proctoring is something that replaces human proctors. Online or remote proctoring software (also known in some parts of the world as invigilation software) is technology that makes the process of having a human proctor more efficient.

This technology often features: 

  • Identify management - to verify that the person who shows up to the exam is the correct person
  • Continuous identify verification - to ensure that the person who is taking the exam continues to be the correct person 
  • Deterrence capabilities - to deter or significantly limit access to prohibited materials during the exam or actions that would allow the test material to be copied and distributed

Who Needs Remote Proctoring Software? 

It’s not just colleges and universities. While higher education naturally accounts for a large base of proctoring software users, it’s far from the only use case. 

Consider the scenarios where exam proctoring is the safeguard for public health or safety. Doctors and nurses going through professional recertification; pilots taking a training course on a new process or equipment; structural engineers ensuring their knowledge is sound by completing a licensure exam—in all these situations, the stakes are high. There are trusting members of the public who expect that the people flying their planes, performing their surgeries, and building their bridges are qualified to be doing so. 

Any test that’s worth protecting should be a candidate for online proctoring. A broad range of organizations and situations could take advantage of online exam proctoring: 

Top Benefits of Exam Proctoring Online

  • Gives peace of mind. Test takers take comfort in having a guide through the exam process. Test-taking anxiety can be alleviated with the right partnerships and technology in place. This includes training materials and an understanding that any program they are working with has been thoroughly evaluated and is transparent about what is occuring..
  • Promotes integrity and brand credibility. By keeping test material locked down, the quality of your exam content remains intact and helps you maintain your reputation of rigor and academic integrity. 
  • Deters academic dishonesty. When students are aware that they are entering into a proctored exam experience that levels the playing field, the opportunities to cheat are diminished.
  • Prevents test items from being copied and leaked online. The hard work of psychometricians, faculty, staff, professors, and exam administrators remains intact when exam content is secure.
  • Builds program credibility. When the word on the street is that your exams are truly tests of knowledge, it adds value to your institution and bolsters your reputation. Some people also take pride in knowing they passed an exam as a result of their own study and hard work.
  • Protects any exam, big or small. Whether the stakes are low or high, knowing that test takers are honestly completing the exam is a win for all. 

Exam proctoring software allows the test takers and test administrators to feel good about the process of taking an exam. We can characterize this broadly into four central feelings that get touched during the exam proctoring process.

  • Awareness - The exam may not be open-book, but the environment is. Test takers know exactly what is expected of them, and they’re put at ease by knowing all of this up front. 
  • Rigor - A robust proctoring solution can deter academic dishonesty online by recording, monitoring, observing, and providing a report back to the test sponsor so they can review any suspect behavior.
  • Security - Preparing exam content is difficult and time consuming. Good proctoring software ensures that the contents of an exam cannot easily be copied and leaked online.
  • Confidence - For anyone that will eventually rely on the test taker’s knowledge, it is invaluable to know that there was an effective measurement of their knowledge and that their success was the result of their own study and their own work. 

How Does Online Proctoring Work?

A remote proctoring solution should work in conjunction with any of the major learning management systems, including Blackboard, Canvas, and Moodle, major testing platforms, or as a standalone application. There are four core parts to the test-taking process with online proctoring technology in use.

After the test taker verifies their identity, a testing URL is generated, and the student goes there to begin the exam on a web browser.

As the exam is underway, the online proctoring application is running and collecting three streams of data: webcam footage, screen recording, and audio.

These data streams are uploaded to the cloud for review and analysis. A report is generated with suggestions of where an exam administrator should take a closer look. 

The reviewer can flag questionable or abnormal activity and identify the severity of the infraction. These activities may include leaving the view of the web camera, using materials off camera, speaking to someone else in the room, navigating to unauthorized resources on the computer, etc.

Learn More About Online Proctoring

By leveraging online proctoring technology, your organization will be able to deter cheating, safeguard the contents of your exams, and provide learners with a quality test-taking experience that is more convenient and lower stress than in-person alternatives. 

There is much more to learn about online proctoring, so if this topic is something you need to know more about, you should take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Online Proctoring, which dives deeper into remote proctoring software solutions for a variety of use cases. 

The Ultimate Guide to Online Proctoring - download now