As online learning in higher education continues to grow rapidly, demand has surged among colleges and universities for tools and strategies that can help ensure the validity and integrity of online examinations.
At Indiana University, where more than 30 percent of students take at least one online course and some 5,000 students are enrolled in fully online programs, online education and technology officials have adopted an online proctoring platform to make authentication of online assessments more efficient, convenient and secure for both students and faculty.
Proctoring an online examination can involve anything from identity management — making sure a student is who they say they are when he or she takes an exam — to actually locking down students’ machines, said Chris Foley, assistant vice president and director for online education at Indiana.
“Catching academic dishonesty is like police work,” Foley told EdScoop. “No matter what you do in law enforcement, there will always be those who try to circumvent [the law]. Maintaining academic integrity is the same thing. Math is a big example, where you can cut and paste an equation into Google and nine times out of 10 you’re going to get an answer. So [instructors] need a proctoring solution that will allow them to watch the student going through that process of locking down the browser and make sure the work represented in the assessment is truly the student’s work.”
Before finally selecting an online proctoring platform, Examity, Indiana officials piloted many providers over the course of nearly three years, soliciting feedback from faculty and students to determine which platforms would best meet their needs.
Officials had deployed a process for getting user feedback on technology acquisitions when they were evaluating learning management systems, said Matt Gunkel, director of teaching and learning technology at Indiana. They decided to leverage that process and apply it to evaluations of proctoring platforms, he said.
“It is a controlled environment for piloting, testing and feedback and using both faculty and student information as part of those pilots to help us make informed decisions in the teaching and learning space,” he said. “We ask for direct input and insight, so in the case of proctoring, I surveyed populations three or four times over two-and-a-half years to gather all of our information about the different vendors we were evaluating.
In evaluating proctoring platforms, Foley said, they “needed a solution that the faculty would have faith in and one that wouldn’t create undue technical barriers for students. The last thing we want is for students to be stressed out about how to set up their computer [for the exam].They’re already stressed out about the exam itself.”
The new proctoring platform will be fully implemented at Indiana for the spring semester, Gunkel said.