Watch Your Students Take Their Exam At Home

One of the obstacles to distance learning adoption is the finalexam. How can you be sure that the student who hands in the exam is theone who wrote it or that they didn’t access all kinds of informationwhile writing it.

Even in the classroom, it’s hard to proctor students who can useubiquitous wireless technologies to IM or text message questions fromcompatriots stationed near a computer. Just today, CNN reports of extensive measures being taken in China…

"…China will scramble mobile phone signals in some exam halls and have police stand guard in a bid to stop cheating,.."

Now, the law school world has had an embarrassment of riches with three prominent companies in the secure exam software space: Examsoft, Extegrity and Software Secure.

All of the software that these companies make have been around forquite a while and work as advertised for locking down the student’scomputer when they are taking an exam, but none of them can prevent the"analog hole" of exam-taking where the exam taker cheats bycommunicating with someone during the test.

This is about to change.

Software Secure has been beta-testinga new hardware device at Troy University in Alabama that is a 360degree webcam that the student plugs into their computer while takingthe exam at home. The video is streamed to a serverwhere the faculty member or a remote proctor can view real time orafter the fact to make sure that no one else is in the room or that thestudent didn’t pick up a phone can call a friend for help or useanother computer to research the answers.

"…Securexam Remote Proctorâ„¢ will authenticate the identity of the studenttaking a test, ensure that student is unable to use the computer tocheat during an exam and provide real-time audio and video of the roomwhere the test is taken…."

I emphasised on "authenticate the identity" because the hardwareincludes a fingerprint scanner for the student and the instructor candetermine how often the student must re-scan his finger during the exam.

So the combination of locking down the computer with SoftwareSecure’s SecureExam, plus the fingerprint scanner to make sure that thestudent who is in the class is the one taking the exam and the 360degree webcam is designed to make it much harder for distance learningstudents to cheat.

InsideHigherEd has more details…

"…The product, called Securexam Remote Proctor, would likely coststudents about $200 ….

A fingerprint sensor is built into the base of the remote proctor,and professors can choose when and how often they want students toidentify themselves during the test

… asmall camera with 360-degree-view capabilities is attached to the baseof the unit. Real-time audio and video is taken from the test taker’sroom, and any unusual activity — another person walking into the room,an unfamiliar voice speaking — leads to a red-flag message thatsomething might be awry.

Professors need not watch students taking the test live; they can view the streaming audio or video at any time…."


Here’s a blowup of the picture from the article…

The first time I saw the Ipix camera, several years ago, I had the notion that it could be used to do remote proctoring, but I suppose that there could be elaborate ways to get around this system like someone hiding under the desk or something, but it starts to get rather silly. Many law faculty give take-home exams and rely on the honor code.

I don’t know if faculty will come to trust such a system, but it is interesting to see developments in this area.

Maybe Software Secure will bring one of these to the CALI Conference?

Comments are closed.