Quality online learning can be ensured only with a fool proof, precise, and trustworthy examination. Automated remote proctoring therefore is a must for a viable online learning scenario. Are the latest technologies capable to provide such remote yet viable proctoring experience?
Online Programs: Questionable Authenticity?
Education is undergoing a radical transformation in the digital age. Online learning, without doubt is the future of next generation teaching-learning activities. In its formative stages (at least for India), online learning industry is trying hard to overcome its deficiencies and tap on its enormous potential of democratizing education. The most daunting challenge, however, for online education is to establish itself as a valid and credible system of imparting quality learning.
Accreditation and certification of online learning programs are still questioned in many parts of the world while many countries don’t even have any accreditation regulations for online courses in place. The limitations of un-proctored online tests and offline proctored tests also called onsite proctored tests, where the learner or the candidate has to physically travel for attempting the exam, gives enough scope either for unfair malpractices or location and resource constraints for all the stakeholders.
Automated Remote Proctoring: Effective Solution for OLE
The AI-enabled automated (online) remote proctoring solutions for conducting online exams are emerging as a handy and effective solution to creating a secure examination environment. Such proctoring solutions ensure fair testing of the candidate in order to assess the eligibility for a certificate or selection in a competitive exam. The minimum requirements are a web camera, mic, high-speed internet facility, and access to the students’ screen and digital device.
In automated remote proctoring, the candidates are automatically monitored with or without the need of a human proctor or invigilator using advanced technology like AI. The AI-enabled proctoring software successfully establishes authenticity via facial recognition technique and accurately detects use of any kind of unfair means, e.g. use of smartphones and other devices.
Highly sophisticated remote proctoring software can also detect presence of other people around and distractions, mood, facial expressions, gestures etc., which can be intelligently analysed by the system to raise a red flag in case of suspicion. These fully automated proctoring solutions provide complete, cheat-free, customizable, and secure browser and keep the recording of the entire exam.
Online Proctoring Industry: Neck and Neck with Online Learning
The online remote proctoring industry has been projected to be a USD 10 billion market by 2026. This industry is more than a decade old now in US and UK with companies like ProctorU, Examity, Talview and PearsonVUE already being big names while In India, where the online learning industry is still at infancy, measures both at governmental and private industry level are being taken to consolidate and boost the growth of online learning industry. Some of the Indian companies offering online remote proctoring solutions are Eklavvya, Mettl, Wheebox etc. These solutions find application in mostly corporate training sector, especially those dealing with IT services for product certification and project management training. Another important area is of the national and state level competitive examinations in which every year lakhs of candidates compete for selection either to a higher education institute or for employment.
The online remote proctoring industry has been projected to be a USD 10 billion market by 2026.
The formation of a national body, National Testing Agency (NTA), for conducting all these exam via online mode is a way forward towards digitization of examinations in India. Currently, NTA is using offline proctoring, i.e. onsite proctoring at designated centers with provision for computers and internet facility. However, the system will soon evolve and switch to automated online remote proctoring considering its scalability and convenience. The other large sectors of education, being the schools and colleges, or universities, might also take advantage of online exams and remote proctoring in future but these are still a little far fetched for India and may take time to fully leverage online mode of learning.
Top 5 Reasons in Favor of Automated Remote Proctoring:
1. Increase in the Fairness and Transparency of Examination System
The conventional examination system has been plagued by the use of unfair means employed by candidates and no accountability or transparency provided by the exam conducting bodies. This often compromises the best interests of the worthy candidates. Automated remote proctoring can completely dismiss these issues due to its high accuracy in monitoring or invigilating the candidates and providing transparency in terms of providing quicker results and all statistics related to exam. As everything gets recorded in the digital system, everything is evidence based and can be accounted easily.
2. Reduction in the Infrastructure and Logistics Load
All the educational activities are incomplete, more so invalid, without an exam to validate the learning achievement of the students. But examination in itself is a huge and enormous task, say for example, central board for secondary education (CBSE) in India every year undertakes this humungous task of conducting examination, subsequent evaluation, and finally declaration of results for about 30 lakh candidates.
This requires a huge expenditure in arranging infrastructure and logistics. Online exam on other hand can substantially reduce this load. Initial cost of switching over to online exam might be higher, but in the long term, it can be highly cost effective and efficient. However, such a decision also depends on many other factors as accessibility to high-speed internet and availability of digital devices with every student.
3. Enhanced Validity of an Online Program
The online programs offering educational or professional certification at first looks good on the CV but is followed by questions, quite discomforting ones, on their recognition and accreditation. Every candidate has to qualify a recognised and accredited exam before becoming eligible for the certificate. It is the fair and secure manner in which an exam is conducted online which gives it credibility and validity.
The new UGC regulations in India regarding accreditation of online courses also takes into account the examination system of an online course. It suggests offline proctoring at designated centers having adequate infrastructural and IT support. It also mandates a qualified faculty for being appointed as a proctor. Once these guidelines are implemented, the system might evolve towards automated remote proctoring in times to come.
4. Openness and Flexibility in Time and Place
The biggest advantage of online learning is the flexibility of time, place, and pace which it offers to the learners in today’s’ fast moving world. An online course with offline proctoring of exams takes away its flexibility and self-sufficiency to an extent. A complete online course is supposedly the one which works online right from the enrollment and admission to examination and procuring a downloadable digitally verified certificate without any need of physically visiting any place.
An online course with offline proctoring of exams takes away its flexibility and self-sufficiency to an extent.
This ideally sounding scenario can be true with the provision of automated remote proctoring, wherein one may schedule the examination as one’s choice and convenience without requiring to go anywhere else. Even sitting at home or at the workplace, the learner can enter into a secure examination environment.
5. Low Error Probability due to Technology Efficiency
The latest technology like AI and ML, offers zero chances of error, and 100 percent accuracy in monitoring and detecting distractions or other spurious activities. The new technologies are improvisations over the previous ones and each new version is an advancement in itself. Therefore, machines are more reliable than humans when it comes to storing and retrieving data.
India is witnessing an increasing surge in online courses being offered through learning management systems (LMS), massive online open courses (MOOCs) and online learning platforms. These have shown high acceptability among the learners as it has the potential to personalize learning experiences on one hand and democratize education on the other.
However, questions revolving around its recognition and accreditation has been a major bottleneck in its successful adoption. With UGC regulations for online courses in place and availability of various authoring tools, software solutions, online proctoring solutions, online learning tools and latest online technologies, the future of online learning seems bright in India.