Remote Proctoring: Benefits, Risks, and Lessons Learned

Remote Proctoring

It’s an online world and we are all captives. Almost any sort of business can now be conducted via the internet. This includes shopping, gambling, gaming, programming, day-trading, data entry, transcribing, recruiting, accounting, payroll services, and even one as famously stress-filled as wedding planner.

It turns out that the internet is also a great place for learning, particularly when it comes to certifications. Of course, once instruction began taking place online, it was only a matter of time before somebody came up with the idea that testing could also be done online. Hence the introduction of remote proctoring, (also known as online proctoring) the “process by which a candidate is proctored live over the internet via a web camera rather than being proctored by someone in the same physical location.”

Candidates who are being remote proctored typically sit in front of their computer keyboards and screens with a camera focused on them. Proctors watch test takers through the camera in order to detect any cheating activities like crib-notes or unauthorized study materials. Proctors can view the entire room and even detect any prolonged eye-movements away from the screen that might indicate a candidate is looking at notes.

During the last decade, remote proctoring has become a widely accepted method for delivering tests to students and candidates. One major advantage is cost savings: test providers don’t need to set-up an established test site and test takers can avoid having to spend a great deal of time and money traveling to a designated testing site.

Academic institutions in particular have found remote proctoring to be good fit for themselves and their students. However, credentialing and licensing bodies have only recently begun to experiment with remote proctoring with the greatest interest coming from credentialing organizations, particularly those offering IT certifications.

Given the IT community’s increased interest in remote proctoring, the ITCC Securing Certifications subcommittee commissioned the Remote Proctoring Task Force to document the pros and cons of remote proctoring, interview IT certification organizations regarding their experience with remote proctoring, and provide considerations for those exploring the adoption of remote proctoring.

Certifying organizations are increasingly enamored with remote proctoring because the process enables them to introduce new content to the course quickly and easily and, since exam sessions are typically recorded, they can readily audit proctors and exam candidates to help resolve any complaints or issues that arise.

Accessibility is the most commonly mentioned reason for an organization to utilize remote proctoring. The increased coverage and convenience to candidates is vital to companies with global programs, whose candidates often have to drive long distances or fly to testing centers. One company interviewed stated that “offering online proctoring makes it more convenient for current candidates, and potentially opens opportunities for new business.”

Remote proctoring has thus far proven helpful, but it’s not a panacea for either candidates or certifying organizations. There are advantages and disadvantages in each of the following areas:

  • Testing Environment
  • Perceptions of Remote Proctoring
  • Exam Structure
  • Access/Convenience and Geographical Reach
  • Comfort and Anxiety
  • Cost
  • Technology
  • Privacy

For example, the comfort and anxiety levels of candidates can vary greatly. Some may be comfortable using the technology in their home or office and are able to ignore the camera. Others however, may find the camera distracting and the limitations on body and eye movements to be intimidating and stressful.

It’s the same with access and convenience. While certification opportunities are open to individuals living or working in remote areas, such opportunities require the proper technology and internet access.

While remote proctoring appears to be here to stay, there are certain questions one should answer before deciding to implement it, including: what are the benefits to your organization, what happens if a candidate experiences technical issues during an exam, and how will you ensure the privacy of test takers in compliance with the legal requirements of different countries.

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About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry.

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