Dear Commons Community,
In the past couple of years, the issue of monitoring online test takers keeps coming up in various meetings and forums. The accreditation agencies among others keep raising it with colleges and universities that offer online courses. Online cheating especially is generating concern as more students enroll in MOOCs for college credit, and not just for personal enrichment. Already, five classes from Coursera, a major MOOC provider, offer the possibility of credit, and many more are expected.
One option is for students to travel to regional testing centers at exam time. But reaching such centers is next to impossible for many students, whether working adults who can’t take time off to travel, or others in far-flung places who can’t afford the trip. The New York Times is also reporting on:
“… eavesdropping technologies worthy of the C.I.A. that can remotely track every mouse click and keystroke of test-taking students. Squads of eagle-eyed humans at computers can monitor faraway students via webcams, screen sharing and high-speed Internet connections, checking out their photo IDs, signatures and even their typing styles to be sure the test-taker is the student who registered for the class…
Employees at ProctorU, a company that offers remote proctoring, watch test-takers by using screen sharing and webcam feeds at offices in Alabama and California. ProctorU recently signed an agreement to proctor new credit-bearing MOOCs from Coursera, including one in genetics and evolution offered at Duke and one in single-variable calculus at the University of Pennsylvania.
MOOC students who want to obtain credit will be charged a remote-proctoring fee of $60 to $90, depending on the class, said Dr. Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera, based in Mountain View, Calif.
Other remote proctoring services offer different solutions. At Software Secure in Newton, Mass., test-takers are recorded by camera and then, later, three proctors independently watch a faster-speed video of each student.
Compared with services where proctors are monitoring students in real time, this combination of recording first and viewing later “gives greater latitude for the institution to adjust the timing of exams to whenever they want,” said Allison Sands, Software Secure’s director of marketing. The cost is now $15 per exam.”
In sum, online classes are not new anymore but earlier courses typically didn’t have to handle exam proctoring on the scale required for the multitude of students enrolled in MOOCs. New technology and service providers are evolving to address the problem.