This week, Software Secure officially announced Securexam Remote Proctor.
Developed with the assistance of Troy University, Remote Proctor eliminates the need for students to go to campus to take an exam or arrange to have a proctor for every testing situation. The product combines security software, biometrics and video to authenticate the identity of a test-taker and ensure the test experience is as honest as it would be in the classroom.
Every exam can be a take-home exam. The ability to take the exam remotely while ensuring academic integrity is a big issue. For nontraditional students, including distance learners, who no longer have to go to a testing center or find a proctor. For professors and educational institutions, who can now be assured that their remote testing is credible as well as convenient.
But it’s actually even more important, because what this technology does is remove one of the biggest roadblocks to viable, widespread distance education.
Thanks to the Internet, we’ve overcome many of the obstacles to distance learning. Web sites. Email. Second Life. Podcasts. Course Management Systems. All these tools make it possible for a professor to share her knowledge and teach her students, no matter where they are. And in the case of time-shifted lectures via podcast, they don’t even have to be “in class” at the same time. Teaching, learning. We’ve got that covered.
But an education system requires evaluation and assessment. Accreditation. But the test alternatives for remote learners have been limited, and often expensive, depending on how far the learner is from an approved place to take the test. Without a cost effective way to ensure the integrity of remote, unproctored, testing, the development of comprehensive distance education – topic to test – is next to impossible.
Not anymore. Remote Proctor changes the landscape. And it costs about the same as the average college textbook.
Think about it. If you are just taking an online language course so when you go to France you can ask for a coffee or the check, when you cheat on the test, the only person you cheat is yourself. If you are taking a comprehensive exam for a certification or a degree, it is an entirely different story. You are cheating yourself and everyone else who is taking the exam without cheating. You are cheating the people who rely on your degree or certification to ensure a certain level of competency.
When we eliminate cheating, we eliminate a significant roadblock to distance education.
Now, I am well aware that this little post isn’t going to change widespread terminology. Distance learning is the terminology in use today, and is likely to be for some time. But now that we’ve eliminated a key barrier to acceptance of remote testing, over time folks will develop a new expectation for true distance education. One that includes assessment with test integrity as well as instruction.
How Remote Proctor works
For something so critical, it is pretty simple. I’m sure the engineers who developed it would read me chapter and verse on how making something this simple and easy to use is actually a pretty complex and involved task. But for the students and professors using it, it will be easy. A lot easier than driving to a testing center.
The Remote Proctor device connects to the student’s computer. When it is time to take the test, she identifies herself by fingerprint. The Securexam software provides access to available exams, and also locks down access to other resources that might be on the computer -- Internet, email, files, etc. The student has access to the test and only the test. The camera in the unit records a 360-degree real-time video and audio view of the environment during the entire exam. Movement, other than the expected typing away at the keyboard, is transmitted to the professor. The result: the professor knows that the person taking the test is the student, and she isn’t getting any additional help from friends in the room. Or not, as the case may be.
Remote Proctor was developed with the invaluable assistance of Troy University. Here’s what one of their professors has to say:
“Having the Securexam Remote Proctor System in my class will allow me to preserve the essence of distance learning while maintaining academic standards. The Securexam Remote Proctor System enables me to maintain exam integrity and the ‘anytime, anywhere’ flexibility of online education.” -- Dr. Murray Widener, professor of Public Administration at Troy University,
The Securexam Remote Proctor System will be available in September 2007.