Online student monitoring: remote supervisors and other technologies to prevent cheating on assessments


By CAPosts 04 May, 2020 - 12:02pm 622 views

A high school student attends an online class from her home in Paris. (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

the coronavirus changed, within a few weeks, the daily routine of billions of people worldwide. One such change was the acceleration of digitization in multiple areas, including in schools. Remote education was implemented with quarantine.

While in many corners of the world, the digital format was more or less implemented, which was optional and confined to certain issues, it became a quasi-massive practice.

Educational platforms and videocalls applications began to be implemented, like never before, but that's not all: also started to grow the use of students' remote monitoring systems when they take exams. They are programs known as online supervisors (online proctors) that began to experience a spike in popularity, in some countries such as the United States.

These systems, which are contracted by schools and universities, seek to ensure that the student does not cheat during the evaluation. For this purpose they use technologies such as facial recognition, to verify the identity of the user, as well as eye tracking: it could be considered that the student would be considered that the student spends a lot of time with the view off the screen.

In addition, the (human) supervisor who is continuously online, assisting in this monitoring, may require students to pan, with the camera of the device they are using, to verify that there is no other in the room providing them with help.

ProctorU is one of the monitoring systems that are being used today. When starting a test with this tool, the students have to identify themselves, show the room where they are and the desktop to show that they have no items in sight to cheat.

ProtoctorU, one of the digital solutions that offer monitoring during online evaluation.

In the remote supervisor will also be listening through the student's microphone to make sure he doesn't seek to ask for help down that path . The supervisor also has access to the student's screen and receives alerts when the person opens a browser tab to, for example, search for exam responses or opens a window with the answers and looks to copy and paste that information into the assessment.

Not only do they verify the student's identity with the ID and facial recognition system, but they also use a typing test: a student may be asked to write 140 words at the beginning of the semester. With this data, the student is then asked just before the test to perform that same test to check the speed and rhythms of the student's keystrokes. Any discrepancies can be marked for closer inspection, as explained in an article from the Washington Post where this software was analyzed in detail.

Examity also offers services of this type and also experienced great growth in the last time: it went from having 10 online supervisors in 2014 and having more than a thousand today. To use this platform, students must have a computer with a working webcam, a stable Internet connection and make sure they are in a room where they can take the test alone, without interference or help from outside.

Regarding how the team of supervisors is integrated, the page mentions that they are people with communication skills, technical knowledge, as well as university professionals. "Each exam supervisor has been interviewed by a member of the senior management team," he or she is mentioned on the site, implying that there is an individual selection process.

Honorlock is another company that offers exam monitoring solutions. In addition to having an online supervisor and many of the aforementioned technology, a mentions that an artificial intelligence system listens to keywords to identify "possible acts of dishonesty", in which case the online supervisor is alerted to intervene at the moment.

ProctorTrack also integrates computer vision and offers biometric multi-factor authentication to log in as well as continuous facial recognition throughout the process.

Why the vu company, focused on fraud prevention and identity protection, offers a combination of machine learning and biometria to facilitate online exam-taking. The company offers a solution that allows the student to prove that they are in front of the screen through facial recognition. With any device that has a camera, the system can corroborate in real time if it is in front of the monitor performing the exam and is who it claims to be, it stands out in the statement disseminated by the company.

In addition, it is possible to present with the same mechanism or, by using unique security codes, also known as mobile tokens, as the second factor of authentication.

In addition to the use of video calls, the use of different student monitoring tools began to grow when conducting assessments (REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo)

Beneffectials and Challenges

These online monitoring systems seek to respond to a current problem: monitor remote assessments. One of the great challenges of such solutions is to take strategies to take care of the security and privacy of the data that is exchanged in that way. All companies ensure that mechanisms are in place to take care of these aspects.

But as you always know, nothing in the digital environment is 100% foolproof. Saber this is necessary to take precautions that go beyond the software itself that is used and that have to do with keeping the devices up to date, download apps only from official stores and employ second factor of authentication in all accounts, whenever possible. As you know: security not only uses a reliable infrastructure, but also of having a consicent user who knows how to handle it in the digital environment.

The other aspect of this type of software is the stress that can generate in some students who may feel invaded by this type of software. In an article by The Verge ifs collect testimonials that account for this. There it is mentioned that the online supervisor experience monitoring every movement that is made for many students is an "uncomfortable" or "intrusive" experience. the Washington Post article earlier also includes testimonies to this effect, such as from a student who preferred to stop taking the exam and abandon the subject matter he was taking, to allow a monitoring system to access his computer remotely to supervise him, on the grounds that he was giving up too much freedom in pursuit of this situation.


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