Testing in an online learning environment is taking on a new look with the expansion of new technology solutions to protect the integrity of online courses. Online proctoring services offer a way for schools to maintain the strict testing environment of a brick-and-mortar school, while also providing a more structured and convenient option for students. Below we take a look at Penn Foster’s transition over to online proctoring, in an effort to continue building a modern distance learning opportunity for students across the nation.
The Transition to Online Proctoring
Starting in 2014, Penn Foster began introducing online proctoring as an additional option to a face-to-face proctor. Since then, thousands of remote proctored exams have been taken on Penn Foster’s systems, with less than 1% of proctored events flagged for infractions. What does this mean? It means that within this exam environment, students are unlikely to cheat. To simulate a traditional test-taking environment, the student is given strict guidelines regarding what they can and cannot do, including rules for what they are allowed to bring into the room with them, and when they are allowed to leave. The student is recorded via webcam while the testing system controls what the student sees on their screen. For additional identity verification, students are asked to present their license or ID to the webcam. The remote proctoring platform audits the recordings after the fact, and contacts Penn Foster with any reports of infractions.
For students who are unable to take remote proctoring, they must use paper proctored exams. In this case, the student finds someone who meets the requirements to proctor the exam, and Penn Foster verifies the individual. Penn Foster continues to work to switch over all exams to the remote proctor option, via an ongoing programmatic roll-out.
Ensuring Student Awareness
Penn Foster is well past the tipping point for integrating online proctoring across its suite of programs. By promoting the online proctoring option through webinars, life cycle communications and automated messages, students are well-aware and informed of the option. In order to establish an honour code and culture of integrity across Penn Foster’s program offerings, students are directed to the Student Handbook, which includes a section on academic integrity, plagiarism, and remote proctor FAQ’s. Students are made aware of Penn Foster’s rules and policies, expectations, and the full set of instructions for remote proctoring.
Supporting the Needs of the Modern Student
With paper proctor exams, students have to wait until the end of the semester to take all of their exams. Online proctoring allows students to take exams anytime, providing additional flexibility so a student may continue to progress at their own pace, without having to wait until the end of the semester to take their course exams. With the validity of online education frequently under fire, online schools must show that they are dedicated to student outcomes by setting them up for success. Online proctoring is one such measure to ensure students are learning the material, and lends a much higher degree of integrity and credibility to the school.