Online Proctoring and Privacy – The Much-Needed Conversation
By Rajeev Menon, Strategic Advisor at Talview
Originally published on the Talview Blog
The world of EdTech is buzzing with the uptick of online learning and an increasing intent to adopt remotely delivered assessments. Given that the coverage of remote proctored exams was much lower compared to eLearning so far, the former is turning out to be a massive change that needs getting used to. The change towards remote assessments has been accelerated inarguably by the emergence of COVID-19 and the subsequent uncertainty of exam administration in the traditional format. Video proctored remote exams are proving to be the only viable solution at this point.
Lots has been written about the features and benefits of various types of video proctoring tools available to users. Automated, manual, and hybrid methodologies are the various types of remote proctoring being spoken of and deployed, and the advantages vary from increased flexibility and bias removal to lower costs, disability & inclusion-friendliness, and minimized error rates. Technology is moving rapidly and making it easier for exam stakeholders to adopt remote proctoring, overcoming many apprehensions that are a natural part of any change.
Despite the obvious advantages, there seems to be an inertia in some quarters, to transition to this mode of exams. There are multiple reasons for this:
- Access: Bandwidth and infrastructure concerns
- Reliability of remote proctoring solutions in preventing exam fraud
- Exam content changes: To move from pen-paper to online (especially non-admissions exams)
- Privacy and intrusion concerns
- Exam content leakages
While a mix of technology, process, and redesign is helping overcome these obstacles, this article will cover apprehensions around Privacy and Intrusion.
Privacy and Intrusion in Video Proctored Exams
One of the major apprehensions around implementing a remote proctoring solution in recent times has been the concerns being raised by test-takers around privacy and intrusion. As mentioned earlier, remote proctoring involves using a video stream from the test machine, that is either analyzed using video analytics to identify unacceptable behavior, or a human proctor views or reviews the video to identify misdemeanor and take appropriate action.
In addition to continuously viewing the test-taker, many proctoring tools also monitor the candidate test system to ensure that candidate has no access to non-permissible resources on the system itself or the internet.
All this leads to possibly a few scenarios of intrusion:
- Proctor being able to view the environment the test-taker is in, which is quite often a private space.
- Candidate finding the video of the proctor looking continuously at them, which can be disconcerting.
- The proctoring tool getting access to the system of the test-taker and a heightened apprehension of access to private/confidential info on the computer.
Fortunately, each of these scenarios can easily be handled by the sensitive design of the proctoring implementation. The following points should be considered strongly while implementing a proctoring tool:
- Knowledge and Awareness: Ensure that the test-taker is kept fully aware of the kind of space the test should be taken in. Ideally, the test-taker should be seated with his/her back to a wall so that there is no need for the proctor to have access to view the space behind the candidate. The rest of the space is typically seen once during the 360-degree check at the start of the test. Subsequent misconducts, if any, can be spotted by an AI-based auto proctoring tool inbuilt into the Live proctoring platform. The process should be such that the proctor needs to access the candidates’ screen and view it in detail only when the software triggers a flag. This will require that the AI proctor is advanced enough to identify a wide range of suspicious activities.
- Process Optimization: Restricting proctor interaction with the candidate through a one-way chat is a good practice to remove the candidates’ apprehension about seeing the video of a human viewing them from the computer screen.
- No downloads: There should be no requirement for a test taker to download any new software or apps on her/his test machine. Well-designed and test-taker-sensitive proctoring platforms can provide all the features of secure proctoring without requiring the test-taker to download possibly intrusive applications. This can be achieved through an optimized combination of technology and monitoring/review processes.
The benefits of remote online proctoring are rather significant. Beyond the undeniable benefits of flexibility, comfort, lower costs, scalability, and candidate experience, remote proctoring can transform examinations as a component of effective learning. The world of learning is moving exponentially faster than ever in adopting exams from home and ending all apprehensions around privacy and security is the foremost responsibility of the exam body. Technology and maturing processes today allow that to be easily accomplished, fortunately.
In conclusion, the benefits of remote exams are massive and game-changing towards the core idea of learning outcome improvement and democratization, but the concerns that have arisen on its implementation can also be handled well using the right mix of technology and process design.