This is a guest post by Michael London, President and CEO of Examity. Michael London is a recognized thought-leader in the education sector with more than 20 years of professional accomplishments and innovations. He founded Examity in April of 2013 and serves as its president and CEO. Mr. London received a BS degree with honors from Babson College and an MBA in Management from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

Online learning in higher education is continuing to explode in popularity. Research estimates that nearly 6 million American undergraduates now take at least one course online— one-quarter of the postsecondary student body. And online programs are enabling colleges and universities to support a growing population of nontraditional students, many of whom balance work or family commitments in addition to their studies.

But the promise of online learning is not without its challenges— including the fact that verifying a student’s identity can be trickier over the internet than it is face-to-face. As a result, colleges and universities are increasingly looking for solutions that can help them ensure the quality and integrity of online programs. That’s where online proctoring comes in.

What is online proctoring?

In response to the demand for quality assurance and identity verification in online assessment, proctoring services provide a suite of tools to help students prove they are who they say they are. This could include screen-sharing, as well as other technologies like biometric keystroke recognition, which recognizes each student’s unique typing style. Examity is unique, in that we offer the only solution that allows multiple forms of proctoring, seamlessly, within a single platform. This includes live, in which a proctor tunes in by webcam and monitors test-takers; recorded, in which student behavior is reviewed after test completion; and fully automated.

Of course, every college and university has its own approach to online learning— from offering full degree pathways to focusing on specific courses and certifications. As a result, each school requires a customized approach designed to streamline the process and support its unique student population.

As online learning continues to evolve, proctoring must also adapt to meet the changing landscape and the shifting needs of students and institutions. What does the future hold for the space, and what trends have we at Examity begun to see?

1) The market is ‘going mobile’

The vast majority of undergraduates—nearly nine in ten—own a smartphone. Most online college students complete some of their work on a mobile device.

For the growing number of students who rely on their mobile devices as the most accessible way to engage in their coursework, mobile proctoring is a way for universities to meet students where they are. Not only that, but most smartphones come equipped with state-of-the-art verification features like fingerprint scan and facial recognition, helping to streamline the proctoring process.

2) Institutions are tapping data

Data-driven approaches that shed light on macro trends in online test security are still in their early stages. Institutions need data in order to benchmark against their peers and identify pain points in their approach to proctoring.

To address this challenge, Examity is launching an analytics platform, examiDATA, that draws upon data from hundreds of thousands of test-takers nationwide to provide actionable insights on cheating patterns and violations. Recently, an initial examiDATA pilot with 325,000 students found that cheating rose and fell with the seasons— dropping from 6.62% to 5.49% between fall and spring, but rising over the summer to reach a new high of 6.65%. These snapshots can help reveal large-scale trends in online testing security, helping institutions hone their proctoring over time to curb violations and increase the security of assessments.

3) The value of staying flexible

Nontraditional learners are fast becoming the “new normal” in higher education. The term covers an array of students, including those who are working part-time or full-time, returning from military service, or taking care of children or other dependents. To provide a streamlined, supportive online experience for nontraditional students, it is critical for schools to be as flexible as possible— and online proctoring must follow suit.

For instance, we at Examity worked with the team at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi to integrate remote proctoring and ID verification directly into their Blackboard LMS. The partnership included flexible exam levels and fee structure, which allowed us to adapt down to the course level to ensure affordability and accessibility for the school and its students alike. Not only that, but our round-the-clock proctoring services allow test-takers at Texas A&M, including nontraditional students and rural commuters, to fit their assessments to their own schedules.

Today’s undergraduate may not fit the profile of a typical college student— making it all the more important that we anticipate and respond to their needs, in order to make high-quality educational experiences available to all learners. Download our case study about solving today's test integrity challenges

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