How to choose the most suitable eProctoring tool?
In this post, we will continue with the series of articles related to eProctoring. This time, we will focus on the factors that must be considered when choosing the most appropriate tool according to the needs of each educational center.
Based on our experience, the determining factors when selecting an eProctoring tool are:
1. Functionalities offered
2. Integrations with the Learning Management Systems (LMS) and assessment systems
3. Technical features
4. Legal aspects
There are several functionalities that must be analyzed when choosing an eProctoring tool. The most important ones are described below:
Identity verification using a webcam
eProctoring tools are based on the comparison between images captured during the test and a reference image, usually taken from an identity document. This reference image is normally taken at the beginning of each test, so the student has to show their identity document to the camera. There are also systems that offer the possibility of making a single registration for every student, so that this identity record is valid for all the exams taken by a specific student in a given period of time.
- Random image capture during the exam
The main form of identity verification is by capturing images of the student while taking the exam. These captures can be made randomly in time or with a fixed time interval between them.
There are also tools that record the entire session, allowing a second-by-second monitoring. This provides a greater degree of security but, in general, requires greater technical needs on the part of the students' computer.
- Monitoring of the student’s activity
In order to reduce the options for cheating, some eProctoring tools allow to monitor the activity on the student’s computer. Within this set of functionalities, options such as the following can be found:
- Mandatory use of secure browsers
- Applications that record all computer activity
- Limitation of running applications (close other browsers, messaging applications, etc.)
- Possibility of disabling certain functions, such as right click, screenshots, copy and paste, etc.
- Avoid the use of virtual machines or remote desktops
- Force the exam to be performed in full screen mode
- Prevent visiting certain websites
- Clear the cache after the exam
Additional monitoring systems
In addition to the capture and analysis of images captured through the webcam, and the control of the student browsing and activity, eProctoring tools offer a varied set of surveillance systems:
- Analysis of the IP address, to identify students who may be taking the exam from the same place
- Recording of ambient sound
- Recording with a second camera
- Analysis of the student's web traffic
- 360º recording of the space from which the test is being carried out (before starting it)
- Live eProctoring or surveillance with human supervision of the incidents detected.
- Typing pattern analysis
Reports for the assessors
It is indispensable that assessors receive a report of the student’s activity. The success of the implementation of eProctoring systems will largely depend on the quality of these reports and on the information they provide, which help assessors to focus their attention on those students suspicious of cheating. Some aspects to consider are:
- Availability of lists that allow reordering the elements by seriousness or volume of incidents
- Form and information contained in the reports, which facilitate a quick evaluation of every performed surveillance
- How long does it take to generate the report once the exam is finished
- Availability of reports or alerts of issues in real time that allow contacting the student in order to solve technical issues
A fundamental aspect to take into consideration is to ensure that the chosen tool can be integrated with the Learning Management Systems available in the institution.
Almost every tool can be directly integrated with the most widely used LMS platforms, such as Moodle or Blackboard; many of them also offer, at extra cost, the possibility of customized integrations through APIs.
3. Technical features
Another aspect to consider are the technical features of the eProctoring tool. At this point, it is important to bear in mind both the features of the solution itself and the technical needs they mean for the students.
Referring to the needs of the tool, it is important to consider aspects such as the cloud infrastructure used by each one of them, or metrics such as the maximum concurrency allowed (that is, the number of exams that can be performed simultaneously). In this sense, some tools offer the possibility of adapting their environments with specific clusters, designed for situations where it is necessary to guarantee the simultaneity of several thousand exams.
Regarding the technical needs of the student’s equipment, it is important to take into account issues such as:
- Minimum resolution of the required webcam
- Bandwidth of the internet connection necessary to ensure a proper functioning during the exam
- Requirements of the operating system versions or additional applications
4. Legal aspects
As per the legal aspects that may affect the choice of the tool, it is important to weight up points such as:
- Compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- The time that the information compiled remains stored in the systems of the supplier company, and if it is possible to request its deletion
In the event that several tools meet the minimum requirements of the institution, price can be a determining factor when choosing one.
When calculating the unit price per exam, it is important to analyze the price policies of each tool; based on them, prices can be defined by:
- Price per exam
- Price per user and/or course: each student pays a fixed fee that allows them to take unlimited exams
- License costs associated with the tool itself or with third-party software, as can happen with secure browsers
- Discounts for high volumes of exams (from several thousand exams in a given period of time)
After analyzing all the factors, it is possible that no tool fully meets the needs of the academic institution, either due to specific needs at integration level, data protection or monitoring requirements.
At this point, it may be reasonable to consider the development of a customized tool. Even though the initial investment will be higher, it can mean long-term savings at economic level due to the amortization with each of the tests carried out. It will also represent an improvement in the acceptance of the eProctoring tool by the entire educational community, since it will be fully adapted to its needs and processes.
Existing eProctoring tools offer a wide range of functionalities. Analyzing the features of each one will allow us to select those that better adapt to the specific needs and challenges of each educational center.
Opentrends can help and accompany educational institutions in this process of analysis, selection and implementation of the most appropriate tool.
The next article will close this series dedicated to eProctoring systems, by explaining how they can be incorporated into assessment processes.
Author: Carlos Carmona