The recent pandemic accelerated the adoption of online invigilation and proctoring and for some odd reason, it generated resistance from both students and lecturers. ‘Big brother is watching’, ‘I am being spied upon’, ‘this is an invasion of my privacy’ and other comments do not accurately reflect the benefits of online invigilation, especially as mobile phones are a vastly greater form of surveillance which are accepted and adopted by the majority of students (and mobiles track 24/7 whereas invigilation apps only record for the duration of the exam). Actually, students contribute willingly to the data that can be gathered via mobile phones, so why are they reluctant to be invigilated in an online exam?
When participating in an invigilated exam, students that are doing the right thing really have nothing to worry about. In the majority of cases, students are deterred from cheating when there is a mechanism in place to help ensure academic integrity, whereas a portion of the population will cheat with or without an invigilation tool. Cheating students make a managed risk decision which will involve a calculation as to the probability of being detected, caught and degree of punishment.
The cause and effect of cheating cannot be focused on the invigilation tool. Reasons for cheating vary, it could be language barriers, it could be laziness, it could be cultural or socio-economic (‘my friends all cheat, so will I’) and often it is due to pressure to perform and achieve high marks. This pressure is not at all related to the invigilation platform.
Here are six benefits of online invigilation/proctoring…
- Less stress on the student. We all know that exams are stressful & anxiety-inducing for students at the best of times. A whole semester or year of learning results in a few hours of testing to prove that they have learnt the content. It can be even more stressful for students to be travelling to school and waiting an eternity for an exam to start with the focus on completing and getting out of the exam hall. Completing an exam using online invigilation in the comfort of a student’s home is far less daunting than a crowded exam hall that should have fewer distractions.
- Easier for institutions to administer exams. Back in the olden days when exams were all pencil and paper, it was much easier to print off papers and hand them out for completion. Today’s exam questions can involve video footage for interpretation or context and can involve colour pictures or even audio. Using a learning management system with online invigilation to administer exams simplifies the management and viewing of content where a student can effectively complete an exam on a PC remotely.
- Recordings can be archived for future case reference. The traditional on-campus exam is not recorded so it is very hard to prove any form of historical academic misconduct whereas online exams that are invigilated are recorded, so in the case of academic misconduct other assessments can be also reviewed to determine similar patterns. This also opens for far greater intelligence/insight into exam structures and content where institutions could ask questions such as ‘why did a certain % of a cohort cheat on a specific question?’
- Non-intrusive on the student. Developers of invigilation applications have had to make the process as simple as possible. Basically, all a student needs to do is install a web browser plugin, log into a learning management system, and then start the exam. From there a verification process is completed and then the recording starts in the background. Once a student starts an exam, they would not know that an invigilation application is running, and then once finished the invigilated recordings are uploaded.
- More accommodating for working & remote students. Given that many courses today are online and completed by workers in industry it can be a disruption to travel to an exam hall to conduct an exam. Online invigilation allows students to complete exams with academic integrity outside the campus.
- Students do not need to upgrade hardware for online invigilation. It is a common misconception that online invigilation requires a powerful computer. This is not the case and most online invigilation platforms are not demanding on hardware or connectivity.
The effectiveness of online invigilation should not be measured on detection rates alone; the main emphasis should be on the deterrence of cheating cases, which is very hard to quantify.
If you are an academic institution considering how best to address online academic misconduct, then we are open to a further discussion about your needs with online invigilation.