In the world of academic testing services, there is an ever-increasing array of options, enabling each institution to choose the best approach for their students and staff. While some may opt to continue offering exams in person, the growth of online education programs necessitates the flexibility provided by virtual proctoring.

However, even after making the decision to use online proctoring software, you will likely find yourself facing many more questions and decisions. Test proctoring services offer unattended automated exams, real-time live proctored exams and everything in between. Determining which format is best for your institution can be overwhelming but researching each online proctoring approach is a great way to get started.

To begin, we’ll consider live online proctoring — the positives, the negatives and why it might (or might not) be the best choice for your school.

Live Online Proctoring: The Cons

Unfortunately, live online proctoring has some significant drawbacks — because a proctor has to be present at every session, everything from scheduling to the exam experience itself can be more complicated. In addition, it is often a more costly solution for institutions.

  • Divided Attention — In many live proctoring scenarios, a single proctor monitors several students at a time — in some cases, up to ten at once. Unfortunately, this divides their attention and can impact the accuracy of their proctoring. While they are observing each student’s behavior throughout the entire exam, they may also miss attempts at academic dishonesty because they were focused on another student. This potential for distraction can undermine instructors’ confidence in the reports they receive for each exam, and it may also make students feel as though they can get away with dishonest behavior, emboldening them to make further cheating attempts in future exams.
  • Inconvenient Scheduling — Live proctoring requires exactly that — someone who can proctor a student’s exam live. As a result, most remote proctoring services limit when students can take exams and require them to schedule in advance. This is frustrating for students and can even lead to additional fees if something in their schedule changes, causing them to miss their time slot. Amidst their busy schedules, students are looking for convenient exam options, allowing them to take their exam whenever they are ready — whether it’s over lunch or after a late-night study session. Unfortunately, when they are tied to a live proctor’s schedule, this isn’t feasible.
  • Student Self-Consciousness — There’s one final drawback to live proctoring, and that is the student experience. Often, when students have a sense that they are being watched, they don’t perform as well on assessments. For honest students, in particular, this can be frustrating and may lead to scores that don’t accurately reflect the student’s body of knowledge. While it’s an effective way to rein in cheating, it also feeds self-consciousness and can feel like a punishment – an assumption of guilt. Many students find exams proctored in real-time to be more invasive and frustrating as they try to focus on the test content rather than the reality that someone is watching them throughout the process.

Live Online Proctoring: The Pros

Of course, there are several benefits to live online proctoring. It can increase faculty confidence in the online testing process and help administrators trust that the testing process will run smoothly.

  • Real-Time Intervention — When a student sits down at a computer to take an exam with a live remote proctor, they are monitored by someone who can intervene if something is amiss. Whether that’s because a student is attempting dishonest behavior (by, for instance, talking to someone else in the room) or because it appears that way (by reading questions aloud to themselves), a live proctor can immediately connect with the student and assess the situation. In the event of dishonesty, they can remind students of the rules and help them complete the rest of their exam with integrity. If, on the other hand, it was a miscommunication, they can easily verify so and help the student resume testing. Either way, in-the-moment intervention helps students have a better exam experience.
  • Human Touch — In a live online proctoring scenario, both students and faculty benefit from the assurance that a human is at the helm of all proctoring decisions. While the role of AI in educational technology is continually evolving to create new opportunities, it also raises concerns and questions for students and instructors alike. Live proctoring, on the other hand, puts everyone at ease because they are confident that their proctor is making accurate judgments throughout the testing process. Both parties have the assurance that, because the exam is proctored live, the report of the student’s behavior sent to their instructor is an accurate reflection of their testing experience.

Live Online Proctoring without the Cons

While many schools like the security provided by live proctors, the decision is not that simple—student experience continues to be key to program success, and live proctoring makes students uncomfortable. They have a harder time concentrating on their exam because they’re aware of a proctor watching them (and may even see that proctor via webcam in the corner of their screen).

The good news is that you can get all the benefits of live proctoring in a way that also helps students to succeed. In many cases, the right online proctoring approach is not live proctoring or automated, unattended proctoring but a hybrid of both.

With a solution like Honorlock’s Live Proctor Pop-In, schools get all the benefits of live proctoring, but students also get the freedom and convenience of an automated exam. Powerful AI proctoring monitors student behavior and alerts a live human proctor when intervention is needed, allowing for a real-time response when an issue arises. And it’s all on-demand, so students can take their exams whenever and wherever they are ready — 24/7/365.

For a further discussion of the benefits of advancing and refining online learning by removing the opportunity and temptation to cheat, have a look at our white paper on the topic.

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