Is online learning a decades-old trend that is still in its infancy? Many experts would say yes. That’s exciting news for innovation and access to education, but for those tasked with protecting academic integrity, the challenges have never been greater. According to a recent study by Wiley, 93% of instructors surveyed believe students are more likely to cheat in an online learning environment. To combat the growing opportunities and temptations for some students to act dishonestly, a majority of institutions have been turning to online proctoring to protect their academic integrity.
Why online assessments need online proctoring
Donald Cressey, designer of the well-known Fraud Triangle, explained that the average individual needs a combination of need, rationalization, and opportunity to commit dishonest acts. This triangle is relevant to online academic dishonesty as well. Dr. Ryan P. Mears, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Florida, and an Honorlock online proctoring customer, explains that “the fraud triangle in online learning involves a student’s need for top grades.
The rationalizations might include the prevalence of cheating, a low likelihood of being caught, a mismatch in the expectations of students and the course instructor, and even normalization by means of social media. Then the disconnected nature of online learning often provides the opportunity.” Institutions have learned that all three of these components must be minimized as much as possible in order to fully protect academic integrity.
When exams shift from being proctored and in-person to being unproctored and online, both the opportunities for cheating skyrocket and the likelihood of catching such violations plummets. Whether it’s a quick Google search on their phone, a whispered answer from the roommate who has already taken the test, or an online test bank that includes all the questions and answers, online assessment opens up many ways for students to satisfy the “triangle” criteria and be overwhelmed by temptation. Certainly, it won’t be every student who resorts to dishonest acts when faced with unproctored online exams, and the morality of students, in general, is not being disparaged here.
But, in a high stakes testing situation without online proctoring, it is simply human nature that a) the need for a positive outcome, b) the rationalization that everybody’s doing it, and c) the increased opportunity and sense that the risks of being caught are low, may combine to result in higher rates of academic dishonesty. A widespread lowering of such standards could ultimately harm your school’s reputation and your students’ quality of learning. Cody Moyer, Director of Learning Technology at Polk State College, an Honorlock customer who has seen a reduction in academic dishonesty in both his school’s nursing and business programs, reinforces the importance of online proctoring: “if we can’t verify that our students are the ones who are completing the work, and all of our quizzes are out there on the internet where anyone can look up the answers, what kind of quality is that degree?”
Many institutions have realized how online assessments change the game for academic integrity protection, and regard online proctoring as an indispensable tool within the larger toolkit for maintaining academic integrity. Joseph Riquelme, Former Assistant VP of Online at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, an Honorlock user, underscores this point: “When you’re building online programs you want to make sure you have a diverse set of tools that faculty members can employ, and proctoring should be one of those tools available to them.” When institutions combine the security of online proctoring with other tools, such as clear academic integrity policies and well-designed assessments, they can feel confident in embracing everything distance learning has to offer without worrying about academic dishonesty.
What holds some institutions back from proctored testing?
If online proctoring is becoming more and more indispensable for protecting academic integrity, what holds back some schools, and maybe your own school, from taking the next steps? Across our numerous conversations with administrators considering these steps, we have noticed that the most common reservations arise from the three categories below.
Online proctoring effectiveness: Institutions want to know if the solution works, plain and simple. Some wonder if online proctoring can stay ahead of the online tactics for dishonesty. Can proctored testing really ensure a test environment that provides fair and equitable assessment for all students?
In order to “work,” a strong online proctoring solution should go well beyond a basic lock-down browser. It requires a variety of capabilities to stop the vast majority of online exam dishonesty. At Honorlock, we use a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach, leveraging AI technology combined with trained remote proctors to monitor the online exam in real-time. We then send reports of incidents to the instructor along with the recordings to review as needed. Honorlock goes several steps further than other online proctoring systems, offering exclusive features, such as:
- Multi-device detection: award-winning, patented technology that detects mobile devices searching test answers online during exams
- Live Pop-in: an automated system that will prompt a live remote proctor to “Pop-in” to a student’s exam session if there’s a problem
- Search and Destroy: secures your online exam answers with technology that automatically searches your test content from across the Internet and issues takedown notices on your behalf to unauthorized sites.
- Voice Detection: Artificial Intelligence listens for keywords to identify possible acts of academic dishonesty and alerts a live proctor to intervene in real-time.
Clearly, our developers recognize that to be worthwhile, your online proctoring service should leave you with no doubt that it can catch online exam academic dishonesty when it occurs.
If you’re evaluating online proctoring services, read more here to discover what you should be looking for to ensure your solution will truly protect your academic integrity.
Cost in time and money: Schools need solutions that will be easy to implement and train faculty and students to use. They also want solutions that are cost-effective and can show tangible results.
The better online proctoring tools are not labor-intensive to set up, as they are usually browser extensions that work within your LMS. At Honorlock, our setup is remarkably easy: customers can have the proctoring solution running in as few as two days. Many institutions came to Honorlock in the early days of the pandemic with urgent online proctoring requests and were surprised by how pain-free the setup was. St. Petersburg College (SPC), for example, had to set up a solution just two days before finals.
Christopher Harvey, Executive Director of Academic Technology at SPC, stated, “All of the faculty were able to adapt within the two days; all were able to use it and review the tests. We did it quick!”
Lindsey Eaton, Online Course Testing Coordinator, said, “The transition was almost seamless.” Honorlock also makes this implementation so easy by offering a variety of training for administrators and faculty, as well as 24-hour support for students, which keeps the pressure off the institution and its resources.
Honorlock works with institutions to make sure they get only the coverage they need, and within budget. No higher education institution is too small or too large, and our rates scale with your need for a cost-effective solution, no matter the size.
Honorlock’s detailed academic integrity reports also ensure that institutions can see results in protecting academic integrity in significant detail, as Ryan Mears from University of Florida notes:
“I felt that I couldn’t trust my test scores before Honorlock. The analytics that comes with the flags and real-time recording helped me to understand how students were approaching the course and what strategies they were using to pass the test. Honorlock helped me make sense of what was going on in my online course and it gave me confidence that academic integrity was upheld.”
Mears was able to adjust his questions to better encourage his students to show him what they had learned, which is what all course assessments strive to do.
Student trust and well-being: Honor codes and codes of conduct are not just words to higher education institutions. Schools expect a level of trust with students and want their students to trust in them. Part of earning that trust is ensuring students are protected in the areas of privacy and well-being. Any solution, including online proctoring, should not erode this trust or goodwill.
The best online proctoring services work within your academic integrity policies, acting as a deterrent to protect these policies. At Honorlock, our primary goal is not to “catch cheaters”, but to prevent dishonesty before it happens by eliminating the opportunities. Behind this philosophy is a key value of treating all our customers, whether they are administration, faculty, or students with the same level of professionalism and respect.
Honorlock was actually built by students at Florida Atlantic University, and we continue to take steps to ensure the student perspective is always taken into account, training our proctors to communicate in a way in which they would want to be communicated with, no matter the circumstance. This perspective also extends into our solution design, which centers around student flexibility. Honorlock online proctoring is simple to use with any computer, without software downloads, and available 24/7 without prior scheduling with full technical and proctoring support. Respecting the student perspective is a key way Honorlock sets itself apart from other proctoring solutions and helps institutions maintain trust with students while protecting their academic integrity.
Online proctoring services should also enable, and never hinder, the learning experience. Proctoring solutions should lower anxiety and provide peace-of-mind to students that they and their peers are all taking tests on a level playing field, without anyone being able to game the system. When taking online exams, students don’t want extra things to worry about, and expect an online proctoring solution to stay in the background when they are adhering to the rules.
Dr. Juliette Mersiowsky, former Director of Distance Education at Longwood University, another Honorlock institution, has been impressed with Honorlock’s reputation among students there, stating “I don’t get any complaints about [Honorlock]. [Students] say it’s quick and easy, once they start the exam, they don’t even notice that they’re being proctored, which helps to reduce test anxiety.”
When it comes to student privacy and data security, Honorlock does everything we can to educate students and faculty on exactly what data is used and why. Just as would happen if a student walked to class to take a test, students should be prepared to be monitored visually and to create a quiet environment for themselves to take their assessments. It is in the best interests of the school and student that an appropriate testing environment is maintained, and this is ensured through visual, audio, and data verification. It should be noted that Honorlock only collects data expressly requested by the institution, and this data is highly encrypted, deleted per school policy, and never sold or shared.
Daphne St. Val, Senior Instructional Designer at Broward County Community College, which also uses Honorlock remote proctoring, noted that her students were initially concerned about their privacy, but “little by little,” she said, they became comfortable: “When you download the [lightweight Chrome browser] extension, it’s not tapping into anything other than what you do during your screen sharing.” Ultimately, the best online proctoring solutions work with the school to balance building student trust with ensuring a fair test-taking environment, not only to protect against academic misconduct but also to provide the best environment for the student to succeed.
When it comes to adopting new technology, many people are understandably hesitant. Individuals want to know that the technology being presented to them really works without negative consequences. Whether it’s online banking, social media, or simple online searching, it takes time for these technologies to prove they are safe and useful. Over time, these online functions have all added security layers, which helps build trust with customers. At Honorlock, we see the best online proctoring solutions already becoming the type of essential security feature that makes sure online assessments are a viable option.
Honorlock Online proctoring: the best of both worlds
The flexibility of online assessments is extremely compelling, both for faculty and for students. Yet many faculty—and entire institutions—have been hesitant to move exams online due to academic dishonesty concerns. On the surface, in-person testing seems difficult to beat when it comes to upholding academic integrity. In-class tests are almost always proctored by an individual, students generally take tests simultaneously, and it is arguably more difficult for students to cheat when being surrounded by their peers and in a contained environment.
When the pandemic struck, an immediate need arose for many assessments to be pushed out of the classroom and online. At that point and afterward, unprepared institutions struggled through the fear of their online assessment environments becoming like the wild west. For many of these schools scarred by academic dishonesty and student distrust, moving back to classroom exams seems like the obvious solution.
For many Honorlock remote proctoring customers, however, there is no going back from online assessments, as they quickly realized they could achieve the best of in-person protection with the flexibility of students being able to take tests wherever and whenever they want.
When facing the pandemic in the spring of 2020, Ken Craver, Director of Distance Education at Tyler Junior College, said “we knew when our testing center was no longer available that Honorlock would be the answer to our proctoring needs…[with Honorlock, students] don’t have to make a reservation like they used to do. They just log in and take the test anytime within the time window provided by the faculty member. It just works!” For customers like Tyler College, online proctoring was truly the best of both worlds.
We are proud to note that of the 300+ schools that have implemented Honorlock, 100% currently continue to use our services.
From the academic integrity perspective, the best online proctoring solutions go beyond just trying to equal the protection afforded with in-person exams. In many ways, the level of detail and service provided to an institution is significantly stronger than anything that can be done in the classroom.
With Honorlock proctored testing, AI technology monitors the online exam live, combined with online human exam proctors that can review the exam recording when necessary. Reports of any incidents are sent to the instructor along with the recordings to review as needed. Imagine getting that type of security from one in-classroom proctor!
It’s easy to see why institutions with this tool in their academic integrity toolkit are confidently expanding their online learning capacity without fear of compromising their reputation. While online learning is arguably still in its infancy, its acceleration by the pandemic shows few signs of slowing down. You want to make sure your school is taking advantage of online learning, while simultaneously living free from worry about a loss of academic integrity. With the security of an online proctoring solution, you can do just that!
To learn more about how Honorlock can help your institution, sign up for a demo today!
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