Even before the pandemic forced schools to remote education, the most recent educational statistics showed that 6.6 million out of 19.7 million students at American degree-granting postsecondary institutions were pursuing some form of online education. Nearly half of those 6.6 million said that attending regular courses on campus is the greatest barrier to meeting their goals. Online education is clearly opening up an entire world of opportunity to those who would otherwise be unable to benefit. To make the system work, schools need to be certain that their academic standards are rigorously upheld. Assessment is therefore vital, which makes effective remote proctoring crucial. With millions of students, schools need both a reliable and scalable solution.

Honorlock was created by students for students and delights administrators and faculty who have tried other online proctors in the past. Users include schools of all sizes, from small to medium to three of the 10 largest universities in the United States. With so much attention directed at how the academic world is coping during the current global health crisis, Honorlock is well positioned, as the future of remote proctoring, to play an important role in maintaining academic integrity for schools and enabling life-changing success for students.

What is remote proctoring?

The 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act requires that institutions “verify the identity of students to ensure those who register for an online course are the ones who participate.” 

Remote proctoring authenticates both that the student signed up for a given online course is the one performing its work, and that exam-takers are using no unauthorized aids. In general, remote proctoring can be performed exclusively via AI or include a live proctor who takes control of a student’s computer and watches them for the duration. It might function to lock the student’s browser so that they cannot access other websites during the test, except for those approved by the professor. Honorlock brings the best of these functions to bear, while eliminating the worst.

Can a remote proctor see your screen?

The first question most students ask is whether someone will be watching their screen. With Honorlock, the answer is yes and no. The student’s webcam will be recording during the test, but no one is watching their exam in real-time. AI technology monitors each session, and, if it senses that something is wrong, it will trigger a live proctor to “Pop-in” via chat—no one’s face will float on the screen.   

The proctor will assess the situation, help the student get back on track, and post any notes about the incident for the faculty member before the exams need to be marked. After the test, one of our exam proctors may review the exam session to look for any potential violations, and a recording and any proctor notes will also be made available to the instructor.

What if the system flags something that isn’t a violation?

Honorlock uses a combination of AI technology and human proctors because we understand that things happen. Our hybrid approach is non-invasive, ensuring that students are able to keep full focus on their exams without any external distractions. If, for example, a test-taker accidentally looks off into the distance or their roommate (or little brother or sister, thanks to the pandemic) suddenly enters the room, then our human proctor will pop in via chat to assess the situation, make sure there isn’t an academic violation, and help the student to continue with the exam. Other possible triggers for a live proctor pop-in include insufficient lighting, background noise, or an incomplete room scan. Following the completion of the remotely proctored exam, the instructor will also be able to review the recording provided to review any flagged incidents.

Can you cheat on an online proctored exam?

Nearly 2,500 years ago, Greek dramatist Sophocles famously professed that he would “prefer to fail with honor than to win by cheating.” While most people would agree with him in spirit, in practice some convince themselves otherwise, especially if they perceive that the chances of being caught are slim. It is therefore incumbent upon schools to take steps to protect their degrees and programs for the majority of their students who are on Team Sophocles and committed to succeeding with honor. 

Since there will always be some who stop at nothing to find a shortcut, the value of remote proctoring is most pronounced as a deterrent. To that end, Honorlock provides the best methods of deterrence available. Cody Moyer, Director of Learning Technology at Polk State College puts it succinctly: “The features that Honorlock has to offer blew everyone else out of the water,” adding that the most powerful for him were Search and Destroy™ and Multi-Device Detection. Without actually taking control of smartphones or tablets a student may have secreted during the 360-degree scan of their test environment, Honorlock’s patented technology can tell when such devices are searching the internet for test answers. At that point, our on-demand and always available certified proctors can intervene and return the student to the right track.

Can virtual proctoring really do all it promises?

With Honorlock’s blended AI and live Pop-In proctors it certainly can—and already is—for an increasing number of American colleges and universities seeking to uphold academic integrity while they broaden their reach or simply cope with the coronavirus.  Students can take their exams exactly when they feel most intellectually, physically, and emotionally prepared. Whether that be 2 p.m. or 2 a.m., our 24/7/365 support is ready to help.

University of Florida psychology lecturer Ryan Mears adds that virtual proctoring does even more than expected: 

“Honorlock was more than a tool to guard or block students from using inappropriate information. It was also a means to detect and determine many different ways that students approach the exams. Because of access to the wealth of data/information through Honorlock, I became better able to utilize it.”

Honorlock has helped tens of thousands of students achieve their online education dreams in the past five years, and is proud to stand ready to help millions more in the next decade and beyond.