Certificate vs. Certification vs. Licensure

Certificate vs Certification vs Licenses

Certificates, certifications, and licenses formally recognize knowledge, skills, and qualifications, but…

  • Earning a certificate doesn’t mean you’re certified… 
  • And earning a certification doesn’t mean you’re awarded a certificate… 
  • Sometimes a license can fulfill alternative certification requirements…
  • But a certification doesn’t mean you’re licensed…
  • Certifications are necessary for some jobs but not mandatory, like licenses are… 

Sounds confusing, right? Don’t worry, we’ll break down the differences between certificates, certifications, and licenses and answer common questions about each.

Comparing certificates, certifications, and licenses


What is a certificate?

A certificate is awarded after completing a course or program focused on a specific subject or skill. 

Who awards certificates?

Certificates are awarded by educational institutions, companies, and organizations.

Are continuing education credits required to maintain a certificate?

No, continuing education credits aren’t required to maintain a certificate after it’s awarded. However, certificates often count towards continuing education credits.

Does having a certificate mean you’re certified?

No, certificates do not mean you’re certified, but they can help prepare for certification exams.


What is a certification?

A certification signifies that an individual has passed an exam confirming they have met established industry standards of competence and expertise in a specific field or skill.

Who issues certifications?

Certifications are awarded by professional associations, companies, organizations, or certification bodies.

Are continuing education credits required to maintain a certification?

Yes, awarding organizations usually require continuing education credits to help expand expertise, stay relevant and up-to-date, and ensure professional standards are maintained.

Does a certification mean you’re certified?

Yes, passing a certification exam means that you’re certified in that specific area. However, maintaining certification status depends on meeting ongoing education requirements.

Does a certification mean you’re licensed?

No. While some professional certifications may be required by employers in certain fields, they do not grant the legal authority to practice a regulated profession like a license does.

Does earning a degree mean you’re certified?

No, earning a degree doesn’t certify you.

Are certification exams taken online?
Yes, online certification exams are common because they open the exams up to a larger audience and provide convenience for test takers. Many organizations remotely proctor certification exams to prevent cheating and support test takers throughout the process.

Do you receive a certificate after earning a certification?

After earning a certification, individuals typically receive a digital or physical document. However, this document is different from a certificate received after completing a certificate program.


What is a license (licensure)?

Licenses provide individuals with the legal authority to work in regulated professions after training and passing a licensing exam. 

Licensure can also include additional requirements, depending on the type of license and state, such as:

  • Attaining a degree
  • Earning professional certifications and/or certificates
  • Completing apprenticeship programs
  • Work experience

Who issues licenses?

Licenses are issued by government state licensing and certification agencies.

Does a license mean you’re certified?

No, a license does not necessarily mean you’re certified.

Are online licensing exams available?

Yes, high-stakes licensing exams can be taken online when remote proctoring is used to protect exam content and academic integrity.

Do licensing requirements vary based on the state?

Yes, licensing requirements can vary from state to state due to different laws, regulations, and standards set by each state’s regulatory bodies or licensing boards. 

For example, lawyers and teachers may need to meet different criteria or complete different processes to be licensed in different states.

However, some licenses can automatically transfer to other states, or the licensing requirements may be adjusted if the individual already holds a license, through reciprocity agreements or endorsement processes between states.

While there are distinct differences between certificates, certifications, and licenses, they all serve unique roles in professional education, reflecting the knowledge and skills required to help ensure competence and quality in various fields.

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Prewritten AI Policy Statement

AI tools can help improve teaching and learning, but instructors have concerns about how they’re used. Use our prewritten AI Policy Statement to set expectations for acceptable use of AI tools in your courses.

What goes into an AI policy statement?

Some AI policy statements resemble extensive legal documents, while others are just a few bullet points. Regardless of format, make it clear and easy to understand for learners in your course.

PART 1: Introduction & purpose

Briefly (and clearly) state your stance on AI & key takeaways

If learners only read this part, what are the must-know takeaways?

PART 2: What are AI tools?

Explicitly define what you consider to be AI tools.

To some, AI only means tools like ChatGPT. To others, it may mean using AI writing tools like Grammarly. So, be clear about the AI you’re referring to.

Group them by type (chatbots, writing assistants, browser extensions, apps, voice assistants, etc.) and name a few examples for each group, but emphasize that just because a tool isn’t named doesn’t mean it’s allowed to be used.

PART 3: Acceptable AI use

Be clear about when and how they can or cannot be used.

This will be short if you want to block AI entirely. But if you want to allow it at certain times, discuss when and how and use a few specific examples.

PART 4: The negative impact of using AI tools

AI puts data privacy, academic integrity, and reputation at risk.
Discuss how taking AI shortcuts devalues their education and the program’s reputation, which ultimately impacts their investment. And discuss other items, like data privacy.

PART 5: AI Policy enforcement

How you’ll enforce this policy, penalties, and revisions.

Example AI policy statement for your courses

Note: The primary example assumes an instructor is only allowing AI use in a few specific instances but blocking it otherwise. You’ll see expandable boxes in some sections that contain alternative language for an instructor that wants to block AI in all cases.

Introduction & purpose

I recognize the importance and benefits of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, which is why my position is to embrace and integrate them into certain course activities, like interactive projects, with full transparency about their use. However, using any AI tools during an exam or quiz is never permitted. The information and guidelines in this policy ensure that AI is effectively and ethically used in this course.

The remainder of this document provides important information to understand as a participant in this course.

Alternative text for blocking Al (click to expand)

I recognize the power and potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools in shaping the educational landscape and even our lives in general. However, I want to make it clear that we will not be integrating or permitting the use of any AI tools in this course. The remainder of this document provides important information to understand as a participant in this course.

What are AI tools?

AI tools mean something different to each person, especially related to education, so I’ve grouped them into categories and named a few tools for each. Please note that countless AI tools exist, and the omission of a specific tool doesn’t mean its use is permitted. If you have questions about a certain tool, do not use it until we’ve discussed it and I indicate that its use is allowed.

Alternative introduction text for blocking AI (click to expand)

AI tools mean something different to each person, especially related to education, so I’ve grouped them into categories and named a few tools for each. Please note that countless AI tools exist, and the omission of a specific tool doesn’t mean its use is permitted.


What they do
Example tools
Generates written responses, answers questions, & checks work
ChatGPT (and GPT-4), Google Bard, Bing AI, Jasper AI
AI writing assistants
Edits, rephrases, & rewrites text to improve writing
Grammarly, QuillBot, Hemingway Editor
Answers questions & completes numerous “homework help” tasks
Course Hero, Photomath, Wolfram Alpha, Socratic
Voice assistants
Takes voice commands to provide answers to questions & operate portions of devices.
Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana

Acceptable use of AI tools

We’ll use AI in this course to enrich your learning experience with interactive activities and as a way for you to gain practical experience with important technologies.

Key takeaways for AI use in this course:

Do not use any AI tools during any exams or quizzes.

Do not use AI tools during any assignments or activities without specific permission and instructions.

Credit and cite any time you use AI.

Except during exams and quizzes, you may use writing assistants to check your written work for grammar and punctuation.

Writing assistants and other AI should not be used to write, paraphrase, or change the style and composition of your writing.

Using AI as a supplement is permitted. Examples include using browser extensions or apps to check your answers to practice questions.

Never enter any personally identifiable information or other relevant information into AI tools

Alternative text for blocking AI (click to expand)

Use of AI tools is not permitted in any aspect of this course, including exams, quizzes, projects, or any activities.


The negatives of using AI tools

Integrating AI into course activities helps create interactive and engaging learning experiences. However, it’s crucial that you adhere to the guidelines about the use of AI tools because it impacts the entire learning experience and your data privacy.

Inappropriate or unauthorized use of AI tools to gain an unfair advantage and any other forms of academic dishonesty not only devalue your education but also jeopardize the integrity and reputation of the entire course and program you and others have invested in. That said, I ask that each of you fully, honestly, and ethically commit to using AI only as instructed.

Data privacy

I trust that you’re careful with personally identifiable information, but it can be mistakenly shared, such as when you’re checking your written work in ChatGPT. Let’s assume the assignment allows you to use ChatGPT, and you copy all of the text from the document and paste it into ChatGPT, including your information at the top of the page:
First & last name
ID number
Date & time
Course name
Instructor name

While not likely, others could receive any or all of that information, which could be enough information to determine who you are, your institution or organization, and your location. So, please do not use any personally identifiable information or other relevant information about yourself or others in any AI tools.

Alternative text for blocking AI (click to expand)

While some courses integrate AI tools, my decision to prohibit them doesn’t mean I won’t leverage technologies for different aspects of this course. These technologies will be used to create an enriched and interactive educational experience that drives creativity and collaboration.

But to give you more context on my decision, I believe that AI tools currently pose challenges related to academic dishonesty and data privacy. Many AI tools quickly answer test questions and even generate in-depth written responses that can be rephrased to go undetected by plagiarism detection tools.

Equally important, it puts your data privacy at risk. For example, did you know that everything you type into ChatGPT is saved and could be given as a response to other users? Imagine if you accidentally provided personally identifiable information and other relevant information if you used it to check your work and you copied and pasted all the text in your document, which included your first and last name, institution or organization, course name, date and time, and instructor. Just that information alone is enough for someone to know who you are and where you may be at a specific time.


AI Policy enforcement

I take academic integrity very seriously, and I will address any violations of this policy and follow [institution’s name] disciplinary policies and procedures. If you have any questions about the information, policies, and guidelines in this statement, I urge you to contact me to discuss them.

This policy goes into effect on the first day of this course, [insert day, month, and year].

I trust that each of you will make ethical decisions about the use of AI tools in this course and I’m looking forward to a rewarding experience for everyone, including myself.

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ChatGPT vs. Honorlock Online Proctoring

Using online proctoring services to stop students from cheating with ChatGPT

Many are nervous about the arrival of ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that can write about anything. ChatGPT can write essays, solve math problems, make original jokes, and even write code. 

But it doesn’t write like a typical AI tool, which is repetitive and awkward. ChatGPT writes just like a human, and it writes well. VERY well. 

In fact, ChatGPT recently passed some pretty tough exams:

Can plagiarism tools catch ChatGPT?

Plagiarism tools can’t really catch ChatGPT. At least not yet. That’s because ChatGPT was trained with about 300 billion words from internet resources, like research, articles, websites, and more. But it doesn’t get its information from the internet.

Sounds confusing, but here’s an analogy for how ChatGPT works:

During your education, you learned from different textbooks, articles, and instructors. But you don’t just regurgitate that information. You understand it, and you can make complex connections to use in different ways. 

That’s basically how ChatGPT works. It doesn’t just copy different pieces of content from the internet. ChatGPT really “comes to life” because it receives feedback and review from experts, which refines its responses to sound more human. All of this is why plagiarism tools won’t catch it anytime soon.

How can Honorlock’s online proctoring software prevent the use of ChatGPT for written assignments?

To show you how it works, we’ll use a realistic scenario where an instructor wants participants in class to complete a 500 word essay by 11:59 p.m. on Friday.

Set the amount of time they have to write the essay once they begin

Instructors can create rules that specify a certain number of hours participants have to complete the written assignment once they begin. Honorlock’s proctoring software and services are available 24/7/365, so they can write their essays anytime they’re ready within your set time frame, and you’ll know it’s being proctored.

Lock the browser

With Honorlock’s BrowserGuard, instructors could do the following:

  1. Prevent access to all other websites, browsers, and applications.
  2. Allow access to specific websites and applications while blocking all others, including ChatGPT.

This is important because you may want to give participants access to certain internet articles or lectures in PowerPoint as a supplement while they’re writing their essay, but you want to make sure that they can’t access ChatGPT or other AI writing tools. With Honorlock, you can do just that.

Honorlock’s BrowserGuard also records the participants’ desktops and prevents keyboard shortcuts, like copying and pasting. If copy/paste is attempted, the participant receives a notification that it isn’t allowed and the AI marks it as a medium flag.

If you’re only using browser lockdown software, how would you know if: 

Use smart voice detection

If your online proctoring platform doesn’t have smart voice detection, a participant could use a voice assistant, like Siri or Alexa, to:

Honorlock’s Smart Voice Detection listens for specific keywords or phrases, like “Hey Siri” or “OK Google,” and it records and transcribes audio while the exam is in progress. If it detects potentially dishonest behavior, a live proctor is alerted to review the situation and intervene if necessary.

Use the webcam to check the room and record behavior

Honorlock’s online proctoring platform makes it quick to check the room for unauthorized resources, like cell phones, notes, and even other people. And our proctoring software monitors and records behavior throughout the exam as well.

This way, you’ll know that test takers aren’t accessing ChatGPT from other devices or asking friends in the room to do it for them while they’re writing their essay. 

Other online proctoring tools from Honorlock
Blends AI with human proctors

Honorlock upholds academic integrity with online exam proctoring that’s monitored by AI and reviewed by humans. Our AI proctoring software monitors exams for potentially dishonest behavior and alerts a live proctor to review (and intervene if necessary) if it detects any issues. Our blended proctoring solution delivers a less intimidating and non-invasive experience for participants.

Detects the use of cell phones and other devices

Honorlock’s online proctoring software can also detect when a test taker attempts to access test bank content using a cell phone or other devices during the proctored assessment activity. 

Finds leaked test content on the internet

Honorlock’s Search and Destroy™ technology scours the internet automatically for leaked test content and gives instructors the ability to send takedown requests with one click. This way, you’ll know your test content isn’t available on sites like Quizlet, Chegg, Reddit, and Quora.

Verifies test takers’ identity

You need to know that the person taking the proctored exam is the same person getting credit in the class. Honorlock’s ID verification takes about 60 seconds. It captures a picture of the test-taker along with their photo ID.

ChatGPT is a powerful AI tool, but there are many other tools and different ways for test takers to gain an unfair advantage. Stay ahead of the curve with Honorlock’s blended proctoring solution.



How to Measure DEI Progress in Higher Ed

DEI training for Higher Ed

Building DEI in higher education can improve your institution’s reputation, and it’s critical to recruiting and retaining students, faculty, and staff. But it’s difficult to measure the impact of DEI initiatives, leading to inaction, focusing on the wrong efforts, or an inability to provide the right resources to those who need them most.

So, how can you measure the success of DEI efforts at your institution?

This article will show you:

Start by gathering the right data

DEI-related data comes from different sources. Some data, like student demographics, likely exist, while other data will need to be gathered.

We’ll summarize common types of data to collect for:

Student Data
Student demographics

Use admissions information to gather student demographic data such as gender, race, ethnicity, and age. And collect data about student disabilities and conditions, which can impact how online education is delivered and identifies differing needs for assistive devices.

Academic performance data

Academic performance data, correlated with demographic data, can shed light on the students or groups that are more or less likely to succeed. This information can help identify opportunities to implement new DEI initiatives that support student success.


You find that 20% of your total student population and 35% of your online students have disabilities that impact their ability to engage, interact, and learn.

After analyzing their performance, you find that online students with disabilities achieve lower grades than those who attend classes on campus.

The lower grade could be due to course curriculum, but it could also be tied to accessibility issues online students encounter that can negatively impact their performance.

DEI & institutional experience data

Without asking for it, most students don’t share the impact of DEI efforts with institutions. Conduct regular student surveys to understand experiences, opinions, ideas, and awareness of DEI initiatives.

Surveys help understand why students choose a particular university or why they decided to leave – both could be related to DEI.

Faculty & staff data
Compensation data

Compensation data should be readily available within HR and accounting systems. Gathering this information can highlight potential gaps or biases and should be part of this initial audit.

However, it’s important not to jump to conclusions based on compensation alone. When evaluating compensation differences, leaders must take into account any outlying factors tied to individual compensation packages.


A compensation analysis shows that some female instructors in the business

department aren’t compensated as well as male instructors with similar years of employment at the institution. Additionally, after digging in further, you find that Black females in particular are compensated less than White females.

Is this gap due to biases, or were other factors taken into consideration when assigning compensation?

Other factors that can impact compensation include performance, the number of classes each instructor teaches, departmental research grants and donations, and fundraising, among other factors.

Understanding this information helps determine whether gaps in compensation are due to potential bias or not. In this scenario, start by looking at individual performance reviews for the department’s female and male instructors with similar years of experience and who teach the same number of classes. Look into the other factors listed above. If all factors are equal except salary, this may point to a bias.


Scenario A: 12% of the female performance review scores were below average, while only 10% of male performance reviews were below average.

In this scenario, the difference between the percentage of females and males who received below-average scores is relatively small. While these scores may not be the sole reason behind the compensation gap, they could be a contributing factor.

Consider the individuals or teams behind the reviews. Are they judging individuals differently based on biased beliefs that cause lower scores for one segment?

Scenario B: 45% of White females received above-average performance reviews, and 37% of Black females received the same.

The percentages in Scenario B is significant, which could indicate potential bias against Black female instructors. Dig into this information to determine what factors may be contributing to the compensation gap. True performance is acceptable, but inherent biases against capability related to race are not.

Demographic data

Most institutions have faculty and staff demographic data available within the systems used for HR purposes.

Understanding demographic information at every level is important because an institution may have a diverse workforce as a whole but still struggle in key areas, like diversity in positions of leadership. An institution may be diverse in terms of race or ethnicity, but there could also be gaps in the number of male and female employees.

Leadership diversity data

It’s important to understand if an institution’s leadership team is truly diverse. Gather data around employee demographics and positions of leadership to identify any gaps that exist in leadership roles.

DEI training data

This information could be tricky to gather, depending on the level of past DEI training. Some institutions use the LMS to test knowledge based on information covered during training, but others may consider watching a video as training.

Regardless of type, gather any available data about DEI training, such as:
Employee experience data

Like with students, conducting surveys regularly with faculty and staff helps understand opinions, expectations, awareness, and understanding of DEI efforts. It uncovers information that might not otherwise be available and gives employees a voice in developing DEI initiatives that meet their needs.

A few ways to segment employees for surveys:
Institutional data

Aside from the data for students, faculty and staff, leaders should also look to gather institutional information that can be used to improve DEI efforts.

Budget & financial impact

Data from operational and institutional efforts can help teams understand the financial impact of DEI initiatives, the gaps that exist, and the allocated budget.

Spending for DEI initiatives

Gather data about the average spend on DEI initiatives each year.

DEI’s impact on recruiting and retention

Example: DEI may improve employee engagement, which can lead to better retention rates. How much does this save in reduced turnover and new employee training? Evaluate and measure every aspect of improvement DEI creates.

Recruitment & retention data

Look at the percentage of diverse candidates and how they progress through different levels in the hiring process.

Next, determine which levels need to improve and which are in good standing. Set realistic goals to maintain and improve these levels, starting with the lower levels.

Employee retention

The examples below are a brief look at data to gather about the retention of diverse employees and leaders. Are there any areas of employee retention that are weaker than others? If yes, dig into why.

Number/percent of diversity:

Find strengths & weaknesses

After gathering the data you need data, look at your strengths and weaknesses.

Set goals

Once a bigger picture of DEI initiatives emerges, the next step is to set goals that outline where the institution should be and the potential impact of achieving this desired state. It’s important to be specific and realistic about goals, milestones, and timelines.

Prioritize steps to maintain & improve

After identifying what’s working and what needs improvement, focus on the areas of opportunity. How can these be addressed in order to meet the DEI goals?

Data example for online students

For this example, assume that the data indicates two things about online students:

  1. 85% feel welcomed and included because of the student orientation

  2. 35% believe that the online course content doesn’t isn’t accessible
What are the next steps?

Overall, the student orientation is in good standing, but real priority is improving the accessibility of online course content. You’ll see in the steps below that efforts for each can benefit the other.

Prioritize the accessibility of course content

1. Make quick accessibility updates while planning longer-term efforts. LMS admins can make changes to global LMS settings that impact the online course experience for a large number of students, such as:

2. Define longer-term efforts

While the quicker changes are being implemented, prepare longer-term efforts, such as:

3. Use student surveys about the orientation to serve a dual purpose

While 85% of students indicated that the orientation process made them feel welcomed and included, there are likely still some ways to improve. Adding questions about accessibility to the surveys can help students see that their well-being and needs are important, right from the beginning of their relationship with the institution.

Surveys serve two purposes:

DEI measurement in action

Measurement goes beyond just analyzing the impact of DEI initiatives. Collecting and analyzing the right data provides valuable insight to help refine and improve initiatives that directly impact reputation, recruitment, retention, resources, and revenue – the 5 Rs.

Ultimately, allowing institutions to deliver an exceptional educational experience for students and an elevated teaching experience for instructors.

Read our recent blog if you’re wondering what to expect from educational technology and online learning in the near future.

2023 Higher Ed Online Learning Trends

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Webinar: Overcoming Biases & Building Inclusion

A group of diverse people sitting in chairs in a circle, having conversation.

Whether we realize it or not, biases exist that can lead to unfair assumptions about others that have tangible negative consequences.

Join the webinar to learn how higher ed institutions and organizations can address and overcome implicit bias to develop inclusion.

This webinar will show you how to:

  • Recognize the types of biases that exist
  • Realize the negative impact biases can have on culture, reputation, and members of the institution
  • Acknowledge biases, create awareness, and take steps to address them
  • Understand the true value and importance of inclusion in DEI efforts


Bethany Adams from Villanova

Bethany Adams

MA, SHRM-SCP, Villanova University

Bethany Adams has more than 15 years of experience in HR and education. She began her career working in training & development and HR in the restaurant & retail industries. She has experience in both small, privately-owned businesses and large, Fortune 500 organizations. Bethany holds a BA in Psychology, MA in Organizational Management, SHRM-SCP certification, and is a Certified Genos International Emotional Intelligence Practitioner.

Bethany teaches at Villanova University in the Graduate Programs in Human Resource Development. She has spoken at a wide variety of HR & education conferences throughout the country and leads corporate trainings on topics including strategic HR, design thinking, DEI, and emotional intelligence. Bethany also hosts an HR podcast called HR Tea.

Kyle Ali, instructor at Villanova and Google employee

Kyle Ali

Education for Social Impact Senior Program Manager, Google Adjunct Professor, Villanova University

Kyle leads initiatives to build a diverse pipeline of future computer science professionals through unique educational programs at Google. In previous roles at Google, Kyle played a significant role shaping team cultures and strategy and led large scale initiatives, including a global effort to redefine organizational values and other projects focused on identifying and engaging diverse talent.

Kyle is also an Adjunct Professor at Villanova University and currently teaches “Diversity in a Global Economy” to graduate students.

Kyle earned undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Missouri, an MBA from Baylor University, and a Professional Certificate in Negotiation from Northwestern University.

2023 Higher Ed Online Learning Trends

Trends to expect in online education in 2023

1. Teaching in metaverse classrooms

Expect to see instructors teaching in metaverse classrooms. Education in the metaverse is gaining attention because it creates a realistic classroom experience for instructors and students.

Students and instructors can enter a classroom in the metaverse, sit at a table, and talk to other students and instructors around them.

What does a classroom look like in the metaverse?

Metaverse classrooms can be designed and customized however the instructor wants. The images below give you an idea of what a metaverse classroom can look like from a general standpoint and from the student and instructor perspective.

General example of a group discussion

In this example, a group of students are sitting at a table in a classroom in metaverse and watching other students present through a video conferencing platform. Students are discussing the topic with others around them and interacting like they would in a classroom.

Student perspective

This example is what a metaverse classroom looks like for a student during a lecture. They’re sitting with other students while watching and listening to the instructor.

Instructor perspective

Teaching in the metaverse is very similar to teaching in a physical classroom. You can stand in front of students, discuss topics, and call on students who raise their hands.

2. Online exams will include more hands-on activities

Did you know that about 90% of students and instructors consider learning job competencies as part of educational success?*

That’s why you can expect to see more instructors, whether teaching in-person or online, use hands-on assessments that require students to complete real job tasks. These assessments are also referred to as authentic assessments and competency-based assessments.

Isn’t it more difficult to conduct hands-on assessments in a remote setting? Nope. If you have the right educational technology in place, you can test your online students with just about any activity you would do in the classroom.

Examples of hands-on assessment activities:

To effectively offer online authentic assessments, you’ll need to use a combination of LMS settings, online proctoring tools, and student accommodations.

Get a 3-part online authentic assessment eBook that shows you how to create different types of hands-on assessment activities, the educational technology you’ll need to use, and how to streamline grading.

3. Protecting test questions from being leaked on the internet

Many instructors find their test questions leaked on sites like Reddit, Quora, Chegg, and Quizlet. 

But there are ways to protect your test content. 

Some are slow and tedious. Others are quick and effective. 

Which option sounds best?

Option 1: Copying and pasting individual test questions into a search engine, reviewing endless results, and then sending individual takedown requests.

Option 2: Manually selecting each test question the software should search for and then sending individual takedown requests.

Option 3: Using online proctoring software that searches for all of your test questions automatically and allows you to send takedown requests with a single click.

Unless you like manual work that takes forever, option 3 is your best bet. 

And with Honorlock’s Search & Destroy technology, you can do just that. 

Here’s how Honorlock’s Search & Destroy works:

1. Searches the internet automatically for all of your test questions

2. Review the results
Reports show you if any questions have been leaked and where.

3. Send takedown requests with one click
If any test questions are leaked, you can send a takedown request with one click.

4. Using blended proctoring instead of single-approach solutions

You’ll likely see more institutions shift away from single-approach proctoring solutions, like browser lockdown software, only using live proctors, or AI by itself.

Here’s how Honorlock’s Search & Destroy works:

Browser lockdown software is cheap, but you get what you pay for because it doesn’t really prevent cheating. Students can simply use cell phones or notes to find answers.

Why waste money on something that doesn’t work? 

Automated (AI) proctoring monitors exams using AI. AI is effective at detecting certain behaviors, but it isn’t perfect; it needs human oversight to navigate complex situations that can occur during online exams.

Live proctoring means that a person is watching many students at once. The human oversight is there, but it’s expensive, distracts students, and causes scheduling nightmares. Additionally, a live proctor may not see students cheating because they’re watching multiple exam sessions.

Blended proctoring combines all of the single-approach solutions into one comprehensive solution

While there are a few companies out there that combine AI with human proctors, they’re not the same. Proctoring companies, like Honorlock, take it a step further with advanced AI proctoring software (detects cell phone use, uses smart voice detection, finds leaked test content, etc.) and live proctors that are trained to support students during times of stress and anxiety. 

5. Developing DEI initiatives for online learning

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) means more than adding a statement to your website. It’s a continual journey that takes genuine effort from everyone at every level of the institution. DEI initiatives are a win-win because, aside from improving the entire teaching and learning experience, it can help improve revenue.

2023 DEI initiatives for online learning

DEI can increase revenue

DEI initiatives help create a cycle of interconnected improvements that ultimately tie back to financial benefits for colleges and universities.

DEI helps improve reputation. Reputation helps increase recruitment of students and employees. Engagement improves retention. All of those drive toward more revenue. More revenue can help access more resources to further improve institutional efforts.

Instructor perspective

6. Following web accessibility compliance standards and best practices

For some students, seemingly small changes are the difference between being able to interact and engage with course content or being left out. That’s why it’s so important for instructors and e-learning faculty to follow web accessibility compliance standards and apply best practices.

Web accessibility tips to get you started:

Follow POUR principles

POUR principles are essential for creating accessible online content that’s easy to navigate.

Web accessibility best practices and tips
Make the content easy to read
Create text alternatives for all multimedia

All multimedia (videos, images, and audio) should have text alternatives, such as captions, subtitles, transcripts, and descriptions.

Structure and organize your content
Provide student accommodations

Students may need specific accommodations, such as: 

Understanding & meeting accessibility compliance standards

There are many accessibility compliance standards, but there are the big three to understand.

Need more motivation to meet these compliance standards? It’s a financial risk because noncompliance could lead to lawsuits. Institutions that receive federal financial aid are required by law to meet web accessibility compliance standards or provide reasonable accommodations. 

To learn more, download our 3-Part eBook: Accessibility in Online Learning, which shows you screenshots and real examples of the elements above along with detailed information about compliance standards.

7. Creating a real welcome orientation for online students

According to a survey*, students are 35 times more likely to have a great overall university experience if their onboarding orientation is excellent. Unfortunately, that same survey showed that just a third of students said they had a great welcome experience.

Tips to improve the welcome orientation experience for online students:
Plan virtual activities before the semester begins, such as:
Create a site page with ALL resources online students need, like:

8. More online high-stakes testing

Some institutions are reluctant to offer high-stakes tests in an online format, but many are beginning to move in that direction.

Now, MBA programs and even law schools are offering online final exams. And standardized tests, like the GRE and GMAT, are offered in an online format.

Much of this trust for online high-stakes testing comes from the ability to create a secure test environment that prevents cheating regardless of the location.

With blended proctoring, institutions and organizations can be confident that their high-stakes exams are safe and that academic integrity is preserved.

9. Increases in social learning elements

Expect to see more social learning elements in online learning in 2023 because they give students the opportunity to truly connect and collaborate, share ideas and perspectives, and learn from others.

Example of cohesive social learning efforts in an online course:
Common technologies to facilitate social learning:
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*Instructure. (2022). State of Student Success & Engagement in Higher Education.

*Salesforce. 2022. Connected Student Report (Third Edition)

Creating online student orientations in higher ed

Best ways to create a student orientation for online courses.

Student orientations, sometimes called student welcoming or onboarding, significantly impact students’ overall university experience. 

According to a recent survey*, when students have a great welcome experience, they’re 35 times more likely to have a positive overall university experience.

Unfortunately, that same survey showed that only a third of students said they had a great orientation, and online learning can make it even more difficult.

The good news? There are realistic ways — which are mostly quick to implement — to improve online student orientations.

8 tips to create the best online student orientation

1. Plan virtual welcome activities to engage students before the semester

Virtual welcome activities should allow students to connect with each other and instructors – and make it fun!

Virtual welcome activity ideas:

2. Simplify processes

Regardless of whether a student has taken online courses or not, make everything simple and easy.

Whether it’s registering for online courses and getting technical support, or even just providing single sign-on, remove any obstacles that may frustrate or deter students.

Keep in mind that the format and design of online courses should also be simplified and easy to navigate. Follow online course design best practices to meet students’ needs.

3. Talk about the importance of DEI

You want students to know why DEI is so important and how it benefits the entire teaching and learning experience. It’s also important to explain what you expect from students and what they can expect from you.

DEI resources

4. Create a site page with any resources for online students

Online students need one location with all of the information and resources they need, such as:

5. Build an ambassador program for online students

Find current online students who can connect with future students and share information about their experiences, perspectives, and tips for success in online learning.

6. Gather student feedback

Use anonymous surveys to better understand students’ questions, expectations, needs, and how to improve the welcome experience.

7. Use emotional intelligence

Many people believe that emotional intelligence is something you either have or don’t have. But there are many ways to improve emotional intelligence in online courses.

Emotional intelligence helps build relationships, trust, and communication, which is exactly what you want in online learning. 

8. Tell them about yourself

Telling students about yourself can help establish credibility and build trust – you may find some common interests!

Keep it simple and don’t overthink it. Talk about your background, hobbies, education, and even a funny story that makes you who you are.

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*Salesforce. 2022. Connected Student Report (Third Edition)

The causes of test anxiety may surprise you

Understanding the causes of student test anxiety and how online proctoring can help reduce it

As online learning continues to grow, so has testing anxiety. Learners have concerns about the technology, the process and the presence of live proctors.

But online proctoring doesn’t need to add to the stress of test-taking. When institutions create the proper environment and prepare test takers for online assessments, they report that having a live proctor can actually reduce anxiety. Further, effective proctor training can build confidence.

To learn more about test anxiety during a proctored online exam, Honorlock conducted a survey. Jordan Adair, VP of Product at Honorlock, recently sat down with Tests and the Rest podcast to share the survey results and discuss how remote proctors can help reduce test anxiety.

What is test anxiety?

Test anxiety is any physical and emotional reaction that negatively impacts a test takers ability to perform well on a test. 

5 key learnings from the test anxiety survey:

1. How do test takers react to proctored online exams?

Regardless of how well-prepared the test taker is, many still feel a sense of anxiety.

In the online proctoring space, this is often increased, as test takers may be unfamiliar with the online proctoring system or the method of proctoring that will be used on a particular exam. The findings indicated that even well-prepared test takers are likely to feel anxious heading into a proctored assessment, with 64% agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement “taking an online test makes me nervous.”

2. Does the environment affect test anxiety?

Test takers experience testing anxiety both in-person and online, so it isn’t just the environment. The increase in online assessments has heightened anxiety due to concerns about the technology, the testing process, and the presence of live test proctors.

3. What causes test anxiety?

It mostly stems from not understanding how online proctoring works and not knowing what to expect.

3 main causes of test anxiety

Technology concerns and how to use the proctoring software

Test takers often worry about their device work with the online proctoring software and other issues, such as internet connection.

Unaware of what behaviors may be flagged

They may not understand what behaviors are acceptable and what may be flagged by the proctoring solution or live proctor.

Unfamiliar with how interactions with a proctor will go

Potentially interacting with a proctor can be nerve-racking, especially if the test taker hasn’t never experienced it before.

4. What can help reduce test anxiety?

When you create a proper test environment and prepare learners beforehand, they report that a live proctor can actually reduce anxiety.

Describe how online proctoring works

A basic understanding of how online proctoring works goes a long way. Give learners a high-level overview of how the online proctoring software works and what they can expect before, during, and after the exam.

Explain what behaviors may trigger flags from the proctoring platform

Test takers need to know what behaviors are appropriate compared to those that can trigger a flag. 

For example, here are the things test takers think might get flagged (none of these actually cause flags in Honorlock):

Offer practice exams

After they understand the basics of how online proctoring works and what behavior is acceptable, let them use it.

Practice exams provide learners with the opportunity to get comfortable with using the online proctoring platform, making sure their technology works, and interacting with a live proctor.

Show them where to find support

Make sure test takers know where to find support if they need it. Ideally, live support will be available 24/7 without having to leave the exam window. 

5. How does remote proctor training help with test anxiety?

How proctors are trained is crucial for helping reduce test anxiety. They need the ability to identify symptoms of test anxiety and stress and how to positively interact with test takers during the proctored tests.

Identifying symptoms of test anxiety and signs of stress

Proctors should be trained to spot physical behaviors and signs of stress. Test anxiety symptoms can include things such as lip licking, excessive throat clearing, propping the head up, and touching or rubbing the face. 

Positive interactions

Once physical signs of stress and anxiety are identified, proctors need to understand how to best interact with a test taker. This includes approaching a them in a helpful manner and then having the correct training and tools to help alleviate any stressful situation while decreasing the risk of confrontation. 

Honorlock’s remote proctoring team received training from a nationally certified counselor to learn how to de-escalate test takers who are stressed or anxious and reduce anxiety so that they can continue taking the exam.

Positive interactions with a proctor can have a lasting impact on reducing test anxiety. In fact, a test anxiety survey found that 100% of test takers who interacted with an Honorlock proctor responded “Yes” to the interview question, “Did the proctor make you less anxious?”

Applying these key learnings can help build confidence and prepare learners to perform their best on exams.

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Biden Student Loan Relief Recap

Biden student loan forgiveness plan information

Quick recap of the Biden student loan forgiveness plan that will:

Biden student loan forgiveness plan takes the next steps toward relief

President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan will forgive $10,000 for borrowers making less than $125,000 per year and extend the student loan payment freeze until the end of the year. Student loan payments will resume in January 2023.

Biden’s plan will also cancel up to $20,000 in debt for Pell Grant recipients that have loans with the Department of Education (DOE)

When and how can borrowers claim this student loan relief?

There’s no set date yet, but in the next few weeks, the DOE will announce more details about how borrowers can claim this relief. Borrowers’ income data will automatically qualify them for the debt relief. 


Who will loan debt relief impact the most?

According to the DOE, about 87% of the debt cancellation will go to borrowers who earn less than $75,000 per year. The remaining 13% will go to those earning between $75,000 and $125,000 per year.


How much student debt could be canceled in the future?

For now, $10,000 ($20,000 for certain individuals) but some politicians have asked for up to $50,000 per borrower.

However, in April 2022, Biden stated that if there is additional student loan forgiveness, it will be less than $50,000.

How much student loan debt is there?

The total student loan debt is around $1.75 trillion owed by 45 million people in America. The total includes federal and private loans.

Federal loans total around $1.62 trillion in debt owed by 43 million borrowers.

Historical student loan debt in the U.S.

Will this loan forgiveness program impact future student enrollment?

For some borrowers, forgiving $10K is a drop in the bucket. For others, it could mean having the ability to complete their education.

A recent study found that 42% of students stopped pursuing their education because of financial constraints. So, this loan relief may be just what some people need to re-enroll and complete their educational journey.

This impact on enrollment remains to be seen but higher education institutions should still plan for a potential boost in enrollments. From reducing costs on campus and streamlining processes to implementing new technologies to improve online learning, preparing ahead of time will be worth it.

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