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Point Loma Nazarene University Online Proctoring Testimonial

Katie Jacobson

Director of Instructional Technology and Adjunct Faculty

Embracing online proctoring for in-person, online, & blended learning at PLNU

Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) is a Christian liberal arts college located in San Diego, California. It has approximately 2,700 undergraduate students who primarily learn in-person, nearly 500 adult learners, and 1,100 graduate students in online and hybrid programs.

In 2018, Katie Jacobson, Director of Instructional Technology and Adjunct Faculty at PLNU, received a number of requests to look into online proctoring solutions. After a successful pilot with Honorlock, some instructors started proctoring exams online, but others maintained their “tried and true” methods of using pencil and paper tests in the classroom. Instructors either hand-graded the tests or used an ancient Scantron machine in an attempt to speed things up.

When the pandemic hit, PLNU administrators were glad the institution already had a proctoring solution in place that could support the nearly overnight shift to remote testing. They quickly added the pop-in proctoring service, which was simply a per-test cost above their existing contract.

PLNU uses Canvas as their LMS for in-person, hybrid, and online learning. Jacobson quickly discovered how easy it was to integrate Canvas with Honorlock’s online proctoring platform, which helps create a more seamless instructor and student experience.

Even with the new online learning tools, most administrators and instructors assumed they would only need to use online proctoring for the year they had purchased, and then they would go back to paper and pencil tests as the pandemic subsided.

But Jacobson had a hunch. “I was fairly certain that once instructors got their classes and exams set up and became familiar with the ease of access, security, and academic integrity safeguards that the combination of Canvas and Honorlock provide, that there would be no going back to the old ways. They would finally recognize how much better it could be!” 

And her hunch was correct. The majority of instructors kept their tests in Canvas and continued using online proctoring and she was able to make an institution-wide purchase of Honorlock. This purchase gave PLNU access to all of Honorlock’s proctoring features and functions, including on-demand automated proctoring software and live proctor support.

Online proctoring different course formats: in-person, fully online, and blended courses

PLNU instructors use Honorlock’s online proctoring solution for tests in the classroom, fully online courses, and blended courses. Regardless of the format, instructors have full confidence that their tests are secure and protected while still providing students with a fair and equitable experience. 

Online proctoring for in-person testing

It’s often assumed that online proctoring is just for remote exams, but it works just as well for tests taken in-person, and it’s surprisingly simple to set up. 

To do so, PLNU instructors simply build their exams in the LMS like they normally do and then choose the proctoring tools they want to use. After that, students can take the proctored test right there in the classroom.

All of Honorlock’s online proctoring tools are available for in-person tests, like video monitoring and detection of cell phone use, but there are two that are important to highlight: BrowserGuard and ID authentication. Honorlock’s BrowserGuard prevents access to restricted websites and applications and it disables copy and paste keyboard shortcuts and printing. Honorlock also makes it quick and easy to authenticate the students’ identities. While PLNU has relatively smaller class sizes, ID verification is especially important for institutions conducting tests in-person for a large number of students. This way, instructors have confidence that the person taking the test is the person getting credit in the course.

The Honorlock Canvas integration allows tests to be automatically graded, which saves instructors significant amounts of time. “We have the ability to automate the proctoring and instructors don’t need to review video to check for any behaviors flagged by the automated monitoring, which also saves them time.”

Proctoring exams for hybrid and fully online courses

Instructors of fully online or hybrid courses also have Honorlock’s blended proctoring tools at their disposal. 

Instructors of fully online or hybrid courses can use Honorlock’s proctoring tools and Canvas’ settings to fully customize the testing experience for students without sacrificing academic integrity. This also saves instructors time because grading can be automated with Canvas and they’ll have access to in-depth exam reports with timestamped recordings within Canvas.

Putting students first

Point Loma Nazarene University strives to shape critical, thoughtful, and engaged individuals. Along with its vibrant and diverse community of instructors, faculty, and staff, part of what makes PLNU’s reputation for academic excellence so exceptional is its curriculum, which strikes the perfect balance of theory and real-world practice.

PLNU is dedicated to creating learning experiences that foster vigorous and rewarding academic opportunities. One component of this effort is the use of online proctoring, which serves as an extension of PLNU’s commitment to academic rigor and an investment in their people and programs.

Regardless of the test environment, many students need accommodations. These could be alternative ways to complete the test or flexible scheduling. Between the customizable settings and the option to provide proctors with instructions for the entire class or even just one student, Honorlock offers the flexibility needed to accommodate student needs.

Additionally, students can take proctored online exams anytime, day or night, without scheduling, and get live support if they need it. This removes scheduling issues for teachers and students; they don’t need to coordinate times to come to the classroom or find time to take make-up tests.

Online proctoring that passes the test

According to Jacobson, Honorlock has been extremely easy for faculty to understand and use. “I find that our instructors really enjoy trying it out on their own to practice how it can be used,” she said. “I recommend about 30 minutes of instruction to get them started out in the right direction. But we have not needed any extensive training.”

After the initial training, Jacobson then recommends a few as-needed training sessions. For example, the first time an instructor does a fully online exam, they walk through any notifications together and review video of any flagged behaviors. That way, she can help the instructor through their preferred process and answer questions along the way. 

This collaborative training also helps Jacobson define roles and set expectations for faculty. “I really try to impress upon our faculty that it is up to them to make decisions on any flags that the proctoring platform raises – we are here to uphold academic integrity and support the success of our students. The platform is just one tool and is not the only indicator of how we should make decisions on student behavior,” she added.

Reassuring students

Jacobson says that she also spends time reassuring students that online proctoring is secure and protects their personal data, working to help them succeed. “I think it’s really important to break down those myths,” she said. “There is a lot of inaccurate information on the web regarding how proctoring platforms work and I aim to make students feel comfortable with the reality of how proctoring benefits the entire testing process. This goes a long way in elevating student confidence and gaining acceptance.”

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Katie Jacobson, Director of Instructional Technology and Adjunct Faculty at Point Loma Nazarene University

Katie Jacobson came to PLNU in 2008 with instructional design experience from an array of industries including software development, US defense, healthcare, and retail.  As an instructional designer, she has designed and developed a variety of soft skills training programs on topics such as team building, listening, conflict resolution, sexual harassment, customer service, change management, leadership styles, and other organizational development topics. Ms. Jacobson began her career at PLNU by leading a team of instructional designers in the Office of Instructional Technology (OIT). Over the years, she expanded the services that OIT provides to PLNU faculty and students. This broadened scope of services includes faculty development opportunities, administration and support of Canvas (the campus LMS), and support for a variety of other instructional technologies such as Turnitin, Honorlock, Pronto, and Canvas Studio. She believes the best training opportunities also allow participants to get “real work” done while learning! She also oversees the Student Technology Assistance Resource (STAR) program which employs technology-savvy students to assist faculty in the use of technology. In 2015 Ms. Jacobson also began serving as adjunct faculty in the Organizational Management program and Communication Studies department.

  • M.A. Educational Technology
  • California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential
  • B.A. Developmental Psychology