A guide to safe and secure online examinations
There is no secret that the global eLearning is taking over the traditional pen-paper method of education and exam testing. But, most educators admit that there has been several challenges with the process of testing the knowledge gained by the students.
Maintaining academic integrity during the online examinations is proving to be hard task as students finds ways to cheat on the exams. Like in the traditional learning and exam management where you could hear teachers complain of their students cheating, so is most of the learning institutions that has not secured their online examination processes.
Security during online exam is one of the determinant of exam success that every educator should consider maintain. The good news is that we outlined some of the best ways you can use to ensure a safe and secure online examinations.
Firstly off, here is what online examination entails:
Understanding online examinations
Online examinations are becoming more popular with almost every learning institution deploying means to continuously engage their students irrespective of their regions. But, to assess their distance students, education centers are moving towards issuing online tests and examinations.
So, what are online examinations, their benefits and how are they conducted? Online examinations are test and examinations conducted via the internet. Some define online examinations as the internet dependent tests that are conducted through the web based enabled devices such as laptops, computers and tablets.
Benefits of online examinations
So, how are the online exams done?
Online exams are done through an online examination system-a full automated system that simplifies and facilitates exam activities. With the help of different examination software, the systems provides practical ways to turn the traditional mode of pen-paper examination to paperless exam thus eliminating several manual workloads involved.
The examination software used helps dictate the criteria of creating test papers, managing the examination process, marking, evaluation and ranking of learner’s scores. So But, there’s more to the benefits using online software in managing exams.
What are examination software and how are they beneficial?
Examination software are platforms or tools that are used to conduct or manage tests and exams over the web/internet. There are several examination software that does not only help modernize exams but also provides a significant platform for learning and sharing of knowledge. Since there are many examination software in the market, choosing the right one may prove a challenging task. Wait, how do you even know this the best software?
So, before we discuss some of the benefits of using examination software in managing exams, let’s take a look at how these software works and some of the criteria for choosing examination software.
How software aids in the examination process.
Facilitates the creation of examinations
Testing software provides the educators with options of creating practical and interactive exams for both single choice and multi-choice examination. It also help create processing module-based, objective and subjective exams.
Help conduct the exams
Most of the online examination software are capable of supporting both small and large-scale testing irrespective of the learner’s location. They are just required to have the internet and log in for the examinations.
Besides, exam invigilation is becoming a challenge for both the custodian and modern education. The good news is most software comes with proctoring features to ensure cheat-proof examinations environment. Thus maintaining the integrity of the exams.
They also helps in the evaluation process as educators can have instant reports and feedback for their text results.
Criteria for choosing testing software
When choosing a testing software for your institutions, consider going for software that are:
a) Cheat proof
There will be no meaning in testing if anybody can access the content of the tests before the actual examination time. So, proper examination requires a foolproof protection against malpractices. Therefore, consider those software with high tech anti-cheating features to help regulate testing process and maintain exam integrity.
b.) Flexibility and ease of use
Before you decide to use a specific software, please check if it’s user-friendly. Consider the technical skills needed to maneuver through the platform. The software you choose should replicate some of the traditional examination setups like creating a real life experiences. Also, check if the software can be access by all the stakeholders involve in the exam taking process. In other words, you must consider the technical skills required to operate the software you chooses.
If the software requires some intense level of programming skills to manage the software then you’ll most probably will fails especially when your learners do not possess the skills needed. Therefore, ensure you go for a user-friendly software.
c)Licensing and support costs
There are greater risks of using unlicensed software. Among them is that it can cost you time and money wasting your productivity or efficiency. Therefore, ensure you used a licensed software that would save you from constant cyber-attacks like in the case of unlicensed software.
Also, check on the all the cost that comes with acquiring, maintaining and supporting the software. You need to have efficient and cost effective software.
d)Traceability of the software
There comes times when you’ll want to trace back on your work, or activities by your learners. Besides, having a bi-directional traceability can help you measure the quality of your students work. Plus, you can also track the coverage requirements or test cases. Therefore, consider buying a software that supports end-to-end traceability.
e) Integration with some other learning resources
Testing can never be an isolated activity. For the final delivery, it is accompanied with different learning resources. That said, ensure you go for a software with a capability of integrating other learning tools from different sources for a continuous delivery.
Now that you know the factors you need to consider while purchasing an examination software, what are some of the benefits you stand to gain when you adopt online software in testing and examination processes?
Benefits of using online examination software
Provides hassle-free assessments
The traditional examination setup was full of examination challenges like the manual paper creation, printing, manual exam allocation of rooms and invigilation that required an educator or instructor to be available all through to end of the exam. This was too tiresome. Things have changed and with development of examination software comes a hassle-free assessments of examination processes. Everything goes easy for any institution that uses examination software. As they have features that can help create, and conduct exams.
Another reason why learners prefers online examination software is the fact that it support instant evaluation. Students do no longer have to wait for long period before they could have their results. The complete process of examination is automated. Examination are done, automatically invigilated, marked and graded. A touch of the button is enough for the delivery of the results. Also, the software can instantly scores learners’ according to the marks assigned alongside the test questions.
This is another crucial benefit of online examination software is its accessibility features. The software can be executed anywhere, anytime as long as you have your personal comport or laptop, the software loggings and most importantly when there is internet. Irrespective of their locality, students are able to take exam and see their results with a lot of ease. Also, the software is making the instructors’ works easier. Now, they can create question banks for various units and upload them for future uses and with a simple click, they shall have every document they need.
Imagine all the cost incurred by different institutions when printing examination papers especially those with numerous number of students. Not to mention renting of examination rooms and hiring of invigilators to supervise the examinations. It can be very costly, right? But, as much as there are some initial costs involve in the purchase of the computers and other devices used. Online testing software would help curb some additional cost relating to printing and invigilation or renting of examination halls.
The traditional examination process would communed a lot of time. From setting of exam, typing, printing, to issuing, invigilation, marking and finally grading. Planning for the entire procedure would take days or months. However, online examination software has sure rule out most of these process to save a lot of time.
One of the most important benefits of online software is the security it offers. As a matter of fact, security and confidentiality of exams are the most critical areas of exams that must be addressed for integrity. And with better protective features, examination software are able to curb any rooms for malpractices.
Even though there are some basic ways to promote a cheat-free online exams, some learners have found ways to access, share or cheat during the examination.
So, how does learner cheat during online examination?
Gone are the days when learners would writes answers on their palms or sneak in some writings on to the exam room. With the advancement in the technology and the introduction of the online examination software, students have gone high-tech in terms of stealing or cheating o in exams.
Creative ways students use to cheat in online examinations
a.)Use of advanced electronic devices
The good news about technology is that it gives people equal power of access of the future and every person who knows how to handle specific technology can manipulate them to their own advantages. But that also becomes its major drawback as examination cheating is concerned. How? Most students have gotten their hands on the most high-tech devices that can sometimes make it hard for the software to detect when they are cheating. Some of the technologies used by students for cheating include:
Bluetooth powered ear buds- numerous software companies offers Bluetooth devices that enables high-tech cheating. These ear bids are invisible and can be connected to a recorded MP3 players or videos that are used to relay answers.
There are also Bluetooth pen connected to the mobile signals meaning one can just talk back with their accomplice to relay information.
Invisible smart watches- or the use of “watch hack” some learners would deploy the use of editing software and a printer connected in a watch format to secrete note into the examination rooms. You’ll find them looking at their watches to keep an eye on the time, but instead, they be cheating.
Augmented reality glasses- some students are using smart spy technology like spy cameras hidden on their glasses. Theses cameras captures exam questions, then transmit them to their accomplice elsewhere. The students can then receive the responses through the smart watches. Most of these technologies used are visually transparent and normal that it sometimes make them practically undetected via the software supervision.
The fact that online examinations are conducted remotely, makes it easier for students to couple in an exam. For instance, a student may have another person logged in using a different computer, thus provides them with answers.
There are even some learners using team viewer software to share their screens. This allows their accomplices to provide answers or take exams on behalf on the students. Also, there are some students who would even fake identity just to have a third party help or assistance.
c) Navigation offers
Most students are cunning and some would misuse their access to the internet or any social media platforms to commit fraud. For example, during the test, a student may log into unauthorized sites and paste the questions.
Auto coding tools and software- students taking coding classes are known to use automatic programming to help clear exams. Using auto coding software means the students would have no or very little to write because their work are done by the software.
With the knowledge of some creative ways the students deploy to cheat in exam, there is only one question that is unanswered. How can you ensure a safe and secure online examination?
Techniques to ensure safe and secure online examinations
In maintain the integrity of the exams, consider deploying the following techniques
Adopt remote proctoring
In the traditional examination setups, supervisors or invigilators were needed to be present. However, with online examinations, you can have digital supervision done through online proctoring technology.
So what’s online proctoring?
Online proctoring refers to the tools and activities use in monitoring or supervision of online exams.
Simply put, online proctoring is remote invigilation of exams. Though this remote invigilation happens online or over the internet, it re-creates the typical exam-room nature and experience.
How is online proctoring done?
Online proctoring ensures the authentication of the person taking the exams and help confirm that the right person is taking the exam.
Here the types or process involved in online proctoring:
Image proctoring involves the process where the examination system or software used captures the images of students taking exams after certain intervals. Can be after 30 sec- 1 min depending on the setting of the system. This is key to authorization and identification of the exam candidates sitting for the papers.
Image proctoring can also be done by capturing the screen of the students’ current access. This would help to identify the gadgets the student uses plus all the pages or websites that the exam taker navigates during the exam.
This involves recording the candidates’ video and voice throughout the testing time. for video and voice proctoring, the software uses live streaming to record student taking the exam, different tabs they open during the entire exam period.
Also for identification purposes, the students would use their voices to login in for examination. This means that the students’ voice is their password. Any wrong voice noted would indicate a cheating.
Therefore, while choosing an examination software for a safe and secure online examinations, ensure you take one that support both video and voice recording aspects. You can as well review the entire test, fast-forward or play back in case you suspects any cheating activities.
Use of secured browsers
It can be a challenging task to control exam takers navigation pages especially when unsecured browsers are used. However, with secure browsers your supervision would be much easier. Imagine if students pages and not mannered, it would definitely be an open ground for cheating.
But, what does secure browsing means?
A secure browsing is a technique developed as part of supervision online examination supervision to prevent students from opening tabs or switching pages besides the examination window. The feature ensure that the candidates’ exam window is blocked for any other activities.
In short, a secure browser is a preventive mechanism that the users from opening any additional browsing window rather than one through which they are connected to. Of course, there several shortcut keys that students can use to interchange tabs. However, the feature of a secure browser prevents access to keyboard shortcuts like copy and pastes options. It also denies them the capture and screen sharing thus reduced cheating.
This is a technology that keeps the track of the user’s activities with the help of IP address. Form the users IP address, you can track their exam pages, long in and log out history. With this technology everything the user does is tracked.
So in case of exam cheating or suspicious act, the proctors would then analyze the logs of the candidate and if they observes some signs of cheating, they would then report for counteraction.
Therefore, supposed you want a safer examination then please ensure you audit your candidates logging to record the details of every candidate that appears for the examination.
There are different methods of data encryption that you can deploy to ensure that no unauthorized person gets the content of the examinations. Features like two-factor verification or automated identity validation are some methods you can apply.
Therefore, ensure you encrypt your examination data to prevent any manipulation or access to the question banks. Besides, any access of the questions would destroys the examination integrity.
While administering examinations, you can never ignore the security aspects of the exams. Besides, students have become very creative in devising ways to cheat even when taking online examinations. Most of them have deployed the used of advanced technologies like the use of Bluetooth powered ear buds, invisible watches, and augmented eyes glasses. Some of these devices are undetected to the online proctors hence making it hard to know when the students are cheating.
So to ensure that the integrity of the examination is maintained, it would be best if every learning institution conducting online examination deploys techniques that would help curb the cheating. Some of the techniques you can use includes: online proctoring that entails both video, audio and screen proctoring. You can also ensure that you audit your online examination loggings while using secured browsers to control the pages your students’ visits.