“We made the change because we believe that the academic integrity issue is likely to become a big issue across all elements of higher education,” Chief Executive Burck Smith said.
The Massachusetts company Software Secure offers a similar product, called Remote Proctor. It uses a computer’s own webcam to watch for possible cheating, recording the video and audio from the test session for later review.
“When students who are failed for cheating come in, they are generally silenced when shown that they used Google to find answers (screen shots), talked to others about the test while they were taking it (full audio), or pulled out notes (full video) during the test,” said Suzanne Cummins, a senior lecturer at the University of Arizona.
Still, discerning cheating is no easy task.
At Kryterion, proctors usually watch six to eight test-takers at a time on a split screen, looking at “body language and eye movement or anything that might be aberrant behavior,” said Rebekah Lovaas, a Kryterion operations analyst who worked as a proctor for three years.
Something possibly suspicious occurs in about 16 percent of the online tests that Kryterion monitors, according to the company.
In most cases, students can’t break the habit of answering a cell phone call, and the sound of another person usually turns out to be a family member with no intention to cheat, Lovaas said. One time, however, she noticed a test-taker had taped what appeared to be notes above the computer monitor; that exam was halted through a computerized process and the incident reported to the school.
Proctors do not personally speak to or interact with students and do not learn the outcome of their monitoring.
Daniel House of Los Angeles, who is working on a bachelor’s degree in health informatics at Western Governors, feels confident that the cameras and other deterrents keep testing secure.
“I haven’t seen any opportunity for people to get around it,” said House, 51, who switched careers in midlife from music industry jobs to running a hospital’s websites.
Other prevention efforts are less high-tech.