The shift to remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges, and a key question in particular is how campus leaders can ensure the integrity of student work during exams.

To answer this question, many colleges and universities are turning to a solution that online degree programs have been using for years: online proctoring.

Although online-only institutions have used online proctoring successfully to prevent students from cheating for many years, the technology represents a culture shock for some students not accustomed to learning online, who have raised concerns about the privacy of online monitoring during exams.

How online proctoring works

Sending students to physical testing centers isn’t practical when they’re spread around the world, and during a pandemic it might not be not safe or responsible. Online proctoring from companies such as ProctorU, Respondus, and other providers uses live proctors, artificial intelligence, or a combination of the two to discourage students from cheating during online exams — and to catch them if they do happen to cheat.

Related content: Best practices in online proctoring

ProctorU, for instance, offers three proctoring solutions for exams with different stakes. The most secure option uses live proctors to verify the identity of test takers, scan their physical environment to make sure there are no cheating aids, and monitor students throughout the exam to make sure they’re not cheating. For low-stakes exams, the technology can flag potentially suspicious behavior for an administrator to review later. In both cases, the testing sessions are recorded using a student’s own webcam and microphone.

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About the Author:

The former editor of eSchool News and eCampus News, Dennis Pierce is now a freelance writer. He has spent the last 20 years as an education journalist covering issues such as national policy, school reform, and educational technology. Dennis has taught high school English, math, and SAT prep. He graduated cum laude from Yale University. He welcomes comments at