virtual proctorOnline classes have been around for several years and the offerings keep increasing every day. Just about every college out there has some classes online, and several institutions are following the University of Phoenix model of online or distance learning. One of the big issues (and one of the reasons that the classes I need to take are not online currently) is how to test the students conveniently, securely, and economically. Enter the online test proctor, a camera and microphone which, when combined with specially designed software and a fingerprint reader, will record a test taking session so that instructors can watch the student take their test, even if the student is thousands of miles away.

Snaring cheaters long distance (Houston Chronicle)

Test proctors have a difficult job, as cheaters will go to extremes to keep from having to actually learn the material. The issue is slightly less pressing on the college level, where most of the students actually want to be there. In high school, test proctors have banned water bottles, going to the restroom, and even tying shoelaces, along with the obvious electronics that could aid a test taker. Texas has gone a step further in response to an investigation that came up with suspicious “answer patterns” that “strongly suggest cheating by students or school personnel.”

Cheating Cheaters of the Chance (Washington Post)

Texas steps up reforms to stop TAKS cheaters (Dallas Morning News)

Proctoring is an issue that I deal with regularly, as I work in higher education. We have a testing center that offers proctored tests for our online classes delivered via WebCT, as well as for classes offered to students throughout Texas in the Virtual College of Texas program. However, I can’t help but think that if instructors felt like they could reliably proctor their own tests, they would put more classes online. Who knows, with this new technology, maybe the classes I need to finish my Bachelor’s degree will be offered online, but with my luck, it will start the semester after my graduation.

Does your organization proctor tests or need to have tests proctored? Would you use this technology or does the 360 degree camera, microphone, and fingerprint reader seem to Big Brother-ish for you? Join the discussion.