The experience of the TestReach team is that the Covid-19 crisis has caused a large surge of interest in running examinations with remote proctoring, also known as online invigilation (the terminology varies depending on location, with the term ‘proctoring’ being more common in the US, and ‘invigilation’ in Europe). Many of our clients who were previously running examinations on TestReach in test centres are switching to our remote proctoring delivery, to be able continue their accredited qualification programmes, despite the lockdown restrictions.
However, even before the Covid-19 crisis caused a huge re-think in how we run assessment, and a large switch to online examinations, there were a lot of other reasons for using online proctoring. It is worth remembering in the rush to move online, that there are many other benefits for candidates and organisations to use this type of examination delivery. But as Daniel Kahneman has pointed out in his theories on loss aversion, we are more likely to make a decision to change when we are avoiding a loss, than when we are merely achieving a benefit. But it is worth considering the wide ranging benefits of moving to online proctoring, because these benefits will continue to be felt into the future for organisations making this switch today.
For a bit of background for those who don’t know, remote proctoring is when an exam can be taken by a candidate at home, while being invigilated online by a remote supervisor. It effectively recreates the exam hall experience online. This can be done in different ways. At TestReach we offer live, online proctoring – if you sit an exam on TestReach, you will be supervised by a trained TestReach invigilator who monitors you using audio, video and remote screenshare technologies. There are other types of online proctoring, and you can read more about the ‘record and review’ model here, which is less secure for protecting exam content. Essentially if you have a high-stakes exam, you need a human being monitoring an exam in real-time, to be sure that the exam is completely secure.
We thought it would be interesting to look at some of the reasons that our clients moved to remote proctoring delivery before the Covid-19 crisis, as it highlights many of the other benefits that should be kept in mind when considering this type of technology. It is interesting to note that many of the benefits they draw attention to are primarily advantageous for candidates, rather than benefits for the awarding organisation themselves.
Privacy and convenience when you sit an exam
The Institute of Directors in London were keen to provide a level of privacy and flexibility for the director membership. Up until switching to online proctoring, company directors were expected to attend a test centre on a given day and time, and write a 3 hour exam with pencil and paper. It was just not cutting-edge, convenient or user-friendly. With online proctoring, their members can sit an exam from their home or office, in privacy, and work on their laptop/desktop in a way that they are used to, while still maintaining complete exam security. The organisation can now also offer more flexible dates throughout the year that suit the needs of their candidate base.
Reaching members in distant locations
The International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs (IGP&I) moved to online proctoring delivery because they were providing examinations to club members and external agencies who are often located in coastal ports around the world, not in major cities. Travelling to a test centre was inconvenient and costly. By moving to online proctoring, candidates no longer had to take substantial time off work to travel long distances. This also enabled the organisation to scale their qualifications internationally while maintaining the robustness of the qualification.
Running both training and accredited assessment online
Many training organisations use online proctoring because they want to make the entire training and examination process fully online, from beginning to end. It doesn’t really make sense to run an online training course but then expect candidates to travel to a test centre to sit the final examination. That is like shopping for watch online, but then having to drive to a depot to collect it. The UAV Academy run online examinations for their online drone training course, which are accredited by the Civil Aviation Authority, and their students really welcome this. It means they have time to study the material at their own pace, and book their exam when they feel ready to do it, rather than because it is a pre-scheduled “exam day”.
Accessibility to a qualification
Some organisations have made the move to online proctoring because it increases the accessibility to a key qualifications for a group of individuals. This is true for The Compliance and Skills Academy, who provide health and safety construction courses and examinations for individuals who require a Labourer’s green card to work on UK construction sites. By offering examinations with online proctoring, COSAC have enabled many more site workers to gain the qualification who would have found it difficult to take part otherwise.
A less stressful exam experience
The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy is a professional association for members of the counselling professions in the UK. They switched to online proctoring for many administrative benefits but also because they welcomed the idea of providing a less stressful exam experience for their candidates. Certainly the feedback they received reinforced this view, for example, one candidate said: “Taking exams is always quite stressful and I feel that being able to do the test in the comfort of one's own surroundings goes towards reducing the stress and anxiety around this.” For an organisation that is focused on mental well-being, this is a very welcome benefit.
Candidate benefits and awarding organisation benefits
It seems from the five examples given above that some key benefits mentioned by different awarding organisations are very candidate focused. That might suggest that innovative organisations are focused on benefits for their membership or learners. There are of course a range of benefits for the awarding organisation themselves in using remote proctoring. The key ones include a large reduction in exam administration e.g. less management of test centre networks, organising trustworthy invigilators in distant locations, couriering around exam papers etc. Overall there are many environmental benefits e.g. less paper, printing, and travel overall. Also organisations switching to online proctoring enjoy the increased security of the invigilation process itself, the ability to scale over any geographical area and the flexibility to run examinations more frequently and closer to the period of tuition.
If you’d like to read more about the security of online proctoring versus the traditional test centre, visit this blog post here.
You can read more about the benefits of online proctoring and see a short video presentation here.