It has been just two years since Eduventures first covered the remote exam proctoring marketplace in a three-part series that covered the motivating concerns over cheating, novel technologies in research and development, and predictions on how this market would develop in the context of expanding online programs. The market is developing rapidly, with new entrants, acquisitions, and rapid advancement of cutting-edge ID verification technology. In the past year, there has also been quite a bit of media coverage in this space, mostly centered on student privacy and properly notifying test takers of the costs associated with proctored exams.
Eduventures analysis aims to cut through the fears about online proctoring and report on how these solutions are being used. To prepare this analysis, we recently met with eight different vendors to get a fresh view of the market and to understand how the technology is evolving. Our 2013 prediction that proctoring will continue to move towards greater automation was accurate, as five of the eight companies have an almost exclusive focus on fully automated forms of online proctoring.
With such a mix of companies there are clear differences in approach, capabilities, and the ideal program for each. Here are the highlights of our analysis of the online proctoring vendors we met, grouped by the primary type of remote proctoring they support:
- Fully Automated Solutions: The computer monitors students and determines whether they are cheating.
- Record and Review: Sessions are recorded as the computer monitors students. A human can then review the video at any time afterward.
- Fully Live: Students are on video and watched remotely by a live proctor.
Fully Automated – You’re Being Watched by a Computer, Right Now
In June of this year, Pearson VUE acquired ProctorCam to strengthen its existing in-person testing facilities and protect its sizable investment in exam content with a wholly online proctoring solution. ProctorCam now leverages the scale of Pearson VUE’s infrastructure and staff to support clients of any size in almost any country (the product supports most languages). Test takers who are apprehensive about using a remote solution will now have the option of going to Pearson VUE test centers for their exams. From a functionality point of view, ProctorCam’s real differentiator is that it provides its solution as a proctoring platform in a box, which can be integrated into existing exam solutions or an LMS.
The strength of ProctorTrack’s technology worked against it earlier this year.. The product’s implementation at Rutgers bore the brunt of negative media coverage because it has probably the most robust methods of ID verification and cheating detection during a live exam. The product features multifactor authentication at an extreme: facial recognition, ID capture, authentication questions, and, yes, even the infamous knuckle scans. Criticism aside, Verificient strongly believes that using all of these factors is the way to go, as any cheating detection algorithm is only as good as the combination of factors checked. However, in recognizing that not all schools or faculty will want to employ all of these methods, it allows administrators to choose which to use. Even though the Rutgers implementation may not have been the most elegant from the media’s perspective, over 10,000 exams have been proctored there and the solution has not only been renewed, but also been picked up by more programs on campus.
One of the newer players in the fully automated category is Proctorio. Its lower per-student, per-course pricing models are based on the recognition that students and faculty need the ability to take unlimited practice exams and tests. It recommends that institutions collect proctoring fees up front as an annual institutional fee. This is a good best practice, as asking for the fee at the time of the exam highlights the collection and detracts from the test-taking experience. Its technology is built to be as browser and platform agnostic as possible, which is great for taking exams on school-owned or public computers to provide greater access. Faculty can tune the cheating detection algorithms, allowing each course and exam to be scored for suspicion differently. For example, you can throw out instances of a student’s eye moving away from the screen if the faculty member doesn’t feel it is important.
Respondus offers multiple products in the market that can be used as add-ons to other proctoring solutions. Its core product offering, LockDown Browser, is intended for fully proctored settings, while Respondus Monitor is an add-on to LockDown Browser for non-proctored environments. With platform support for Windows, Mac OSX, and iOS, as well as deep integration using LTI and custom modules for all the major LMS platforms, Respondus will pretty much run anywhere and work with your existing campus infrastructure.
With roughly 20 clients, mostly in Texas, ProctorFree is one of the smaller players, but it has a very sophisticated approach to scalability and ease of implementation. Its product was honed in a lab using experiments intended to determine how people cheat. It consistently refines its detection algorithms by auditing 20-30% of recorded videos in which the computer detected cheating. Its timeline view of a recorded exam makes it very easy for faculty to hone in and review the specific times when cheating was identified. Combined with a focus on scalability, accessibility for persons with disabilities, an excellent user experience, and an eye towards cost effectiveness, its solution is well positioned to take over greater market share in the fully automated proctoring market.
Record and Review – You Might Be Watched by a Real Person, Someday
Remote Proctor Now (SoftwareSecure)
One of the most established remote proctoring vendors, SoftwareSecure has over 350 clients using its flagship product, Remote Proctor Now (aka RPNow). As a record and review option, the system maintains recorded videos for 90 days, although some institutions ask to keep videos around longer for compliance reasons. Specialized video review tools allow SoftwareSecure staff to review videos at 20 times the native video speed, allowing for greater scale of review of examinations. RPNow presents a great option for institutions that value the flexibility of allowing students to take exams at any time while still having a real person review the recorded video. SoftwareSecure’s price point is set comfortably, just between the prices of fully live (generally the most expensive) and fully automated (generally the least expensive) solutions.
Fully Live – You’re Being Watched by a Real Person, Right Now
Examity’s platform is unique in that a single technology solution can be used for both the fully live and the record and review proctoring models. It offers different product options based on its own proprietary levels of authentication (FairExam levels) and any other steps that the client would like to add. As examples, rather than fully live proctoring, some clients may want only a random sample of exams to be live-proctored, while others may want to record exams from start to finish and have them reviewed afterward by a proctor in order to ensure that no rules were violated (the Record & Review option). Pricing is stratified by the FairExam authentication level used and fixed per exam. Pricing can also be subsidized through contracts with schools.
In attempting to replicate the in-person proctoring experience online, ProctorU has adopted the philosophy of preventing cheating rather than simply catching it when it happens. Each institution can customize control over the exam environment to decide what to do when an anomaly is detected: either close out the exam entirely and end the session or pause to let the proctor assess what happened and decide to continue. Most institutions want follow-up reports that document anomalies and that are submitted for academic review. This leaves policy decisions up to the institution, and ProctorU prefers this model in order to limit its own liability. Eduventures agrees and would recommend to any institution using an online proctoring solution that the policy decisions around what constitutes cheating and how to respond when it is detected be left to faculty, even when some form of automated tool is used for initial detection.
Eduventures will be covering the remote proctoring space more deeply in the coming months. We are very interested to see which institutions successfully get students to buy in to the more advanced features of automated solutions such as facial recognition. We also strongly believe that there will be future mergers and acquisitions in this space over the next couple of years, as larger testing and assessment companies continue to protect their investments in the exam experience by providing multiple options for proctoring, both in person and online.