Curtis Raines, Chief Revenue Officer, Mike Murphy, CEO & Co-founder, Suzanne Flynn Speece, Chief Operating Officer
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when much of the country was in some form of lockdown and “business as usual” had ground to a halt, Mike Murphy’s phone rang.
On the other end of the line, he found someone with a problem; a department at a school of public health in Texas needed a better solution for delivering exams online. But the stakes were high, and there was a lot of red tape.
“These were future public health professionals being tested on their knowledge and ability to provide care, so, of course, it’s critical to ensure the person taking the test is who they say they are,” says Murphy. “But it was so much more than just that. The client needed to protect the integrity of its exam and ensure the content couldn’t be copied and distributed. And then, because the client was a program within a school within a university, there was a lengthy procurement process, and technical hurdles to navigate as well.”
Murphy, the president and CEO of ProctorFree, jumped at the opportunity to help, because he was uniquely positioned to deliver a solution.
The LMS Add-On That Makes Testing Better
ProctorFree is not an LMS company, but it operates in parallel to many markets that depend on an LMS and the need to assess the knowledge of learners, including specialized schools, two and four year education programs, professional associations, continuing education, certification programs, licensing bodies, and government organizations.
ProctorFree is an industry-leading online proctoring platform that enables continuous test taker identity verification, and provides a reliable means of monitoring the testing environment to ensure integrity and that all exam rules, procedures, and protocols are properly followed.
“COVID-19 triggered a paradigm shift in the way people expect to operate in the world, and that includes taking tests,” Murphy says. “If there were any silver lining in the wrath of a global pandemic, it was that people became more empowered to do digitally what was traditionally done face-to-face.”
No longer do students have to stress about waking up early to commute to school to take a test. Professionals going in to take certification exams get to take less time out of their day to be in a testing center. No one is worried about finding parking and making their way around unfamiliar places. Businesses that were only only able to serve local markets, and companies that were only only willing to employ local talent, suddenly could cast substantially wider nets. People could do things from home, on their own devices, on their own terms.
But whatever in the world did change, the necessity to deliver knowledge and the ability to reliably measure outcomes did not. This puts ProctorFree in a position to aptly serve an ever increasing need for the online delivery of training and education, testing, and the measurement of learning outcomes.
These were future public health professionals being tested on their knowledge and ability to provide care, so, of course, it’s critical to ensure the person taking the test is who they say they are
Test Like No One’s Watching
When exams are given online and test takers are literally left to their own devices, it’s important to have tools in place to deter cheating, verify test-taker identity, and mitigate the risk of exam content from being copied and distributed.
Most of the major LMS platforms include the capability to offer online or remote exam delivery, but these platforms, and the wide ranging client base using them, can benefit from leveraging tools that help offer major security components that can deter cheating and prevent unauthorized distribution of exam content. ProctorFree is fully integratable with all the major learning management systems and provides both automated and human-assisted online exam proctoring that helps close the security gap.
ProctorFree’s secure browser technology significantly deters cheating by spinning up a full-screen, locked-down browser window that gives students what they need to take the test while preventing copy/paste, screenshots, navigating to other websites or tabs, and more. In addition to ensuring exam integrity, a locked-down browser creates a focused, distraction-free environment for test-takers. Ensuring exam integrity via a secure browser also signals that other test-takers are also operating within a level and equitable playing field.
How ProctorFree Works
ProctorFree has several proctoring modalities available to its clients to meet their exam needs. The technology works by verifying the test taker’s identity throughout the exam. As the exam is underway, the online proctoring application is running and processing three primary streams of data: webcam footage, screen recording, and audio.
These data streams are securely transmitted to the cloud for processing and analysis. An audit report is generated with suggestions or “flags” of where an exam administrator is guided to take a closer look for questionable or abnormal activity by the test taker, such as leaving the view of the web camera, using materials off camera, talking on the phone or speaking to someone else in the room, or navigating to unauthorized resources on the computer.
COVID-19 triggered a paradigm shift in the way people expect to operate in the world, and that includes taking tests
Online proctoring with ProctorFree is fully automated to save time for test takers and administrators alike. The technology fueling ProctorFree enables learners to take exams on their own schedule. For quizzes and low-stakes exams, fully automated online proctoring is becoming widely adopted on a global scale.
When the stakes are higher, ProctorFree’s best-in-class automated proctoring solution can be enhanced with extra help from U.S.-based auditors that are trained to assess the data stream and provide an added layer of scrutiny and security. ProctorFree delivers a report of “flags” to the exam administrator for further evaluation. It’s up to the institution to make a determination with regard to academic integrity or dishonesty.
Making Education More Accessible
Online learning and testing presents a major opportunity for institutions to bring their content to people who might otherwise not be able to access it. When learners are not limited by geography or physical space, it not only opens up the opportunity for education, it also creates extended reach for the institution.
‘Brand building and community growth happen when you are doing something good— when more and more people want to hear what you have to say or what your organization has to offer,” Murphy says. “And a ton of people might really want to get access to your expertise that was historically (or primarily) available inperson, whatever that is— knowledge, certification, accreditation, verification, licensing—but not everyone is in a major city with a captive target market. When your program is online, that barrier is largely removed.”
As Murphy looks to the future, he sees a world where flexibility and adaptive experiences for consumers and learners are dominant. While there will never be a replacement for the amazing humans involved in training and education, the market and consumers are speaking with their behavior.
We must also look to the truly digital native population that is aging through primary education and will be eventually entering the workforce. This is going to require organizations to consider dual-mode or hybrid delivery, but also measure that against the need to still require rigor when it comes to accessibility, safe handling of test-taker data, and privacy. These factors, and many others, need to be treated with the highest levels of integrity. He sees ProctorFree as the path to making education more convenient, efficient, and within reach for all.