Online Proctoring: An Insider’s View

If [LockDown Browser] is used in proctored environments, the proctor doesn’t have to worry about the student cheating on the computer they’re using. Is that it?
Right. The proctor mainly has to ensure that students aren’t accessing a second device, or looking at another student’s screen, using a cheat sheet, things like that…

And for exams delivered in non-proctored environments, we offer Respondus Monitor. Respondus Monitor uses the LockDown Browser technology as a starting point, but additionally has students record themselves with a webcam during the exam. The recordings are then available to the instructor, along with the automated flagging of events and other data.

So Respondus Monitor is entirely automated?
Right. It integrates seamlessly with the LMS’s assessment engine. If the exam settings require students to use Respondus Monitor, it guides them through the process of using the webcam. And for the instructors, once the exam session is complete, everything is available to them from within the LMS —  the videos, the flagging, information about the exam session, all of that.

This differs from other online proctoring services where an employee is watching the student with a webcam during the exam. Right?
Yes, that’s a different business model. The live proctoring services use humans to do the work, whereas we automate everything with technology. It’s like travel agents versus Expedia. They each have their place.

Are there situations where live proctoring is more appropriate than an automated proctoring system, and vice versa?
Sure. If you have a high-stake certification exam and a student pulls out a camera to steal the exam questions, you’dThe majority of exams in higher ed don't require the immediacy of live proctoring. want the ability to shut that exam down immediately. In that scenario a live proctoring solution would be the better choice because it can be extremely costly to replace questions for a high stake certification exam.

Our solution, Respondus Monitor, is fully automated and is intended for the university environment. The majority of exams in higher ed don’t require the immediacy of live proctoring. If a student leaves the computer in the middle of the exam, an instructor is usually fine with learning about that after the exam is complete.

I assume there’s a price difference between live proctoring and automated proctoring.
Yes. Live proctoring generally runs $20-35 per exam. It doesn’t scale from a cost standpoint, which is why you don’t see wide adoption of this model across a campus. It’s usually a handful of instructors or courses at an institution that use it.

How is your automated proctoring system priced?
We have transparent pricing, so it’s actually listed on our website [www.respondus.com]. Respondus Monitor is roughly $4 per user for the first 1000 seats, then $2 per seat thereafter. A seat is defined as one student per course. There are no per exam fees, which means that the cost is the same if the instructor uses it three times during the course or 15 times… The average instructor uses Respondus Monitor about 6.5 times per course, so if you calculate it on a per exam basis, it works out to about 30 cents an exam.

That’s more of a price difference than I would have guessed. So 30 cents [per exam] for a fully automated proctoring solution versus $25 for live proctoring?
Yeah, it’s kind of crazy when you do the math. Automated proctoring can be 50 times less expensive than live proctoring. And as I mentioned earlier, any good proctoring system reduces attempted cheating to about the 3 to 5% range. So the institution needs to decide what it’s willing to pay to reduce that rate to, say, 2% or 1%. For some situations, it may be worth 50 times the cost. But for the large majority of higher education exams, it’s generally not worth the cost.

Does it bother you that even 3 to 5% of students might be cheating their way through college?
I don’t think that’s a proper way to look at it. First of all, there are many disciplines where one or more high-stake exams are required before you get the certification. Nursing, accounting, law, and so on. Entrance exams for graduate studies also prevent students from progressing if they don’t know their stuff.  High-stake exams are generally conducted in-person, or at a commercial testing center. It’s very unlikely that a student can cheat in those settings…

There are two reasons that Respondus Monitor is such a strong deterrent to cheating. First, a student knows they might get kicked out of the university if they are caught cheating. It’s a pretty stiff penalty.  Secondly, students know they can get caught long after the exam was actually administered. If a student is suspected of cheating on the third exam of a course, the instructor can go back to the first two exams to see if similar behavior occurred. And if the institution gets involved, they can examine testing sessions from other courses, even those that a student took a year earlier… It’s similar to how athletes can get caught using performance enhancing drugs many years after the fact.

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