Online Proctoring: Better Than a Testing Center or In-House Setup
Certifications are important tools for assessing an IT professional's qualifications. They provide a recognized third-party guarantee that potential employees are competent and possess the skills to perform their jobs.
Presently, there are almost 1,800 different certifications with accompanying exams. As the need for certified individuals continues to increase, test providers are looking for the most effective and efficient means of administering exams. The choice has long been between creating an in-house examination unit and outsourcing to a brick-and-mortar testing center.
In-house testing is a costly option for test providers, as they need to hire, train and manage a staff that may or may not be fully utilized. In addition, there are the added costs of overhead, equipment and technical support.
Outsourcing to a brick-and-mortar testing center has for a long time been the more common method. Many still believe that this offers the best protection against exam fraud. Recent high-profile instances of cheating, however, both abroad and in the United States, have raised serious concerns about the integrity of testing center administered exams.
Methods of cheating have included hiring stand-ins for examinees, proctors helping test-takers complete exams, and even the use of Bluetooth technology and wearable devices.
Many companies are increasingly abandoning the idea of establishing their own in-house facilities or outsourcing to testing centers. The newest method of conducting certification exams is online proctoring via technologies designed to enhance exam security. Thus far, the evidence shows that online proctoring is affordable, secure and offers an effective environment in which to conduct the exam.
Challenges of Testing Centers
Traditional testing centers are notorious for having "hidden" obstacles that test-takers must navigate. For example, individual centers often set their own schedules for exams, and the availability of exams can differ greatly among locations. Even knowing the time and location of your exam at a particular center isn't always enough to ensure a hassle free experience. Test-takers are often confronted with irritating quirks like a lack of obvious signage and convenient parking.
Candidates for certification also often face a gauntlet of security measures ranging from multiple forms of identification (including fingerprint scans), as well as the ever-enjoyable emptying of the pockets prior to passing through a metal detector. To make matters worse, after all the security hassles, some centers deny entry if a test taker is five minutes late, and then enforce a strict "no refund" policy.
Rescheduling exams can also be a headache as candidates typically need to speak to multiple people and pay additional fees to get a new date.
Advantages of Online Proctoring
IT is a rapidly evolving industry, and keeping certifications up-to-date is a neverending challenge. Online proctoring companies are able to integrate their services with certification exams to create more secure and flexible solutions.
The popularity of online proctoring is rapidly increasing. At present, almost 2,000 colleges and universities are utilizing it. Online proctoring offers five unique advantages over traditional brick-and-mortar testing centers.
User Friendly — Examinees set up an online profile that, in most cases, takes less than five minutes. Scheduling exams is as easy as clicking a date in a calendar and selecting a time that fits your schedule. Users can take their exams at home or in their office. Instead of going through metal detectors at a testing center, test takers simply log on to their computer and complete a thorough (but quick!) validation process before beginning their exam.
Customizable Rules — Companies are able to set specific parameters for exam environments, including time allowed, what items can be brought into the room, whether or not open internet browsers can be used, and whether test takers are allowed to leave the room or work with a cellphone. Proctors make sure the testing environment is within a company's designated guidelines before a user can start an exam. Proctors also have the ability to continuously scan for irregularities throughout the exam.
Tiered Security Levels — Online proctoring offers flexibility for administrators to choose the security level best suited for a given exam. Whether it's a simple identity confirmation via photo identification and keystroke biometrics, or having the exam live-proctored with a full analysis and audit, tiered security levels enable companies to select the service, or combination of services that are right for their exam.
Live Proctoring — This is the highest level of security and involves online proctors who are trained to identify suspicious behavior. Using a webcam, proctors are able to identify eye movements and behavior patterns that indicate a person may be cheating. They can determine whether test takers attempt to look at cheat sheets placed around the room, conduct internet searches, or open an unauthorized document during the exam.
Convenience and Cost — Unlike a testing center, with its set hours and days, online proctoring is available 24/7. This level of convenience improves the overall customer experience, allowing certification tests to be taken any time and any place. Since there are no established testing sites, there are also no costs associated with maintaining them. Additionally, there are no capacity limitations on seating, so more exams can be scheduled and taken.
The Future is Now
Online proctoring offers certification testing providers a solution designed to meet their integrity and budgetary needs, as well as the strict standards required by the industry. As a result, online proctoring has been experiencing tremendous growth in recent years and will continue to do so in the future.
Assessing someone in their work environment with online proctoring is more authentic, and more accurately measures performance. Remote proctoring helps institutions maintain their reputations and move certification testing into the 21st century.