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The challenges of offering proctoring services during COVID 19

July 22, 2020

The challenges of offering proctoring services during COVID 19

Washington Post online has reported that exam proctoring companies have a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to procure new clients as thousands of American, Canadian and indeed schools, colleges, universities, and professional institutions around the world, look to solve their examination requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


This marketplace has been preparing to provide its services in a virtual, online world for some time with e-learning being the future of learning.  It is projected that by 2025, the global e-learning market will reach $325 billion. With this rapid growth of the e-learning industry, this has created the need for various supporting technologies which include the virtual proctoring space.

However, before understanding this opportunity, we need to look at what is proctoring and what challenges have proctoring service providers faced during COVID-19


What are proctoring services?

Proctoring services involve the use of different technology or human-based proctors which ensure test-takers abide by a strict set of rules. Through technology or a live human proctor, a student is monitored by watching, listening, or talking to them, or in some cases, companies use facial-recognition, eye-tracking, and other software that can detect cheating.

A proctor is an individual who is trained and qualified to invigilate examinations by completing student authentication and prevent them from doing any form of cheating.

There exist two types of proctoring services – in-person or online exam proctoring services.

  • In-person proctored exams require students taking the test to go to an appointed proctored exam centre to complete their exam. For example, Ashton Testing in Vancouver. 
  • Online proctored exams can be administered in a variety of ways.
    • Live Online Proctoring – involves a live proctored test, invigilated by a qualified proctor who monitors candidates through audio-video and screen share feeds in real-time. 
    • Recorded Proctoring – involves no human proctor monitoring the live test. In such instances, the audio-video and screen share feeds of the test students are recorded. At a later time, a qualified reviewer plays back the tests and monitors the test and red-flags any suspicious activity. 
    • Advanced Automated Proctoring – involves the use of audio-video and screen share feeds of the test candidates which are recorded during the test. Also, the technology of the system monitors the feeds for any suspicious activity using advanced video and audio analytics.
Challenges faced by proctoring services during COVID-19

As can be expected, in-person proctored services have faced some obvious challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic these include:

  1. As a result of widespread travel bans, public gathering limitations, and strict social distancing policies being enforced, many proctored exam centres have been forced to close or provide limited services during the pandemic. 
  1. In general, it can be difficult to secure qualified Proctors and ensure their quality due to limited records of performance available.
  1. There have been cases reported that online testing that is provided in a non-proctored environment has had instances of impersonation and cheating. Students either ask some else to take the test on their behalf or cheat by referring to a textbook, using smartphones, or other devices to search for answers online. 
  1. Also, there are growing concerns of online proctoring services and technologies putting student privacy at risk by requesting full access to microphones, screens, computers, and scanning the room to monitor any suspicious behaviors that have increased concerns about privacy in regards to online proctoring.
  1. In-person as well as online proctoring exam services require significant cost and financial investment. 

Online proctoring services require costs in regards to investments into various technologies that ensure the security of data in regards to student privacy, training of proctors in this new way of working and how they invigilate exam students and in processing and storage of test results and data collected during the process.

As we can see, there is a critical and growing need for proctoring services to support education, e-learning, professional qualifications, and many other sectors across industries, states, and countries.  This growing need, however, doesn’t come without its challenges be that in the context of COVID-19 or the growing challenges this sector faces around data security, student privacy and providing the most cost-effective, appropriate administration of proctored services to clients and students either in person or online that best meets their needs.  

If you are a student and would like to book an online proctored exam visit us here at Ashton Testing or if you would like to learn how to partner with Ashton Testing Services contact us here.

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