Penn State Pilots Proctored Online Testing System from Kryterion

The Pennsylvania State University's World Campus and Kryterion have gone public with results of a pilot in which students completed proctored exams online using Webassessor Online Secured Testing. The technology is intended to deliver tests without the need for an in-room proctor present.

Previously the World Campus asked students to "find their own proctor" who was then vetted by the Adult Learner Enrollment Services (ALES). This was a time consuming process that made testing inconvenient for students and costly in terms of time for Penn State and the student.

"The print-based proctored exam process could take three [or] four weeks to move paper through the postal service between proctors, ALES, and the instructors," said Rick Shearer, interim director of World Campus Learning Design. "The lengthened process decreased the effectiveness of the assessment as a learning tool as feedback was very slow in reaching the students. With...Webassessor, feedback can be instantaneous, thus providing a better learning experience for the students."

The first phase of the pilot used distance education students in two courses (Horticulture 101 and Physics 101). Over the summer semester, each student took three exams using a Webcam, Webassessor, and Kryterion's online certified proctors, who monitor a live video feed of the test taker in real time.

The software monitors the testing session for aberrant behaviors like cell phone usage or unusual testing patterns, but it authenticates that the student taking the test is the same person registered for the class. This allows distance education programs to test securely and also comply with the authentication requirements recently passed into law in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The program verifies the identity of students with a typing algorithm.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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