ProctorU monitors online exams through webcam

Hanna Moore

Kent State recently signed a three-year contract with ProctorU that will allow the university to proctor online quizzes and exams via webcam.

“The proctor can see what programs the student has open on their computer, as well as the environment around them,” said Paul Creed III, technology project director for the Office of Continuing and Distance Education. “The proctor verifies the student’s identity with a photo ID and has them complete a verification quiz, similar to one administered when applying for a credit card.”

Monitoring exams

ProctorU is “a live online proctoring program that allows exam takers to complete their assessment at home while still ensuring the integrity of the exam for the institution,” according to the website.

By monitoring online exams through ProctorU, the university aims to eliminate students’ ability to reference other screens or use the help of their peers during a quiz or test.

“(ProctorU’s) software has resiliency built in and is able to recover from momentary drops in Internet connectivity,” Creed said. “If there’s a more significant power failure, ProctorU will attempt to call the student at the phone number they provided to reschedule the exam for a later date or have them troubleshoot by rebooting their computer or router.”

Creed led a pilot program to test another vendor before piloting ProctorU in late 2012 after he recognized the necessity of an online proctoring company.

“Proctored testing was something that we identified as a need soon after I arrived at Kent State, and I have been here almost six years,”said Deborah Huntsman, associate vice president of Continuing and Distance Education. “The regional campuses, as well as the Kent campus, were having difficulty finding enough available space and staffing for the one-on-one proctoring. The demand was growing as our online enrollment was growing, so we decided to look into some of the companies that provide this kind of service.

More students take online courses

Kent State had record enrollment in distance learning and online programs this fall, with a total of 15,251 students, or more than 40 percent of all students taking at least one online class, according to Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness (RPIE) data.  

A total of 685 online classes are available to students at all campuses this fall semester, according to RPIE.

“It’s just a new tool,” Huntsman said. “It’s something that allows us to support the large number of faculty and students who are requesting the service and it gives us yet another tool to authenticate that the person enrolled in the course is the person taking the test.”

ProctorU sparks controversy

Huntsman said ProctorU was the third online proctoring service tested by the university.

“We saw an amazing response by the faculty and students to ProctorU,” Huntsman said. “They really liked it and their customer service was really good. (Creed) found that from his perspective, dealing with them as a vendor, that they were very responsible and very conscientious about student needs.”

  • There is a 40% increase in students taking at least one online class.
  • A total of 685 online classes are offered on all Kent campuses in the Fall 2014 semester.

However, some students do not like ProctorU services having access to their webcam. Sophomore nursing major Sarah Wolf was enrolled in online modeling algebra during the 2014 spring semester.

“It didn’t always work on my computer, so that was a big hassle,” Wolf said of ProctorU. “I prefer having the paper in front of me, and it was kind of uncomfortable having someone watch you through your webcam.”

ProctorU’s services are free to students unless they do not schedule their exams far enough in advance, resulting in a nominal fee, Huntsman said.

Contact Hanna Moore at [email protected].