The aim of the University of Amsterdam’s ‘Remote proctoring’ project was to find out whether education would be more flexible if digital assessments were invigilated remotely. A number of experiments later, and many useful experiences richer, we can say that this is certainly possible. In this blog I report on our experiences.
Last academic year, here at UvA we conducted 12 experiments involving remote invigilation (online proctoring) in conjunction with lecturers. In total, 317 students took part, at UvA, from home or abroad. We wanted to investigate the potential for online proctoring using different scenarios. Ultimately, there were 4 such scenarios: remote resits involving small groups of students, remote assessment when students can’t physically attend an exam (e.g. international students), assessment in a lecture room using Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and a digital assessment with Internet access (open book test).
The students completed a short questionnaire and those who were assessed at UvA shared their experiences with the lecturer. We then talked to the lecturers.
Generally speaking, people were happy. Our conclusion is that online proctoring is a useful solution if you can’t use a digital assessment room. In the future, however, we must communicate better with students and lecturers, so that they have a better understanding of what is expected of them.
In one of our experiments a student couldn’t arrive on time due to mid-day prayers. Thanks to online proctoring this was not an issue. He came into the lecture room, started up his computer, switched on the online proctoring and got started.
In another experiment, international students were able to sit 6 different admission tests in their own time, in different time zones, from home. As a result, more students were able to start on the Master’s programme.
With online proctoring, lecturers are not tied to a particular test location. They don’t suffer the restrictions of a digital assessment room and they have more scope to plan the digital assessment with the timetablers. Students like not having to transfer to a different location and being able to sit their assessment in a familiar environment, e.g. at home. They are even more positive about using online proctoring for (admission) assessments if they are abroad on a work placement or for elite sports training.
|Hoe heb je het doen van een toets op afstand ervaren?
Studenten in het buitenland
|How would you rate the remote assessment process?
Resit at home
Integration of digital learning
Lecturers are increasingly using software in their teaching. Students learn to programme in Matlab on their own laptops, for example. Through the use of online proctoring, lecturers can assess students’ knowledge of the program in an ordinary lecture room with students working on their own laptops. That way, assessment becomes a more integral part of the teaching process and a less stressful experience.
Online proctoring is only relevant if lecturers assess their students digitally. This is a major step because, generally speaking, lecturers don’t have a great deal of time to invest in developing a digital assessment. And planning, organising and testing an assessment in a digital assessment room also requires a great deal of effort and energy. Here at UvA we estimate that it takes 10 weeks to prepare a digital assessment.
That’s why, to my mind, online proctoring is a good idea. Lack of space and local computer security are not an issue. It’s also user friendly and secure and it has a great deal of potential for making education more flexible.
“If communication is improved, and technical problems don’t prevent the assessment from taking place from the outset, then yes. Especially with such early exams.”
“It’s the perfect solution if you can’t be there to sit the assessment.”
“Sitting an assessment at home is really relaxed.”
“Sometimes you feel a bit more motivated at home.”
Innovation scheme: Digital assessment for customised education
This project is one of the 9 projects in SURFnet’s innovation scheme Digital assessment for customised education. Under this scheme, between 1 July 2015 and 1 July 2016, higher education institutions experimented with the use of digital assessment for the creation of customised education, with a view to improving the quality of the teaching and devising learning processes that better match lecturers’ and students’ requirements.
Halfway through the scheme, the project leaders wrote a blog about the progress of their project. In this latest blog they describe the results and the lessons learned from their experiments. Read the first blog on this project.
About the author
In addition to her work as programme coordinator of three Master’s programmes at the UvA Informatics Institute, Guusje Smit is project manager of the SURFnet ‘Remote invigilation’ project. She works in close collaboration with her faculty’s ICT programme coordinator to organise and support the development of aspects such as digital assessment within the faculty.