Beat The Cheat- Online Proctoring VS Cheating In Online Exams.

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Why The Need For Online Exams?

Online testing has truly transformed how exams are designed, monitored and assessed. Unlike paper-based examinations, online exams are not only reliable but also more convenient. Colleges and universities can administer multiple tests at lower costs without location constraints. However, convenience comes with a hefty price- cheating in online exams.

Are Online Exams An Easy Target For Cheaters?

The answer is a sure shot YES! In a bid to promote online learning and computer-based assessments, unprepared institutions become sitting ducks for exam fraud. Cases of data manipulation, identity theft, cheating during exams, and paper leaks are on the rise and easily available technology has further worsened the problem for the education community.

Below, we discuss the scope of cheating in online exams with real-life examples and how you can prevent it

How Do Students Cheat In Online Exams?

Using Electronic Gadgets

Spy eyeglasses, invisible smartwatches, and micro earpieces might remind you of an undercover agent on a classified espionage mission, however, students are using these high-tech devices to pull off ‘exam heists’ in real life.

With online education in high gear, cheating in online tests has become an elaborate affair. Here’s an incident that left the authorities scratching their heads. 11 students used electronic gadgets like micro earbuds and Bluetooth collar devices to cheat during an online examination for the Staff Selection Commission (SSC). Wonder how they sneaked in the devices? Here’s the fun part, they covered them in carbon paper to avoid being detected during the security check! 

How to prevent online exam cheating with online proctoring

Automate live proctoring is the way forward when it comes to preventing cheating with wearable devices. Proctortrack’s proctoring technology detects and records any suspicious changes in a student’s physical behavior. It not only tracks their eye and head movements but also their audio feed during an ongoing exam. A live proctor can promptly intervene when a candidate is trying to speak (into a Bluetooth device) or look away from the screen (to use a smartwatch), based on violations flagged by the AI. 

Using Virtual Machines Or Screen Sharing Softwares

With adequate technical competence, students these days can easily cheat on online exams. Most online assessments are hosted on open-source systems that are vulnerable to hacking. With a virtual machine and some insider help, anyone can take control of a student’s computer and impersonate them from a remote location. 

Lately, a string of incidents surfaced where online exam papers for technical and non-technical posts were rigged. For instance, the 2019 IAF recruitment exam was hacked by impersonators who took the test from a remote location. As reported by the Indianexpress, supervisors of examination centers were lured into installing the “Team viewer software” on their computers. “Supervisors switched off CCTV cameras while hacking the server. On the day of the examination, the candidates would sit at the center but the impersonator, sitting in their room, would take the tests for them”

How to prevent online exam cheating with online proctoring

Proctortrack offers a firm line of defense by ensuring that the candidate closes all desktop applications before onboarding an exam, also that there are no external hardware devices connected to the PC/Laptop. Once the proctoring begins, the student has no option but to terminate the test before opening any apps

Online Browsing

Since the advent of uninterrupted, high-speed internet, information can be accessed within seconds. So much so that a quick google search can help you find answers to your exam. Web browser features like the “incognito mode” can hide a student’s perusing history to avoid detection or recovery. Without proper supervision, test-takers can browse the net for answers, copy/paste online content or even use social media platforms to circulate test questions. 

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Back in 2016, the north African country of Algeria faced a distressing situation when question papers were leaked on social media. The solution they came up with was a country-wide digital blackout during ongoing tests. As IndiaToday reports, “mobile and fixed internet lines were disconnected across the country for a period of two hours in compliance with the instructions from the government”. This move directly affected over 70,000 diploma students appearing for exams from nearly 2000 exam centers. 

How to prevent online exam cheating with online proctoring

True content protection can be achieved with core operating system proctoring, which is only possible with a secure browser lockdown. Proctortrack is the ONLY proctoring solution that’s BOTH a light Desktop App download (95% Load Processing) that continuously verifies identity and secures monitoring AND a browser extension (5% Load Processing) that lets you blacklist unauthorized websites and URLs, restrict copy/paste/print options and flag any screen capture attempts.

Mobile Phones

Hiding handwritten crib notes under your sleeve or jotting down important math formulas on your arm has now become a thing of the past. Students today have found a craftier tool to cheat in exams: smartphones. A new survey reports that nearly one-third of students with smartphones have stored exam related information on their phones to look up during an ongoing test. Most schools and colleges bar the use of smartphones entirely. Some install signal jammers to block any Wi-Fi, LTE or Bluetooth signals. However, the situation gets complicated when students take up online exams from their room, a cafe or any remote location for that matter.

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Android and iOS devices support several apps that scout the web for answers and use machine learning to solve complex math problems. Students have been found using AI-enabled question-solving apps like Socratic and PhotoMath to get instant test answers in real-time. All you have to do is click a picture of your question and let the app work its magic. Again, the ability of a supervisor or proctor to prevent cheating runs aground when online exams are conducted remotely. 

How to prevent online exam cheating with online proctoring

Mobile devices are getting smarter but so is online proctoring technology. Proctortrack proactively monitors any unauthorized use of smartphones and its mobile app can be used for a comprehensive room scan to deliver true test environment security. The app can also deter cheating by producing high fidelity face scans and ID verification. The mobile lockdown feature can be used to scan scratch paper or paper/pencil tests, and/or configured to be used as a calculator during an exam.  

Fake Identities

Despite the expansion of e-learning modules into major education domains, a problem still persists, cheating in off site exams. Online assessments are clearly a challenge for e-learning security as unsupervised locations become a breeding ground for academic misconduct. Through impersonation, test-takers can have other individuals take their exams for them. 

The “Varsity blues scandal” and “NEET impersonation scam” are a stark reminder of how fake identities can tarnish the integrity of high-stake assessments. The former involved fraudulent inflation of exam scores through student impersonation. Stand-in test takers were arranged to appear for the SAT and ACT exams on behalf of nearly two dozen students. About the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) impersonation scam, students allegedly cleared the NEET by paying impersonators to write their exam. Authorities also found that the photo in a student’s college application did not match with the one on his NEET scorecard. 

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How to prevent online exam cheating with online proctoring

Continuous identity verification using facial recognition can effectively stop student impersonation. Veripass is the baseline profile for a test-taker created with biometric scans (Face, ID & Knuckle), ID verification (using a globally available identity check to protect against the use of forged documents), and secure data storage. Veripass enables authentication of the data collected during real exams by comparing it against the baseline profile. 

Final Thoughts

Online proctoring is an absolute must for institutions who want to realize full transparency and authenticity in online credentials. Live proctoring can be implemented for conventional residency courses with online exams or courses that are entirely conducted online. The suggested control measures not only thwart academic fraud by ramping up the level of difficulty for cheating but also minimize any direct or indirect explicit costs due to exam centers and in-person supervision.