Friday, December 19, 2014

Remote Proctoring

ESA recently debuted a new service for those who are seeking their ACE or BCE. No longer do you need to schedule an exam date with a proctor and perhaps drive far distances to meet your proctor in his or her office.

How about you take the exams at home. By yourself. In your pajamas?

Well ... that last part is up to you. Recently ESA partnered with a Canadian firm called Loyalist to offer remote exam proctoring. With remote proctoring the exam is still proctored, but it is no longer done in person.

To fully appreciate the differences, let's start by talking about traditional proctoring (there have been many posts about proctors on this blog, including herehere, and here). Since the BCE program started in the 1970s, exams have been proctored. Initially they were done on paper and then the job morphed a bit when internet testing became a reality, but overall the relationship between the proctor and the applicant has remained about the same:
  • Applicant finds someone to proctor their exam
  • Applicant and proctor schedule a time to take the exam
  • Applicant communicates that information to ESA. We schedule the exams and send the login instructions to the proctor about a week out from the test.
  • Applicant (usually) travels to proctor's office
  • Applicant takes the exam while the proctor sits in the room and supervises
I've had applicants tell me that they have flown or driven hundreds of miles to get to a proctor. This is still an option, and for those who want to test with an in-person proctor, they still can. However, some people prefer a different model.

Enter remote proctoring...

In a remote proctored setting the applicant takes their exam(s) online and a proctor watches them through the computer's web camera. The proctor watches your key strokes, your facial movement, and your surroundings while also listening in for any audible anomalies. If any illicit activities occur, the proctor is authorized to terminate the exam and notify ESA HQ. At the conclusion of the exam your computer is left exactly as it was prior with no new hardware or software installed.  It's not free, of course, but the fees are collected by and paid directly to the proctor, not ESA. The current fee is about $50. The new process looks something like this:
  • Applicant tells ESA that they want to use a remote proctor and test during a certain time period (generally we ask for a specific date and then allow a little flexibility around that date)
  • ESA advises Loyalist that a new exam is being scheduled
  • Loyalist sends instructions to the applicant for logging into their system and paying the fees
  • On the day of the exam, applicant logs into their computer from virtually any location and is directed by the proctor on how to proceed.
  • At the start of the exam period, the proctor will check the ID of the applicant, review the surrounding area for unauthorized materials or people, and inform the applicant of the testing rules. 
  • At the conclusion of the exam the proctor will watch as the applicant tears up any scrap paper that was used (applicants are permitted one blank sheet of paper and a pencil/pen during the exam, but it must be destroyed or remitted to the proctor at the end of the exam).
Traditional proctoring is still available for those who prefer it, but if you (a) prefer to test at home rather than traveling to a proctor, (b) don't like having a proctor in the room with you while you test, and/or (c) don't live near a proctor, then remote proctoring may be a good option for you.

If you want to use a remote proctor for your next ACE or BCE exam, please contact or and ask how you can get started.