Overcoming Barriers in Higher Education Online Exam Proctoring

A recent white paper outlined that a majority of students – 82% of those surveyed – prefer some of their courses take place online. As institutions continue to adjust to hosting fully remote courses and programs, they must carefully consider the experience students have, including exam proctoring

In this blog, we explore common barriers students face in taking higher education online exams and innovative solutions and technology tools institutions can use to address these challenges.

Security in Test Proctoring is a Top Priority

Maintaining the security and integrity of online exams is a critical concern. Institutions must ensure that students are not cheating. Solutions to enhance exam security include:

Proctoring Technologies: Implement advanced online proctoring tools that use AI to monitor student behavior during exams.A security graphic over hands on a laptop

Identification Verification: Implement robust identity verification practices. Some proctoring solutions, like YuJa Verity, offer a simple verification process that doesn’t require extra tools yet gives institutions peace of mind when it comes to academic integrity.

Consider a Lock Down Feature: With a Lock Down feature, instructors can help prevent cheating during proctored tests by disabling new tabs and the clipboard, closing open tabs, and offering a list of links students are allowed to access during a test. The options are customizable for each proctored exam. 

Provide Time Management and Flexibility for Students

Many students face challenges managing their time effectively during online exams. To address this, institutions can consider:

While online education offers unprecedented opportunities for accessibility and flexibility, addressing barriers to online exams is crucial for ensuring a fair and effective assessment process.

Extended Time Options: Provide flexible time frames for exams to accommodate students with different time-management needs.

Schedule Breaks: Allow short breaks during longer exams to reduce fatigue and enhance concentration.

24/7 Accessibility: Enable students to take exams at times that align with their peak performance hours.

Technological Barriers Must Be Addressed Promptly

Online exams often require a stable internet connection, access to specific software, and compatibility with various devices. Technological barriers can impede students who lack reliable internet access or possess outdated devices. 

To address this, institutions can:

Offer Technical Support: Offer a dedicated support team to assist students with technical issues before and during exams.

Provide Flexible Exam Formats: Allow for different exam formats to accommodate students with varying technological capabilities.

Implement Digital Literacy Programs: Introduce digital literacy courses to equip students with the necessary skills for online assessments.

While online education offers unprecedented opportunities for accessibility and flexibility, addressing barriers to online exams is crucial for ensuring a fair and effective assessment process. By planning for and working through common barriers, institutions can create an online learning environment that fosters success for all students.

Five Advantages of Lockdown Proctoring in Higher Education

While the primary purpose of a lockdown app is to maintain the integrity of the assessment by minimizing opportunities for cheating and unauthorized access to information, there are a variety of other advantages to using this type of browser in higher education testing:

Reduced Cheating Opportunities: Lockdown apps prevent users from accessing other websites, applications, or files on their device during the assessment. This significantly reduces the chances of cheating through conducting online searches, copying answers, or using unauthorized resources. Lockdown apps are integrated with remote proctoring services that use webcam and microphone monitoring to deter and detect cheating behaviors. This adds an additional layer of integrity to the assessment process.A student at a computer

Compatibility: Lockdown apps are designed to work with various learning management systems (LMS) and online testing platforms, making them adaptable to different educational environments.

Enhanced Security: Lockdown apps often have built-in security measures that help prevent various forms of cheating, such as copying and pasting, taking screenshots, and using virtual tools. Lockdown proctoring can also disable certain browser features, such as right-clicking and opening new tabs, to prevent users from exploiting these features to cheat or access unauthorized content.

Consistent Testing Environment: Lockdown apps create a standardized testing environment for all students, regardless of their device or operating system. This helps ensure fairness and consistency in the testing process. Additionally, lockdown apps are often used for browser-based assessments that require students to interact with online content, simulations, or tools, which can provide a more dynamic and engaging testing experience.

Data Collection and Analytics: Lockdown proctoring systems can collect data on student interactions during assessments, providing educators with insights into how students approach and engage with the content.

Generate Confidence in Every Testing Environment

No matter how an institution conducts tests, it’s important to offer support so students understand what to expect and how to resolve any issues that arise without leaving their quiz page, and so instructors feel confident in the assessment process.   

The Power of Data and Analytics in Higher Education

The utilization of data and analytics offers a personalized online learning environment that increases engagement and helps identify learning gaps.  

Overview of Data and Analytics

Data and analytics refers to the systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of information to inform decision-making, enhance institutional effectiveness, and improve the overall learning experience. In higher education, data and analytics can be used to improve the overall educational experience for students from processes used to teach to best practices and outcomes. 

Analytics provide a wealth of information helpful for making decisions.

Every aspect of learning can be broken down into categories such as attendance, average grades, feedback, test scores, activity online, and more, which all provide quantitative and qualitative data. This information can be especially useful when trying to answer questions, make a decision or solve a problem.

Using Data and Analytics to Improve Education

Analytics provide a wealth of information helpful for making decisions. Two powerful areas data and analytics can inform are student success and overall course outcomes. Doing a deep dive, universities and professors can use data to evaluate the overall academic performance of students to help make improvements to a particular course, or revamping a course all together to meet the needs and demands of students. Analytics can:

Identify gaps in learning: Administrators and instructors can determine which portions of a class’s curriculum students are universally struggling with. This can lead to the improvement of material within courses. 

Provide personalized learning: Through data analytics, professors can more easily identify “at-risk” students and reach out to provide additional support before the student drops out or fails. With personalized learning pathways, instructors can tailor materials to individual students based on their learning styles and preferences. An instructor in a video call with a student

Improve engagement: In addition to improving best practices, data analytics give professors the opportunity to improve overall student engagement, which creates a more meaningful learning experience. In addition to assisting with creating the most effective course design, using data and analytics can help educators create an online learning environment that fosters communication and collaboration between students and with their professors. 

Measure institutional performance: Data and analytics play a crucial role in measuring and improving institutional performance. By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as graduation rates, student satisfaction, and alumni success, institutions can identify areas that need attention and implement targeted strategies for improvement.

At the end of the day, higher-ed instructors have the same goal — to provide the best overall learning experience for students. Historically, this required educators to see between the lines to make changes when needed. In today’s ever-changing learning environment, data and analytics gleaned from that data are powerful tools in helping educators make decisions on how to provide the best learning environment, quickly and efficiently. This ultimately gives them more time to do what matters: educate.

How Single Sign-On Streamlines Access in Higher Education

What is SSO?

Single Sign-On (SSO) is an authentication process that allows a user to access multiple applications or systems with a single set of login credentials, such as their username and password. Instead of requiring users to remember and enter different usernames and passwords for each application, SSO enables them to log in once and gain access to all authorized systems without the need to re-enter their information. In higher education, SSO simplifies access to an institution’s learning management system (LMS) and other applications.

Enhancing the Higher-Ed User Experience 

In higher education, students, faculty, and staff interact with many digital platforms, from learning management systems to email, library resources, and more. SSO simplifies this experience, reducing the frustration of managing multiple login credentials and saving time for more meaningful academic and administrative tasks. Institutions can foster a more collaborative and streamlined learning and administrative environment by unifying access to all platforms under a single authentication umbrella. 

Institutions can foster a more collaborative and streamlined learning and administrative environment by unifying access to all platforms under a single authentication umbrella.

Key Components of Single Sign-On

With  SSO integration, institutions can provide seamless access to websites and applications regardless of a student’s physical location or device. Key components of SSO include:

Authentication Mechanisms: SSO systems use robust authentication mechanisms to verify the identity of users. This can include traditional username and password combinations, biometric authentication, or multi-factor authentication (MFA) for an added layer of security.

Identity Provider (IdP): The IdP is a crucial element in the SSO infrastructure. It is responsible for authenticating users and providing tokens or assertions that can be used to access other services within the SSO ecosystem.

Service Providers (SP): Service providers are the applications or platforms that users want to access. These services rely on the authentication the IdP provides, allowing users to move between them without needing additional logins.

Advantages of SSO in Higher Education A student using a laptop

The benefits of SSO in higher education are numerous:

Simplified user account management   From an administrative perspective, SSO simplifies user account management. When a user’s credentials change, such as when they update their password, the changes are reflected across all connected services, reducing the workload for IT teams. 

Robust security measures SSO systems often incorporate robust security measures, such as multi factor authentication, ensuring user accounts remain secure. Institutions can better monitor and control access to sensitive data by centralizing authentication processes. 

Ability to quickly scale and integrate new applications – As new applications are adopted, integrating them into the SSO system is more straightforward, which promotes scalability and adaptability.

Embracing Single Sign-On is not just a technological choice; it’s a strategic move toward a more agile, secure, and user-friendly educational ecosystem.

Top Considerations in Choosing the Right Video Platform for Your Institution

As colleges and institutions consider enterprise video platforms, there are several key considerations that can help guide the decision-making process.

  1. Functionality and Features

Before committing to a video platform, it’s important to dive into its core features. What functionalities does it offer for live streaming and on-demand content? Does it facilitate interactive elements within videos, such as quizzes and discussions? Understanding the breadth and depth of a platform’s capabilities ensures that it aligns with the needs of administrators, faculty and students.

  1. Integration and Compatibility

The integration of a video platform into existing educational technologies is critical to its success within your institution. Ensure you understand how easily it can be incorporated into your Learning Management System (LMS) and whether it supports single sign-on (SSO) for streamlined access. Compatibility with various devices and operating systems ensures a seamless and inclusive user experience.

  1. Scalability

“Assessing a platform’s scalability can help you determine if it can accommodate future growth, which also helps keep disruptions at bay during peak usage periods.”

Universities are dynamic ecosystems with fluctuating user numbers and content volumes. Assessing a platform’s scalability can help you determine if it can accommodate future growth, which also helps keep disruptions at bay during peak usage periods.

  1. Security and Privacy

In an era of heightened cybersecurity concerns, protecting user data is non-negotiable for higher ed institutions. When you evaluate a video platform, ask about security measures and whether/how it complies with data protection regulations. Ensuring robust security features and privacy controls is essential for maintaining the trust of both students and faculty.

  1. Accessibility

Accessibility is a cornerstone of modern education. Does the platform adhere to accessibility standards, providing features like closed captions and transcripts? Ensuring that the platform caters to diverse learning needs contributes to an inclusive learning environment.

  1. Technical Support and TrainingA customer support technician

A video platform is only as good as the support system behind it. What level of technical support is available, and how responsive is the support team? Is total user support included, or do users have to funnel their concerns through a dedicated person? Also, ask whether the vendor provides one-time or ongoing training to maximize the platform’s potential. A strong support and training infrastructure ensures a positive user experience.

  1. Analytics and Reporting

Analytics tools are invaluable for gauging the effectiveness of the platform. What metrics can be tracked to measure user engagement and performance? Can the platform generate reports on student progress? Comprehensive analytics empower educators to refine their teaching strategies and enhance the learning experience.

  1. Cost and Licensing

As with any software or service your institution uses, understanding the pricing structure is essential for budgeting purposes. Are there hidden costs that may arise either upfront or over time? Does the platform offer flexible licensing options tailored to the university’s specific needs? A transparent cost structure ensures budget alignment and helps institutions avoid unexpected costs.

  1. Future Development and Roadmap

A forward-looking approach involves examining the platform’s future development plans. When you evaluate a video platform vendor, check out their updates and new features. How responsive is the company to user feedback? A company committed to continuous improvement and innovation is more likely to provide a platform that evolves with the ever-changing educational landscape.

Making an Informed Decision

Colleges and universities looking to deploy an enterprise video platform must carefully evaluate the available options. By addressing these considerations and asking questions, leaders can make informed decisions that align with their institutional needs, ultimately enriching the learning experience for all.

Benefits of Gamification in Higher Education

A Brief Background of Gamification

Gamification employs game-like elements—such as competitions, polling, surveys, and other interactive challenges—in educational settings. The idea has been around for a long time, with many crediting its beginnings to an 1896 campaign run by Sperry and Hutchinson Co. Customers could purchase items from a catalog using “Green Stamps” similar to loyalty rewards campaigns retailers run today.

“Gamification, coupled with interactive tools like polling and surveys, is a transformative force in higher education.”

Another prime example is the Boy Scouts badge system, where children earn badges for mastering skills or participating in certain activities. In the early 1970s, the book “The Game of Work”  by Charles Coonradt was published. Coonradt explored the differences in accomplishments between sports teams and office teams, which set the stage for introducing gamification to education.

In the 1980s, Thomas W. Malone published several academic papers around using video game components in education.

Today, cellphones, apps and other technology make gamification common. Learn more about the history of gamification in this thesis paper by a University of South Carolina student.

Benefits of Gamification in Higher Education

Gamification has many benefits in higher education:

Enhanced Engagement: Integrating polling and surveys into gamified learning environments addresses the challenge of maintaining student engagement, especially in remote or online learning. These interactive tools provide real-time feedback, allowing educators to tailor the learning experience based on students’ needs and preferences.

Collaboration and Social Interaction: Polls and surveys encourage social interaction in the classroom setting.

Promoting Inclusion: The incorporation of polling and surveys provides a platform for student voices. Educators can use these tools to gauge understanding, preferences, and concerns, ensuring that the learning environment is responsive to the diverse needs of the student body.

Skill Development: Polling and surveys with a variety of question types and ways to engage contributes to the development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.

Immediate Feedback: With polling and surveys, instructors and students can receive instant feedback, which facilitates a deeper understanding of mistakes and supports continuous improvement.

Gamification, coupled with interactive tools like polling and surveys, is a transformative force in higher education. By leveraging these elements, instructors can create an engaging, inclusive, and personalized learning journey for students.

Enhancing Classroom Engagement With a Student Response System

The Evolution of Student Response Systems

The first clicker system was developed by the U.S. Air Force developed in the 1950s for training personnel. Stanford University and Cornell University followed with the adoption of clicker systems in educational settings in the late 1960s, according to the International Journal of Learning Technology. The technology wasn’t what it is today, but as cell phones evolved, so did cell enabled SRS technologies, which were less expensive and easier to use. By the early 2000s, the technology was used widely in universities.

Technological advancements have transformed SRS systems into sophisticated platforms that support various question types, group collaboration, and seamless integration with digital learning environments.

Benefits of Using a Student Response System

Students use cell phones in class. Enhanced Classroom Engagement: SRS encourages active participation by allowing students to respond to questions in real-time. This active learning approach shifts students from passive listeners to active contributors, fostering deeper understanding and retention of course material.

Immediate Feedback for Students: With a student response system, students receive immediate feedback on their responses. This enables them to gauge their comprehension levels and identify areas that require further study, promoting a self-directed learning process.

Formative Assessment Opportunities: Instructors can employ SRS as a formative assessment tool, evaluating student understanding during lectures or class discussions. This enables instructors to adapt their teaching in real-time and address misconceptions right away.

Encouragement of Inclusive Pedagogy: A SRS allows students to respond anonymously, creating a more inclusive and supportive learning environment. It also accommodates diverse learning styles, which helps make education accessible to all.

Data-Driven Insights for Educators: A SRS generates valuable data on student performance and engagement. Educators can analyze this data to identify trends, assess teaching effectiveness, and personalize instruction for individual student needs.

Implementing Student Response Systems Successfully

To harness the full potential of SRS and enhance classroom engagement, educators should consider the following strategies:

  • Set Clear Learning Objectives: Align SRS activities with specific learning objectives, ensuring that the questions asked directly contribute to the course outcomes.
  • Incorporate a Variety of Question Types: Utilize a mix of question formats, including multiple-choice, open-ended, and interactive polling, to keep students engaged and accommodate diverse learning preferences.
  • Integrate SRS Questions into Lectures: Introduce SRS questions at strategic points throughout the lecture to keep students attentive and break the monotony of passive listening.
  • Encourage Group Activities: Use SRS to facilitate collaborative group activities and discussions, fostering peer learning and teamwork.
  • Provide Feedback and Reflection: After SRS activities, discuss the results with students, address common misconceptions, and allow time for reflection on the material covered.

Leverage the Power of Student Response Systems

Student Response Systems have proven to be powerful tools for enhancing classroom engagement in higher education. By promoting active learning, providing immediate feedback, and fostering inclusivity, SRS not only improves student outcomes but also transforms traditional teaching into an interactive and dynamic experience.

Embracing technology in education, such as student response systems, ensures that the learning journey remains relevant and meaningful for today’s students, preparing them for success in a constantly changing world.

Join the Hundreds of Organizations Deploying High-Impact Learning Solutions