EdTech Startup Solves Biggest Challenge With Remote Online Testing
By: Proctor360 Inc.
"Even though proctored online testing has been available for more than a decade," commented CEO Ganga Bathula, "the single greatest challenge to delivering critical exams online has been the security of only using the test-taker's webcam. It's just too easy to cheat those systems. That's why we developed a headset that gives remote proctors a 100% complete view of the testing environment at all times."
Many colleges and online training schools offer online exams with remote proctoring, but a large number of institutions have avoided online testing options for truly critical exams where cheating must be 100% prevented. Among others, these tests include state bar exams that law students must take in order to receive their license to practice, college admissions tests like the SAT's, graduate school admissions tests like the GRE and LSAT, and professional certification exams that offer credentials that can advance your career.
Until the novel coronavirus pandemic threw the entire world into quarantine early this year, virtually all of the above exams required scheduling a test at live testing centers where proctors can physically monitor the test session to prevent cheating. But with the future unclear in the wake of this new disease, even stalwart organizations are beginning to look for remote proctoring options they can trust to deliver exams online.
According to the American Medical Association, Brown University and other medical schools are trying out interim solutions to remotely administer shelf exams to their medical students while live testing centers are closes due to safety guidelines that prohibit large gatherings.
On April 27th, the California Supreme Court ordered the California Bar to postpone the Summer exam session and work to find a way to deliver the exam remotely in the Fall. Other state bar associations across the country are considering similar measures as well. Further, in mid-April, The College Board, which oversees the SATs, announced that it would be administering the college entrance exam remotely in the event that schools remain closed through the Fall of this year. And according to Kaplan, several major graduate school admissions exams are moving online in response to COVID-19 concerns as well.
The biggest hurdle all of these organizations will face is how to embrace remote proctored testing while still maintaining the integrity and security of these exams. For years, online testing has been proctored remotely via a single webcam on the test-taker's computer or laptop, and this format makes it very easy to cheat. While the proctor can see the test-taker as they're taking the exam and they ask them to point the webcam around the room before the exam begins to verify that there are no study materials in view or anyone else in the room helping them, it's all too easy for someone to walk into the room later and stand just out of the narrow field of view that a standard webcam provides. Many students have even admitted to simply sticking notes directly next to the webcam's lens on their laptop where they're completely out of view of the camera at all times.
That's why many institutions have been reluctant to adopt remote proctoring solutions for critical exams—relying instead on live test centers. But these centers were already becoming too over-crowded and too costly to operate long-term. And with COVID-19 forcing these centers and even exam facilities at universities to close, the immediate need for a truly secure remote testing platform has become critical to the future of education, training, and certification around the world.
Proctor 360, an EdTech startup based in the Washington DC area, is launching a new testing platform that allows students to take any exam remotely—even paper-based exams—at any time with complete security. Proctor 360's patented 360-degree testing cam is shipped to students when they register to take an exam online, their identity is verified prior to the exam, and the proctor is able to capture a complete view of the testing environment throughout the entire testing session.
When the exam is over, the student simply drops the 360-degree headset in the mail to return it using a pre-printed shipping label. And if there is ever a concern about a student's testing session, Proctor 360 archives the 360-degree video of the entire testing session for later review if needed.
In early 2019, Proctor 360 completed a small funding round via an online public offering on Start Engine to raise the initial money to complete manufacturing development of their headset design and build out their online remote testing platform. With design and development complete, they're now beginning to onboard client organizations and administer exams.
Because their use of 360-degree camera technology for the purpose of remote proctoring is patent-pending, it isn't likely that any other online testing platform will be able to offer the same kind of security. And with the increasing need for secure, cheat-proof exam delivery, Proctor 360 is poised to capture a substantial portion of the remote testing market—particularly among institutions that place a high value on the validity of critical exam results.
"Remote proctored exams are becoming a new reality for many organizations that have avoided them in the past," says Bathula, who also owns and operates two live testing centers in the D.C. area that have been affected by the pandemic. "Fortunately, we've found a way to solve their biggest problem with existing services, and we're working to expand our service as quickly as possible to meet the growing demand for our secure platform."
Ganga Bathula, CEO