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AZ Tech Beat | September 29, 2020

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Startup Proctor.io aims to reduce online academic cheating

Startup Proctor.io aims to reduce online academic cheating
Ashley Garcia

According to Stanford University, “73 percent of all test takers, including prospective graduate students and teachers agree that most students do cheat at some point. 86 percent of high school students agreed.” For those that do cheat, how many actually get caught? Not many according to the study. For those proctoring an exam in a classroom, there is less chance of cheating, but what about for distance learning? How do you protect against cheating in an online class?

One startup, Proctor.io, a scalable, fully-automated remote proctoring system that can be implemented within university’s learning management system, creating a scalable cloud network, is right there helping professors proctor exams online.

Proctor.io will also be presenting at SXSWedu LAUNCHedu competition, March 3-6, in Austin, Texas. Mike Olsen, Co-Founder and CTO of Proctor.io shares more with us about their new product.

How would you say proctor.io improves and enhances distance learning?

The potential for online education to reach millions is finally real. And learning online allows us to do things that were never possible in the traditional classroom. However, adoption of teaching online has been hindered by what most professors I’ve talked with phrase as “rampant cheating.” They believe it’s easier to cheat in an online class; no one is looking over a student’s shoulder and anyone can take the class or exam for a student. With our proctoring and biometric identity system, we eliminate the possibility of cheating and enforce identity verification for online exams. This will help instill integrity in online programs, as well as eliminate the fears many institutions currently have, holding them back in the adoption process. It levels the playing field for students as well, who fear that many of their current classmates may be unfairly cheating to get higher grades, or those who can only attend online due to location or life circumstances.

How is distance learning becoming increasingly necessary for higher education?

More and more people find that the linear progression from high school to college to career just doesn’t work. At ASU we see the largest portion of our students are middle-aged adults with families who want to better themselves by either completing a degree they had previously started or by getting a new one that will help them advance further in their current career. Most of them work full-time jobs and have families to care for. Online education is the only reasonable solution because of its at-your-own-pace type of architecture and flexibility. Other demographics include students in areas that have a much higher cost of education and are seeking online-based alternates or international students who might not have the ability to attend a foreign school in person. As online education continues to evolve the cost of getting a degree will begin to decrease, which in turn will make higher education more affordable for everyone.

Is this a service that can be used through any online school?

Yes. We built the system in a way that it can be integrated into any existing learning management platform. All the heavy lifting is done outside of the school’s LMS so once integrated it becomes nothing more than flipping a switch to turn it on. We already offer integrations with Canvas and Moodle and are working with ASU and Pearson to integrate into Learning Studio.

How long has the site been available to students?

Only a couple months-we’re busy focusing on our product and we continuously iterate based on customer feedback. The marketing website is a lower priority at the moment.

I know that studying online can be a completely different dynamic. Did you study online as well?

We’ve only sampled a small group of students, but feedback we received has been very valuable. Once our pilot is complete at ASU this Spring we hope to collect more. The current solution they use involves human proctors, which is highly invasive to the student’s privacy. No one likes when a stranger is watching you, especially through your webcam in the comfort of your own home. Right now the “proctor” takes remote control access to a student’s computer and has information on you them such as the school you’re enrolled in, classes you’re taking and even the number of bathrooms in your house (seriously, they use this to validate your identity. Come on, that’s scary.) These human proctors work out of an office in Alabama making $8 an hour potentially watching and controlling up to 16 different students’ computers at the same time. We use machine learning, where only restricted people at the university level have access to the recordings. Computers analyze the recorded data and only flag students with high levels of suspicion. This process in the end protects students’ rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

Tell me about the Echovoice Foundation?

Actually Teddy and I created it. We believe everyone deserves a chance to realize their full potential through online education. Our plan is to setup a scholarship fund by donating a portion of Proctor.io’s profits to TuitionImpact.org. We haven’t finalized any ideas on the selection process yet so stay tuned for more information as things evolve. Proctor.io’s mission is to decrease the cost of online education by increasing its integrity and availability.

Try Proctor.io free for one week here. https://proctor.io/request-demo