Credible online assessments are the key to employability.
Not so long ago, I remember seeing this social media post about the value of real friends versus the online ones. Today as #SocialDistancing becomes the norm, the value we place on the medium of social connect has undergone a massive change.
Globally, over 1.2 billion students are out of the classroom. The collective disruption we are now witnessing in our schools, work, and play, along with a heightened awareness of what it means to value relationships, is adding fuel towards sparking an Online Education movement. While enough and more has been written about online learning, we also need to focus on online assessments. With all major high stakes exams getting disrupted – CBSE, JEE, NEET etc, the need to have credible online examination system has jumped into focus.
Why Online assessments matter?
A virtual learning environment will not reach its full potential without credible online assessments.
Students today are not only facing a watershed event in terms of the global health crisis but are also having to navigate the shifting job market. They need to learn to respond with agility over their lifetimes to changes in labour market requirements, and fast-changing developments in technology. We find that online learning and assessments are the way to enable this transformation.
How do remote assessments help?
Growth of Online assessments
Indian Education System is one of the largest in the world and with more than 1.5 million schools with over 260 million students enrolled and about 751 universities and 35,539 colleges. Further, after the US, India is ranked as the second-largest market for e-learning, currently valued at US$ 180 billion.
These numbers underline the importance of virtual learning for India, especially in today’s context. Many colleges and schools have started the process of adapting to an education system with a blended learning model culminating in online assessments for higher education, in particular, where time is at a premium.
Globally we have seen a pronounced trend toward online learning, however with COVID19, there has been a major leap of adoption of online assessments as well.
To take the most relevant example , the GMAT Examinations: flag bearers of credible standardized assessments, decided to switch to the online model on 20th April 2020 completely, just as the pandemic came on at full force. This would not have been possible if the processes for the online model were not already in place. The change was only of higher acceptance.
The GMAT at-home online exam is cheaper, costing $200 - a reduction of $50 compared to the in-person GMAT exam.
The use of online test model by one of the largest testing agencies undoubtedly increases our confidence about the authenticity and reliability of online assessments through various means of remote proctoring.
In India, SSC NASSCOM has been at the forefront of the online aseessment movement. Focusing on the tools and techniques used for credible online assessments to complete this Virtual learning environment we have been working with National Skill Development Corporation, GOI to implement various proctoring mechanisms within the larger skilling ecosystem. Our team has conducted over 10 lakh proctored assessments since 2015 for IT skills trained candidates making education delivery meaningful to students who can’t go to training centers or attend exams today due to external factors.
This assessment methodology has given greater credibility to our certification program and value to the candidates. We have now taken this expertise to deliver the same quality in an online environment.
Who is a Proctor?
A proctor is an inpidual who ensures the genuineness of the test taker and that he/she doesn’t indulge in any malpractice and/or use any unfair means to attempt the exam. In a conventional examination, the proctor, also called the invigilator ensures identity verification, prevents malpractice and maintains the sanctity of the exam environment. In the online world, proctoring takes on different forms.
Possible risks & mitigation
|S No||Malpractice Risk||Mitigations|
Search solution to the question(s) on internet
Assessment Engine will not allow any participant to toggle out of the test engine system. In case participant attempts for that post one warning, the test will stop.
|2||Candidate Authorization & Authenticity
Human proctors can authorize the right candidate before every assessment, basis the registration details provided, and Govt. approved ID card. The process gets recorded and is provided in the report.
The AI-based system takes over the process and tracks the candidate throughout the assessment, raising the flag at every instance of unfair practice.
At the same time, human proctors continue to track the candidate watching the live feed that is coming in to ensure no malpractice is done. They have means to chat, pause, or even end the test of the candidate.
The entire test gets Video recorded and recoding is available for audit etc.
|3||Exposure to the Question Bank||Any test taker can’t take a screenshot from the assessment engine & in case tries to click the snapshot through any mobile, the webcam will capture it & the test can be stopped immediately.
|4||Browsing other Websites||Secure Browser (SB) is a locked-down browser that will not allow the candidate to browse any other website. The only way to move out of the test window is by ending the test.|
|5||Candidate not present in front of the system
||Flags get raised at every instance when the candidate is not in front of the system. A screenshot of the candidate's test screen is taken at this instance and kept as part of the record.
One of the key problem of any online assessment is the limitations of electrical connectivity and internet bandwith. Unless these issues are addressed the adoption of remote online examnations will continue to remain a challenge. Further there is also the matter of uniformity of personal use devises – Laptops, Tablets etc which are not geared towards examinations presently.
These problems are more pronounced for developing country like ours, where once again unequal distribution of wealth may lead to unequal learning opportunities.
The way forward
On the one hand, COVID19 has spiralled us into a socio-economic crisis but equally, it also presents an opportunity towards higher usage of online testing which will become part of the mainstream education system. Today with better connectivity, infrastructure, and popular availability of smartphones, the candidates can conveniently take up the exam from the comforts of their own home. Now it is up to us to ensure that all modes of learning, skilling, and assessment of the future workforce are credible and forward-looking.
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