Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How Examity works to boost flexibility, integrity of PARCA exams

Michael London, CEO, Examity
Michael London is a founder, president, and CEO of Examity, the leading proctoring service provider for online university and certification exams. PARCA recently contracted with Examity, which will allow PARCA members to take its certification exams online with greater assurance of integrity and security. As this is a relatively new online business, PARCA eNews talked with Mr. London about online proctoring and how it works. The idea came to him when he was administering standardized online tests for Mayor Bloomberg of New York. He was dissatisfied with the online proctoring services available at the time. He found them lacking in the ability to catch cheating, ensure privacy, and they relied heavily on paper records despite being an online service. Following that experience London began developing ideas for providing enhanced online proctoring services.

Q. What sets Examity apart from other online proctoring services?
A. Number one, we recognized that being able to integrate with learning management systems and test delivery systems would be crucial, because it needed to be easy to import data and easy to sign in. As an example with PARCA, they use Moodle and we integrate with Moodle, so when someone goes into Moodle, they see us. That is particularly helpful. Number two, different groups wanted us to proctor differently depending upon the seriousness and importance of the test at hand. We pioneered FairExam™ flexibility for security, which means we have different levels of proctoring depending on what a group needs. Our certification clients want level 3, which is the most secure. We authenticate the student, we proctor the student over the web with technology and with an actual person watching, and who can comment on behavior if needed during the test or even stop the test if there is a serious infraction. Our certification clients tend to like that. But level 0 is just authentication, and level 1 is authentication with proctoring just a sample of test takers to deter people from cheating. Level 2 is the record and review solution, where we authenticate, record all the tests, and proctor all the recordings.

Q. What are some of the common ways of cheating on online exams?
A. First there is cheating during authentication. That is simply getting someone who is going to test better than you to take the test, and there are actual services out there that you can hire to take the test for you. In the online world, since you sometimes have no contact with the test provider, some people are willing to try that to get a certification they may not have earned. During the test we see everything from the old fashioned cheat notes, writing things on the hand, having another person in the room, to leaving prompts, second monitors, etc. and going online to search. We are able to detect that. By watching the monitor, the way we handle it is to red flag that test, or if there was no question about what the person is doing, then we may stop that test.

Using a webcam, Examity can monitor test takers 
during an exam
Q. Is there a limit to the number of exams you can proctor?
We haven’t reached it yet. These exams are scheduled, so there is a technology component and a service component to our service. You could say there is a people limitation but we staff according to need and we do a good job of predicting demand, and because we’re integrated with systems we see the test before it is coming so we staff accordingly. So there is no limit to how large this could be. During the month of June (2014) we did 44,000 tests.

Q. What are the benefits of Examity to a certification organization?
A. Some certifications require some level of proctoring, and even if the organization doesn’t need to do it, it is rare to find a group that doesn’t want to do it, because in the certification world you want your certification to have significant value. An important part of that value is ensuring the security and integrity of the exam. I would just say that we are excited to work with PARCA because they are taking test integrity quite seriously and so do we, so we’re a good match for each other. When you think about the kinds of certifications they are offering in health care it is particularly important to make sure people are well qualified and that’s what they are doing.  

Q. What are the benefits to professionals who take online exams?
A. If a test has the person clearly identified and we can assure the person didn’t cheat then that exam holds a higher standard. There are plenty of tests out there for certification based on the honor system and that’s fine, but research shows that if you do let people cheat, a minority of people will, and that cheapens the test and the value of the certification.

Q. What about saving travel costs?
You just helped me with your question. The flexibility we offer is significant. People can take a test 24 hours a day 7 days a week from wherever they want.

Q. Where do you see online learning and exams going in the next 5 years?
A. Obviously online learning is growing on its own, and now you have work innovators moving to online learning, (but that growth has been limited by the inability to safeguard security and integrity of the testing process.) Now when you have Examity, we’re adding the integrity needed to continue that growth by giving people the comfort level and giving people flexibility and credibility by authenticating and proctoring online for their tests.

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