A Fault Line in the Proctoring Landscape?

As on-line training grows, so grows the need for effective proctoring solutions, but like two political parties preparing to wage an electoral war, opponents congregate on two sides of an emergent question, “which is better, human proctors or fully-automated solutions.”

Many of the arguments on the human proctor advocacy side center on not being able to replace human eyes and ears with technological functionality such as webcams, screen recorders, and biometrics.  But one aspect to the contrary that needs closer attention has to do with the simple frailty of human nature.  That is to say, when human proctors are involved, they too have weaknesses that can be exploited by test-takers.

In New York about 5 years ago, three Department of Motor Vehicle security guards and eight of their associates were arrested for allegedly used substitute test-takers to assist potential cheaters in obtaining commercial driver’s licenses.  Apparently the test-takers paid anywhere from $2000 to $2500 for the special treatment.

“The guards are accused of taking bribes to arrange for customers to leave the testing room with their exams, which they gave to a surrogate test-taker outside who looked up the answers on a laptop computer.”

  DMV Guards, Proxy Test-Takers Arrested in New York Driver’s License Scam,      By John Marzulli and Bill Hutchinson, New York Daily News, Sept 25, 2013

Another area of concern is determining what part cronyism may play in the human proctor/test-taker relationship.  Does the person who is proctoring his best friend’s daughter turn the other way on more occasions than not during a testing session?  Does that proctor actually assist in providing answers to the test-taker out of friendship?  The potential for such vulnerabilities certainly appears to be there.

Finally, there is the sheer aspect of competence.  How can we be sure that the proctor is not more interested in texting others or reading the latest New York Times best seller than doing his or her job?

This is not to say that these activities are rampant problems, but all they do all weaken the case that human proctors would present promoting themselves, and they contribute to the argument in favor of a fully-automated solution.

Biomids, Inc., a Massachusetts-based, biometrics solution company founded in 2012, markets a fully-automated proctoring solution called Persistent Proctor.