The University of Mississippi’s new Distance Education Testing Lab (DETL) has made the proctored exam much easier for Ole Miss Online, iStudy, and Independent Study High School students.Instead of scheduling proctored testing on a tight and limited schedule, students now report to a sleek computer-based testing lab on the third floor of Kinard Hall at 207 Rebel Drive.
The testing lab features twenty-two testing cubicles, each equipped with a computer that runs on Windows 7. Most tests are accessible through a web browser but students are restricted to only a few such as UM Blackboard, MyMathLab, SAM, and Hawkes Learning System.
Proctor work stations are also high-tech, allowing continuous monitoring of test takers. Wan Latartara, an Instructional Technology Designer with Online Design & eLearning said, “The DETL lab is equipped with an enterprise-class video surveillance system that allows for playback, zooming, and freeze frame—the same system that is used by the University Police Department. Every testing carrel is monitored constantly via camera. At least one staff member monitors the video feed at any given time during testing hours.”
Mary Lea Moore, Coordinator at Online Design & eLearning at Ole Miss, explained how exam integrity is ensured. “During Web Enhanced Instructor Training, faculty members teaching online classes are instructed on different techniques to protect the security of online exams such as having proctored assessments, password protecting assessments, using large question pools for randomization, and using questions that require higher level thinking.”
The new lab opened at a time when the growth of online education is booming at Ole Miss and also nationally. The first online class at Ole Miss was offered in the summer of 2001. The number of offerings has grown to 262 courses (2012-2013 academic year) with enrollments over 8,000. Moore said, “Not only has the number of courses and enrollments grown, the number of tests proctored has increased. In the Spring of 2013, we proctored close to 1000 exams for Ole Miss Online courses alone. However, DETL also proctors for iStudy, Independent Study High School and other learning institutions.”
Of course, taking an exam in a proctored testing facility is different than taking one in a classroom. The University of Mississippi’s Distance Education Testing Lab encourages students to familiarize themselves with the center’s testing policies and procedures before reporting for an exam in order to avoid confusion.