ProctorU is the online proctoring service that Ole Miss Online uses for students that are unable to take their proctored exams at the Distance Education Testing Lab (DETL) in Oxford or at one of our regional campuses.
Although online universities have existed for many years, it is only in the past ten years that they have become reputable (remember the “collegeinpjs.com” commercial?). The diploma mills that were advertised on television churned students through the system and collected the tuition, but disregarded the ‘education’ its students were getting.
When actual colleges started offering fully accredited degrees online, one of the major hurdles was protecting the academic integrity of the degree and the university. How do you possibly ensure that the student that is signed up for the course is actually doing the work? How can you ensure that students are not cheating when they are taking tests online?
The solution … online proctoring. An industry was born!
After careful research, Ole Miss Online chose ProctorU for online proctoring. ProctorU was founded in 2008 because of a remark from a student at Andrew Jackson University in Alabama. She mentioned to the president of the university, Don Kassner, that it defeated the purpose of taking online classes if she had to drive to the campus to take exams.
Kassner teamed up with Jarrod Morgan, the chief IT officer at the Andrew Jackson, and founded ProctorU. Today, the company provides proctoring services for 560 colleges and more than fifty corporate clients. They oversee 50,000 online exams per month.
“We allow colleges to replicate what they do in a classroom,” says Kassner.
Students are charged $20 to $25 per exam. About 80 percent of ProctorU’s employees are proctors. None of the proctors are allowed to work from home. They sit in company offices, so that they can be monitored. THE PROCTORS ARE BEING PROCTORED!
How It Works
At the beginning of each semester, after I have finalized the Ole Miss Online testing schedule, I load the same information onto the ProctorU website and students are able to immediately begin making appointments. The tools required for the service are a web cam, microphone and internet connection. The web cam and microphone allow the online proctor to communicate and observe the student throughout the exam.
After logging in to take the exam, the student downloads a chat box that facilitates communication with the proctor at ProctorU. Then, the proctor requests permission to remotely connect to the student’s computer and begins the verification process. The student must answer questions about….the student. Although students sometimes find this a bit too “Big Brother” for their liking, the information comes from county auditor databases.
Next, the tester is asked to show some form of ID and then scan the room via web cam for the proctor. Finally, the student logs into the university site (Blackboard for UM students) and the proctor enters the password for the exam. Barring some issue with the exam, this is the last time the student interacts with the proctor except by chat box.
ProctorU grew so quickly that the company started opening offices outside of Alabama in 2011. One of the new ProctorU sites was Livermore, CA. Kassner, who grew up in Palo Alto, returned home to the Bay Area to oversee that location and Morgan stayed in Alabama.
The company plans to continue growing by gaining efficiency through upgrades in technology and expanding the number of schools they serve. Although ProctorU has at least six main competitors now, Kassner said they plan to stay on top of the industry. “Jarrod always says anybody can make a cup of coffee,” Kassner said, “but not everybody can be Starbucks.”