Information Services

Online Proctoring

Information on Online Proctoring.

This page provides advise from ISG for users considering online proctoring tools. ‘Proctoring’ means the same thing as ‘invigilating’ however in the USA the term proctoring is more common, so the software solutions often refer to the term proctoring.  ISG currently do not have a preferred proctoring supplier but are working on providing one going forward.

What is online proctoring?

Online Proctoring allows users to participate in an online exam in a location which is convenient for them.  It allows the institution to replicate exam hall conditions whilst monitoring the student digitally and can include:

  • Student ID Checks
  • Room Scans
  • Audio/video recording
  • Screen Recording
  • Locked down browsers
  • Human or AI based invigilators

Online proctoring only facilitates the invigiliation aspect of an exam and does not include the online assessment software.

Use of Online Proctoring at the University of Edinburgh

In 2020, a task group was set up to make recommendations in light of the move of almost all assessment online across the University.  This group was called the Online Remote Examinations and Assessments task group (OREA). The group has a webpage and a recommendations paper which was published and shared around the University.

Due to many of the challenges listed above, including ethical considerations, the OREA task group recommended that online proctoring should only be used in specific use cases and not as a blanket solution; and that there should be an approval process to ensure consistent decision-making. These recommendations were approved by Senate Education Committee in September 2020.

Requirements

The majority of online proctoring solutions require users to have the tools and equipment below. Failure to have any of the following will mean the user is unable to participate. 

  • A computer on which they have administrative rights 

  • Windows or Mac supported and updated operating system (linux support varies)

  • Up-to-date Google Chrome or Firefox browser 

  • Reliable internet connection (min 300kbps) 

  • A working web camera 

  • A working microphone 

Benefits and risks of proctoring

Proctoring is effectively the translation of an offline activity (exam hall invigilation) to an online activity. In a University environment, it has a number of benefits such as flexibility of location (allowing students to participate in proctored assessments all over the world) and reduced physical space requirements (for the University).

However, there are also a number of challenges to contend with, some of which may be hard to overcome such as:

  • user privacy concerns
  • scalability
  • costs (which will paid for by the school)
  • additional risks of technical failure (broadband drops, local hardware issues, power)
  • inequality
  • digital anxiety

Governance and Approval Process

The use of proctoring in online exams requires approval from the relevant College Teaching and Learning / Education Committee. Requests should be made to the relevant School Board of Studies in the first instance. If the Board of Studies supports the request, the School should then seek approval from College as appropriate. 

For further information contact: 

Possible use cases where online proctoring may be appropriate

1. In professionally regulated degrees, as a ‘fall-back’ position for high stakes assessments that normally need to take place in-person under invigilated conditions.

2. Where a high-stakes assessment needs to take place concurrently in-person under invigilated conditions for campus-based students and online for off-campus students. In this case, online proctoring may be appropriate to ensure equivalency between these cohorts. Note that this use-case only applies in the situation where campus-based students are sitting in-person exam

Related links

OREA task group 

IS Proctoring Discussion Paper (2020, internal audiences only)

Assessment Continuity Guidance