Secure Testing Options for the University

 Secure Testing Options for the University Jason Smith Innovation in Learning Center April 12, 2011 Introduction The University of South Alabama currently offers 350 fully online courses annually. In fall 2010 alone, enrollment reached 4,465 students. In addition to these online courses, the University offers a number of blended courses which continues to grow each semester. As enrollment increases for these courses each semester there is an increasing need for a variety of options for student assessment. This report identifies and compares two categories of services: online proctoring and secure environment testing services. Existing Security Protocols Current authentication methods in place for testing fully online courses consist of a unique login identifier (username) and password for each student. Once registered for an online course an email is generated containing their login password. This method of authentication has limitations, however, in that students could potentially share their login credentials with 1
others, willingly or not. Although this method has proven effective in the past, increased protocols should be implemented in the future to guarantee students taking exams online are, in fact, who they are supposed to be. Online Proctoring Online proctoring is becoming more common in higher education due in part to the rapid growth of distance education and increasing requirements by accreditation agencies. Live proctoring has proven effective over the years but the scheduling, staffing, and facility requirements can be costly and staff‐intensive. Online proctoring can reduce costs and staff requirements by outsourcing to a third‐party. Commercial services such as Sylvan charge $65 per proctored assessment session, per student. Third party proctors for out of state students are also available, but require an extensive effort to verify authorized proctors and securely exchange test materials. Online proctoring brings the benefit of live proctoring to students within their homes or dorms. A live proctor is connected via videoconference and interacts with the student, monitoring the session via webcam and microphone. Below are some commercial products that offer this service. ProctorU1 is a web‐based proctoring service that provides students with an interface to schedule, setup and proctor an online test from any internet‐enabled location. A student schedules a proctor via web interface and at the time of the exam, the student downloads a plugin that enables the proctor to view the student’s webcam and screen simultaneously, and can provide support for the duration of the test, should any technical issues arise. ProctorU requires no institutional contract, membership or setup costs; cost of the proctoring session is generally pushed to the student and fees range from $20‐$25 per 2 hour session. Students are required to own a webcam to stream live video to the proctor, and most supported cameras range from $30‐$80. Kryterion2 is a company that provides test deployment and delivery services, including online proctoring with certified proctors, a secure test delivery environment via Sentinel Secure, and hosts a nationwide testing center. Sessions are recorded and available for review 24/7. Pricing: Based on 10,000 enrollments, a one‐time fee of $10,000 is charged for setup and integration. Fees per exam range from $24 to $30, and require each student to purchase a webcam ($49‐
$89). Software Secure’s Remote Proctor3 is a hardware‐based proctoring solution that combines biometric fingerprint security and audio/video recording in one device. Remote Proctor is a service combined with a USB device that verifies student identity via fingerprint and then records 1 3 2
audio and a 360 degree view of the test‐takers environment for the duration of the assessment. Recorded video is archived and accessible by instructor or administrator, or each video can be reviewed by Software Secure’s review staff at a rate of $.08/exam minute. Each Remote Proctor device costs $150 and requires the following additional fees: $30 annual license per device, $15 support and hosting fee, per device. Secure Environment Testing Services In order to ensure test reliability and security, students should take non‐proctored tests in an environment secured by software‐based tools that guarantee operating system environment security and restricts the user to content only required for current test. This section covers solutions that could be used to author, manage and deliver assessments using secure testing environments for students taking exams in a variety of locations (e.g., a campus testing facility, student’s dorm room, or home). Standalone Test Creation and Delivery Platforms Scantron Parsytem4 is a software package that provides the following functions: creation of multi‐format tests from item banks, administration of tests online or on a network, grading and scoring functions. Parsystem is made up of two components: Partest and Partest Online. Partest Online is the component that provides secure assessment for tests created in Scantron’s Partest and works by securing the test‐takers desktop, limiting access to websites and local files. This service can be used both in a secure testing facility, to deliver tests to other locations via internet, or can simultaneously deliver both. Pricing for unlimited users: PartTest, the test building component costs $2,500. ParTest Online costs $2,125. Questionmark Perception5 is a test authoring software package that includes: the ability to create tests, security software to control the roster and scheduling, a web server component that provides for secure delivery via the web, and web based reporting software. Questionmark Secure is the component that provides secure assessment via web browser. This system is commonly used in a secured testing facility. Questionmark Perception Server is required to allow assessment deployment across the Internet or an internal network. Questionmark Perception is currently in use by the USA College of Medicine on 80 leased Dell laptops, used only for testing. According to the College, the system has been effective for testing but is time consuming managing the equipment‐ standard maintenance for eighty laptops is time consuming and they also have logistics issues distributing laptops on test day. Pricing for a 250 participant deployment costs $6,5946 for the whole system with an annual software support cost of $1,649. 4
6 Questionmark Pricing, 3
Respondus 7is a software package used to create and manage exams to be delivered by paper or electronically. Respondus Lockdown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within the LMS. When students use Respondus LockDown Browser they are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications. When an assessment is started, students are locked into it until they submit it for grading. eCollege’s ExamGuard is powered by Respondus, and is similar in functionality to Lockdown Browser. Pricing: Respondus Lockdown Browser can be purchased two ways‐ campus‐wide licensing model that is based on student FTE status and renews annually, or a “lab pack” licensing model that also renews annually. Campus‐wide licensing for10,000 to 15,000 students is $3,9958 per year, and the lab pack is $49 per workstation. Respondus, the test generation tool, has a one‐
time fee of $200 for registration and for 10,000 to 20,000 students it runs $2,545 annually. The College of Nursing currently has a license for Respondus. Secure Environment Software The software packages described below are not specifically designed for testing and assessment, but provide similar secure environment services that would be sufficient in a controlled testing center. Faronics Insight 9 is a classroom management suite that enables remote monitoring of each workstation from one central machine. An instructor or lab staff member can sit at one station and monitor the active screens of each workstation in the lab. Volume pricing: Tiered pricing, 1‐4 classrooms costs $599 per classroom. 5‐9 classrooms costs $499 per classroom. Fortres Grand 10110 is a lab management package that allows detailed controls over what services, applications, and hardware is available to the user. This package is often used to 7 Respondus Pricing, 9
protect public computers in labs from infections, malicious or unauthorized software installations, or other misuses. Fortres 101 works by a security agent that resides invisibly in memory while each computer action is quietly monitored to determine if that action is permitted or not. Pricing is tiered: 50 licenses for $583.50 / 22.28 per license, 150 licenses for $1283.5 / 8.56 per license. Identity Verification In June 2010, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) released a statement11 updating their policy on distance and correspondence education. This statement reads in part “…the institution must demonstrate that the student who registers in a distance or correspondence education course or program is the same student that participates in and completes the course…”. Based on this guideline, USA is currently working to deploy an identity verification solution, Acxiom Identity Verification Services12, within its learning management systems. Although it is neither an online proctoring nor a secure environment tool, USA recognizes the need to accurately verify students enrolled in distance education courses. Acxiom confirms student identities by asking students user‐friendly challenge questions generated from publicly available data. Questions are presented to students before entering an online exam, and if answered incorrectly a report is generated and sent to an administrator or faculty of record. The student is then allowed to proceed with the examination. Acxiom provides tiered pricing based on the requested amount of transactions, or student challenge events. Pricing ranges from $1.50 to $2.00 per transaction. The initial Acxiom deployment for the University will include 2,500 at $1.90 per transaction. This service is scheduled to be deployed to a test group for Summer 2011 and made available for courses in USAOnline for Fall 2011. Sakai integration is currently in the predevelopment phase and earliest availability is Fall 2011. 11
Distance and Correspondence Education, Policy Statement June 2010 12
Summary There are many commercial tools available that can be used standalone or in combination with other services to ensure a secure testing environment is provided for students. Some services described above work best in a controlled testing center environment, while others are designed to function in as many environments as possible. In order to accommodate the variety of student needs, this author recommends the University offer multiple options for hybrid and distance learning classes. An official testing center equipped with proper security and monitoring software combined with the option of remote proctoring services would be sufficient for high‐stakes exams. All other assessments could be delivered within USAOnline. 6