The Web Cam As Exam Invigilator

If you’re a student at an online university, watch out. New webcam technology is going to make online exam invigilation much easier.   There’s already software available that locks a user’s computer, making it impossible to search stored files or the Internet. But something fresh from Software Secure, goes a couple of steps further.   Not only does it include fingerprint identification to stop you allowing a ringer to sit your exam, it also has a tiny webcam and microphone that are set up close to the computer. By the webcam is a reflective ball, giving a 360-degree view of the room.   Once the exam begins, both camera and microphone begin recording. Any major movement or noise is highlighted on the recording, allowing the examiner to review them afterwards, and determine whether there was any surge in writing afterwards. Leaving the room for a bathroom break followed by a fast paragraph would raise a lot of red flags, for instance.   Although it’s not foolproof, Software Secure president and CEO Douglas Winneg said that using the camera “ensures that those people that are taking classes at a distance are on a level playing field.”   One of the first to use it will be Troy University in Alabama. They have about 11,000 online students, a good percentage of whom are in the U.S. military and spread around the globe. Initially they’ll try the technology with graduate students, then undergraduates. The camera and microphone will cost students $125.   Currently, online institutions tend to do little testing, relying more on written course work. But with at least three million students enroled online, assessment and credibility have become issues.   Where exams have been carried out, they’ve tended to rely on trust, allowing students to sit exams at home unsupervised, or proctored centers, which can mean several hours of driving for some students.

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