Momenta Learning

A blog on topics related to Elearning, online education, and instructional design.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Proctoring Model Do MOOCs Need?

When you talk about proctoring services in online classes, you either conduct it yourself or hire somebody else to do it for you. You could also design your tests so that cheating is reduced to a minimum, but that constrains you to the types of testing you can perform on students. With the recent approval of MOOC courses by the ACE, the gates are opening for a flood of more courses that are going to offer some kind of credit. In order to support that accreditation, some kind of mechanism has to be implemented to make sure the credits are earned under controlled conditions. MOOC courses usually would not use a proctoring service for assessment of students. The event mentioned above will change that.
But the question is then, how to evaluate a large number of students? As of now, very few students complete the course to the end, that is, a very small percentage will receive the MOOC certification, but even in this case the number of students surpasses the number of students in your regular college level online class, these cases can be easily handled by proctoring services because they can accommodate such population. If it is true that MOOC courses can be used as credit for college level courses then a way has to be found to accommodate a proctoring service for thousands of students. Of course, this is an area of opportunity to companies offering these services and I am sure they are positioning themselves to do this, but I am not sure if they are prepared to give this service to MOOCs. See, the proctoring service relies a lot on doing everything online and remotely. So, if you have a less than reliable internet connection that allows you to take a MOOC course, it is not going to cut it when it comes to proctoring. The situation here is that a lot of people taking these MOOCs are not in the US, and many times they are not even in developed countries. There is also the language barrier. If you are not a native English speaker, or if you don't have the college level of English required, you will have problems using the proctoring service since there is a point when the student will meet the proctor during testing.

I think the solution is around the corner because there are established services that provide testing for university admission tests (think GRE and TOEFL) all over the world. The model in this case follows partnerships with local companies that serve as local testing centers. So, it would make sense that proctoring services will try to find partners in those countries where the service is demanded, and special cases will have to be handled accordingly. Will it be cost-effective? I don't know, but the sheer number of students might make it a profitable business at the end. I don't think a proctoring service can do it by itself because the technology has not been equated all around the globe to operate every aspect of the service online, that is, testing centers might be needed anyways. This will give MOOC credits the respect they need in order to be accepted by other entities.

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