Big Brother is watching (you take your online exam)

In our program we use proctored exams extensively. While it does add an extra layer of security to online testing, it can be very inconvenient to students who have to find a proctor, show up to take the exam, and often-times pay for the service. A new $125 system is being implemented by Troy University. This locks down the student’s computer, requires a fingerprint for authentication, and features a microphone and a camera capable of seeing 360 degrees. The software offers some pretty neat features as well. Check out CNN’s story on it at:

Here is a link to Software Secure’s website:

Darren Crone
Darren is a sarcastic, odd, bald man with a very dry sense of humor. He originally hails from Albany, N.Y., but claims Charleston, S.C. as his hometown.He joined the Air Force soon after graduating high school. This decision was made because a) working as a busboy wasn’t quite cutting it, and b) he had zero desire to ever attend college. While in the Air Force, he traveled the world as a Combat Cameraman, documenting both natural and man made disasters in places such as Thailand, Namibia, Armenia, Germany, Panama, Italy, Croatia, Japan, Singapore, and probably more than a few places that have changed names since you began reading this bio. There are many stories about his travels locked away in a vault somewhere and it is said that Samuel Adams holds the key. While in the Air Force, he was given the opportunity to attend a year-long Video Journalism program at Syracuse University. Much to his amazement, he found that higher education didn’t suck at all. Having been bitten by the education bug, he completed his BS and MA in education and training from Southern Illinois University and Webster University respectively. He then completed his doctorate in instructional technology and distance education form Nova Southeastern University. Darren currently works as an Instructional Designer at The University of Texas at Dallas and enjoys spending time with his wife, children, dogs and fish. His hobbies include weight training, watching the Texas Rangers (yes, really), and trying to appear smarter than he really is.

3 thoughts on “Big Brother is watching (you take your online exam)

  1. Matt Crosslin

    Distance Ed will own your life! It’s funny how one of the links used the word ‘creepy’ for this. Creepy? In itself, this device isn’t creepy – just depends on where you use it. :)

    Of course, the obvious thing to point out is that instructors should design courses that use more active learning, and not use exams at all. But many just can’t get away from that. But it’s definitely a good answer to the ‘getting old’ question that always gets asked when discussing distance ed: ‘How do you guarantee that your online students aren’t cheating?’

    (Which is always followed by the retort ‘how do you guarantee that your students in your face-to-face class aren’t cheating?’)

  2. When you say “active learning” what exactly does this encompass? I am not a huge fan of exams online, but I am trying to figure out how I can assess them if I don’t use them. I should probably talk with Darren about this specifically, but suggestions from any of you would be helpful.

  3. Matt Crosslin

    Well, when in doubt – ask Wikipedia! ‘Active learning is an umbrella term that refers to several models of instruction that focus the responsibility of learning, on learners.’ (see

    ‘Active Learning’ is kind of the buzz term at UTA now. There is a big administrative push for it. The Wikipedia link above has some ideas. but there is also more you can do in an online class. For example, have students create a blog and blog their thoughts as they work on a group project. Have students use online resources (such as Zoho or Gcast) to create an online multimedia lesson for other students, etc.

    The hard part for instructors is that active learning assignments can take a lot of work to set up properly. Obviously, you have to use rubrics to assign grades, and creating a good rubric is a chore. But, once the class gets going, you don’t have to do as much revisions down the line, because you have based the class on students constructing their own knowledge rather than just soaking it in from you. Obviously, this is better for more current event based classes than classes that have to teach basic facts that don’t change often (like a Medical Terminology course, for example).

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