The growth of online testing in education is truly fascinating. Online tests offer multiple advantages: they are graded automatically, the feedback is instantaneous and there is humungous data for future analysis. On the flip side, there are concerns about the linkage between online testing and cheating as the students are merely a click away from the internet. The tech-savvy students of today make disruptive use of technology such as cell phones and smart phones during an exam. Fortunately, the educational authorities and institutions can cheat-proof the online exam system in many ways, from deploying technological tools to conducting exams from verified centers alone.

Ways to Deter Cheating

All attempts at resolving the cheating menace should begin with establishing a culture of honesty within the classroom. A culture of honesty can be nurtured when students themselves believe that they can be clean and competitive at the same time. There could be a discussion at the start of the academic year about academic integrity and related matters. The message should go out loud and clear that dishonest behavior is being taken seriously and would invite repercussions as the goal of any good institution is to create a level-playing field for all its students and form ethical leaders for the future.

An honest school culture should be supplemented by a proactive approach, which combines strategy and technology, in the fight against cheating by implementing an online examination system.  Technology is crucial to examination management and creation of a cheat-free examination environment. The exam software should scrutinize the validity of a student by checking past records to prevent the all-pervasive nuisance of impersonation. Auto online remote proctoring in the form of webcams and microphones should be deployed during an online exam to help an invigilator to see, interact and keep a tab on the candidates. Biometrics devices, face recognition technology and fingerprint scanners would also go a long way in authenticating the identity of an examination candidate. The exam access should only be enabled from a valid IP environment in order to foil illegal login attempts. And the students should only be allowed to use a custom browser that prevents access to the internet and other applications on the computer.

On the strategic front, assessment methods should be designed to measure varying indicators of learning. The questions should be subjective as far as possible to assess higher order thinking and understanding skills and leave little or no room for copying. Multiple-choice questions can measure a student’s ability to recall information and should be allotted limited time so as to maintain the student’s focus on available options. Moreover, they should be chosen from a large pool of questions and be randomized for each candidate. The questions on the screen could be displayed one at a time so as to make it difficult for the students to take a screen capture of the displayed questions and share them with their peers and get the required answers.

To conclude, a culture of honesty, technology and prudent strategy can combine to create a cheat-proof online examination system.