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Online cheating on college exams easy to prevent with new service


TALLAHASSEE, Florida - The NCAA says 61 Florida State athletes cheated on online tests during 2006 and 2007 in a scandal affecting all 10 sports at the prominent school. The U.S. Department of Education acknowledges that educators have long been concerned about the opportunity to cheat online. The recent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act addresses this issue, and several organizations have developed services that, they say, will make sure the person taking the exam is in fact the student enrolled in the course, and that the student is not otherwise cheating.

One such service, ProctorU, developed in part by Andrew Jackson University for its own use, combines methodology that addresses both identity authentication and cheating. ProctorU employs web cams and live certified proctors who watch students take their exams via real time audio-video. The proctor visually supervises the entire exam, looking for easily identified eye movements that may indicate cheating. Prior to starting the exam, the test taker authenticates his or her identity online through a service provided to ProctorU by a third party.

The third party, a large publicly held company, instantaneously accesses public records online and provides several questions that must be answered in a short time period by the test taker. The answers to these questions, such as their previous address and zip code, or their mortgage holder, are unlikely to be known by anybody but the test taker.

Other identity authentication services and products include a fingerprint pad and typing pattern recognition. Don Kassner, Andrew Jackson’s president, says, “We looked at just about everything out there, but foresaw potential problems with devices or services that required our students and the university to go through inconvenient and costly procedures and equipment purchases. We found our partner’s identity authentication service meshed nicely with our web cam proctoring service and incorporated it into ProctorU.”

In 2007, Andrew Jackson University, whose courses, quizzes and exams are all delivered online, looked for an online exam proctoring service. Administrators were disappointed to learn nothing was available that either made economic sense or was convenient to adopt. AJU then decided to develop its own online proctoring service and introduced it in early 2008. Now almost 95% of Andrew Jackson’s students take their exams online.

“Too bad ProctorU wasn’t available when Florida State needed it,” said Kassner, an avid sports fan. “But it is available today,” he chimed in, “and we’re inviting colleges and universities to take advantage of it before they run into problems with the NCAA, their accrediting agencies, or the Department of Education.”

Andrew Jackson University decided to spin off and commercialize ProctorU early this year when requests for the service streamed in from other colleges and universities. In order to meet this demand ProctorU is entertaining joint venture relationships with other organizations.


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 Bobby Bowden

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