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How online proctoring is becoming the new syllabus for digital gig workers

With the onset of technological advancements in the assessment space, the emerging trends are shaping well to make exams not only more effective and student-friendly but also less laborious and tedious for institutions. One such application of technology is online proctoring – which has found even more adoption since the pandemic started.

Online proctoring or online invigilation is an assessment methodology that enables students to write an exam online in a remote location while maintaining the integrity of the exam.

Online proctoring has been prevalent ever since it emerged as an effective and cost-efficient way to conduct exams for the educational institutions and assessment industry across the globe. A recent global remote proctoring market research report expects the market to exceed $10 billion by 2026, with proctoring solutions extended to corporate hiring, certification, and training.

Due to the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, exams were postponed, which forced the educational industry and the assessment markets to expedite their push towards remote exams.

While the entire assessment and allied spaces are still emerging, the conventional approach of getting the business done was through fragmented manpower agencies.

This process lacked a systematic approach to training and quality assurance, resource management, and scalability. As a consequence, the expanding market of online proctoring got even bigger with the pandemic associated trend shifts.

The technology quotient

Online proctoring can be of three types: live proctoring with a mix of human and artificial intelligence (AI); auto proctoring supported only by artificial intelligence (AI); and image proctoring, enabling artificial intelligence (AI) monitoring through images taken at regular intervals.

Although the AI-powered assessment model was a breakthrough for online assessment platforms, soon the stakeholders began debating its pitfalls. In AI-powered assessment models, the fluctuating algorithm accuracy, lack of human judgment, and empathy during the exams left test-takers and the student community concerned. One can only imagine how nerve-wracking it could be for test-takers to transition to an assessment model that increased paranoia and student anxiety.

The traditional assessment model gradually reached its natural decay and the world debated the fallout of AI-powered proctoring. This led to the need for a solution that paired the best of both worlds – human proctoring, and an AI-led system that flags potential incidents with the benefit of a real human checking to review real-time flags and incidents. The technology deters malpractice and the human element enforces trust and safety for the student community.

‘Gig workforce’ enabling operational flexibility

The gig workforce helps infuse human talent in a quick, effective, and scalable manner. The gig economy has grown steadily in recent years.

The education and assessment markets welcomed the gig workforce because of their on-demand service nature which worked out to be feasible, given the seasonality of exams.

Forty-nine year-old Rakesh, who is a full-time sales manager, earned an additional income of Rs 50,000 in just four months. Meanwhile, another gig worker, Neelam, earned more than Rs 30,000 per month in the past seven months – a 30 percent increase on her existing salary. With the growing popularity of online proctoring, an alternate source of income emerged for giggers.

Scaling up the appetite

In order to make the gig workforce an integral part of the new exam model, an inclusive, sustainable and robust system needs to be built that not only meets the expectations of the assessment industry but also ensures candidate safety and experience.

An active pool of well-trained, verified online proctors backed and managed by technology platforms is the need of the hour. This platform should enable proctor discovery, onboarding training requirements, activation, and verification.

The platform should also be equipped to enable coordinated operations, seamless interaction between the stakeholders, ensure checks and balances, and uphold the cause of the exam stakeholders.

Emerging international demand

India is on the pedestal for being the largest supplier of online proctors globally. Certain considerations should be taken into account before making any further strides in this direction.

Student experience needs to be emphasised with a focus on generating awareness and enhancing the availability of local proctors who might be better to invigilate exams in a regional and cultural context. Better student experience involves creating an examination environment that is considerate and humane.

The assurance that a human proctor is there to help and support in their own language with regional understanding gives the much-needed comfort to students giving their examinations.

There is also a need to build comfort, confidence, and lasting trust among the test owners, test-takers, and other stakeholders. India needs to aggressively build on simple yet effective solutions to overcome infrastructural/economic challenges and conduct awareness campaigns on a much larger scale.

With an increased demand for online proctoring coupled with the flexibility offered by the gig workforce, there is an emerging consensus among the stakeholders to build and leverage platform-driven technologies and end-to-end proctor management systems.

These proctor management systems can coherently benefit the students, the education industry, and the assessment platforms in order to enable the next generation of exam operations and assessments.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YS.)

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