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Is online assessment secure?

Julie Lykke Storm
October 7, 2020

Your stakeholders might have reservations about the security of online assessment. Is it really safe? The short answer is yes. With the right security measures in place, online assessment is safe, and even offers a range of built-in security opportunities that traditional means of assessment do not.

Any quality assessment requires security mechanisms at every stage of the assessment process. When designing new digital test forms, item production can be streamlined through robust item banking. And, to minimise cheating and exposure, items can be automatically assembled through data-driven test construction features, or the random pulling of items.

When delivering digital assessments, security is maintained through a lock-down browser, which restricts access to local software and files and only allows access to whitelisted (online) resources. Combined with physical or online invigilation and a real-time monitoring toolbox, you'll be able to maintain the high standard of exam security that you need.

Security measures before, during and after the exam

Let’s take a closer look at some of the security measures. Safe and secure exams start with the infrastructure of your e-assessment set-up. IT administrators can crucially prevent a whole range of cheating options by simply setting the firewall to only accept connections that are allowed, such as Inspera Assessment and whitelisted online resources. 

When the exam day has arrived, exam day registration with ID check is an easy and proven way of preventing any identity mix-ups. During the test, the invigilator process should be carried out in a structured and consistent way. For on-site exams, you can rely on a combination of physical surveillance and online monitoring. 

Online exam monitoring and invigilation 

Physical surveillance simply means using observations to spot anomalous behaviour among learners as the exam takes place. Online monitoring is a crucial part of your digital invigilation toolbox. The monitoring focuses on the use of the lock-down browser, and includes security audits of anyone who sets up a secure session and/or closes it. It also involves detection of anomalous processes on user devices, blocking the processes, and notifying invigilators when anomalies occur.

Special diagnostics software should be used for random checks of devices to verify if they are running the correct version of the lock-down browser with non-tampered startup scripts.

Finally, you can detect cheating after the exam with the help of a plagiarism checker. Inspera Assessment integrates with external plagiarism prevention services, which can be consulted for each learner submission individually.

Remote exams and security

An increasing number of educational institutions worldwide are investigating remote high-stakes digital exams as an alternative to traditional on-campus assessment. The Inspera Remote Exam allows students to sit secure and reliable digital exams in their own homes using their own devices. The add-on to the Inspera Safe Exam Browser offers a number of new and improved security features such as identity verification, advanced monitoring, test session recordings, and integrity inspection. More than ever, it is important to detect cheating and to protect the integrity of assessments while allowing students to take exams remotely.

Do you want to learn more?

You can learn more in our ultimate guide for everyone who wants to move to secure online examination. Download the free eBook

You are also welcome to contact us if you have any questions regarding online assessment and security.

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