Online Assessment In the VET Sector

School exam

School exam

I’m not sure how many of our group members are involved in the Australian VET Sector, but if you are, you would know that one of the many challenges we face is ‘how to ensure that certificates and statements of attainment (SoAs) for students assessed online are being awarded to the right people?’

The scenario: Mary enrols and pays online to participate in an online course and assessment. The advantage to her is that she can do the whole course in the comfort of her living room at a time that best suits her. That part we all know and accept. But what about the poor education provider who has a responsibility to ASQA or State Training Authority (STA) to ensure that Mary is ‘actually’ the person who participated in the online course and who ‘actually’ completed the assessment. Mary has controlled the entire process without invigilation and has determined her own assessment environment. Who knows whether she got her dad or a friend to compete her assessment.

Why does this matter?

We’re about to embark on an expensive software development project of integrating web cam monitoring technology into our online assessment processes, but I’ve heard some derogatory comments about the technology, including “web-cam monitoring during an assessment is only slightly better than nothing”.

What am I asking of you?

Before committing software development resources to this project I’m keen to get some feedback from the group on our proposed strategy. Have you had experience with web-cam monitoring technologies before. What level of assurance did it provide in terms of verification of competencies? If you had the option what would you have done differently? Any feedback you think might be helpful?

Our Strategy

I won’t bore you with too many details.

  1. Student must agree to using a device with an active web cam
  2. Upon initiating an online course and/or assessment the student is invited to enable the camera
  3. The student is then asked to present photo ID, reads the privacy policy, Ts an Cs and accepts an online declaration
  4. The student then commences the course / assessment as the system takes random and strategic photos during the process.
  5. Later a facilitator is prompted by email / sms to login and validate the competency before issuing the provider can issue the  certificate.
  6. The facilitator has the assessment scores, SCORM Interactions and access to the library of stored images taken during the assessment.

How can you cheat?

If you want to know how you could cheat this system, one answer would be to remote your keyboard and screen so your brains trust could be sitting in the next room out of camera view, doing your assessment for you while you sit there wearing an intelligent frown and practising your typing skills.

The system provides a reasonable level of confidence compared to just trusting Mary to do the right thing. But is that enough for the training provider to be compliant? If not, what else do you think we should  / could be doing to improve this verification process?

Thanks for your time and I look forward to your response.

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