Teaching Essentials

Online Proctoring

RRC Polytechnic does not subscribe to an institution-wide tool for proctoring students online.

This information is provided after consultation with RRC Polytech Legal Counsel, Centre for Learning and Program Excellence (CLPE) and Exam Accommodations. (December 2020)

Can I create a proctored exam environment through Webex or Teams?

RRC Polytech does not recommend proctoring students through Webex or Teams for the following reasons:

  • Webex and Teams are not designed to proctor exams.
  • Significant limitations and drawbacks can lead to legal issues, even if done well.
  • Difficult to monitor more than a few students at once and identify misconduct.
  • Students can find workarounds to engage in academic misconduct, even while instructor watches. Videos with ideas for online exam cheating are easy to find.
  • May create more problems for students, negatively impacting performance and creating opportunities to appeal grades.

Online monitoring of exams, if necessary, should accompany alternate test construction and not rely totally on proctoring to ensure academic integrity. In this way, proctoring becomes instructor engagement in the evaluation process, allowing the instructor to be available for questions.

For more information on alternate and authentic assessment, see RRC Polytech’s Flexible Online Delivery Model or request a teaching and learning consultation.

What are the considerations for online proctoring?

Online proctored exams should be used only for situations such as accreditation or other pressing reasons that require student observation.

See below for important considerations for online proctoring. If unable to resolve these considerations, online proctoring is not viable.

  • Students AND instructors need consistent, high-speed wired (not wireless) internet, or risk dropped connections. Instructors need to handle many incoming video streams simultaneously.
  • Most test or exam sessions should not be recorded unless absolutely necessary as it poses a higher risk of triggering student privacy concerns. Legal Counsel is available to consult, if necessary, with Chairs or Deans to assist with determining if recording is appropriate.
  • Set up alternate methods to contact the instructor (e.g. phone/email) in case of technical difficulties with internet.
  • Determine how to monitor student environments for individuals and groups i.e. asking to see student’s entire work area, desk and room before the assessment.
  • Requiring students to use an external webcam (to gain a specific view of the student), may be an extra expense that poses an unreasonable hardship, or may be impossible to obtain due to product shortages.

Planning for Problems

  • What happens if the instructor’s connection drops during the exam?
  • What happens if the student’s connection drops during the exam?
  • What is the backup plan in case of technical difficulties (e.g. rescheduling) when technical support response times vary.
  • What behaviours are flagged for further evaluation? Some behaviours considered suspicious may actually reflect symptoms related to a student’s medical condition or disability (e.g., movements, sounds).
  • How will alleged misconduct be investigated and by whom? Note: Any alleged misconduct should be investigated after the exam.

What about exam accommodations?

Students eligible for accommodations have to be informed of the test delivery method and they will need to follow Exam Accommodations procedures (i.e., submit an online exam request) in order to receive accommodations for the exam.  

  • The College has a legal duty to accommodate students with disabilities or other protected personal characteristics to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship means that the College absolutely cannot accommodate because doing so would compromise accreditation or would not require the student to demonstrate the learning outcomes. Inconvenience, frustration and even cost usually are not enough to amount to undue hardship.
  • Our legal duty to accommodate continues, in spite of the difficult circumstances created by remote learning.  
  • Students are entitled to accommodations as assessed by the Student Accessibility Services Team. Eligible students may need an alternative assessment environment or other accommodations with Exam Accommodations, the unit that facilitates and implements exam accommodations, may not be able to provide.

    However, some supports may not be available: Exam Accommodations will not be in a position to proctor exams in an online environment. As a result, if an instructor chooses to create an instructor-proctored environment, the instructor will be responsible for implementing the approved accommodations. This could mean being available to proctor for a longer period of time (i.e., double the time) and/or ensuring a student writes their exam in a different virtual room, separate from the other students.

Contact the Exam Accommodations Team for instructor supports and exploring options for implementing accommodations.   

If you are not able to provide requested exam accommodations, online proctoring is not viable.

What are the instructor’s responsibilities?

Proceed with an instructor-proctored environment ONLY when 1) All issues listed above are resolved AND 2) The situation is a last resort, NECESSARY option in a remote learning environment.

When cleared to proceed:

  • Consider having multiple proctors for large groups of students. This allows monitoring to continue while addressing individual student concerns.
  • Setup a break out room for addressing individual concerns (only viable with multiple proctors).
  • Ask students to leave their audio on for the instructor to hear each person, but advise all students to turn their speakers off to reduce disturbances by other test takers.
  • Create an opportunity for students to practice setting up and using the technical tools required during the test/exam.
  • Provide the following information to students, ideally two weeks in advance:
    • date and time of the assessment
    • behaviours being investigated as misconduct
    • support options (servicedesk@rrc.ca; Caselog)
    • method to communicate with the instructor during the exam
      • e.g., send a private note in the chat to the instructor?
      • Note: If the interaction must be verbal, this may present a distraction for the other students.

These recommendations should be considered a last resort in administering a remotely proctored test or exam.

What are the guidelines for setting up a remote exam environment?

Proceed with an instructor-proctored environment ONLY when 1) All issues listed above are resolved AND 2) The situation is a last resort, NECESSARY option in a remote learning environment.

Provide students with clear guidelines about what is and is not acceptable, at least two weeks in advance.

Make sure the guidelines include information about:

  • Cell phone and device usage (phones on or not, and/or in the room for back-end support)
  • Landlines and answering services set not to disturb the test environment
  • Family members and roommates notified not to disturb the test taker
  • Materials allowed and not allowed in the workspace (specify prohibited items)
  • What to do if two or more students live together as roommates or need to be in the same residence for any reason
  • Headphone usage
  • Expectations about background noise (e.g., TV, music etc.)
  • Expectations about responding to interruptions (family or other life issues) during the test
  • Bathroom breaks allowed or not
  • Food or drink allowed or not
  • Writing paper and writing tools allowed or not

Instructors and co-invigilators also need to set up environments that ensure no interruptions during the exam.

Ultimately, online proctoring is not recommended and instructors are encouraged to developed alternate assessment methods.

For more information on alternate and authentic assessment, see RRC Polytech’s Flexible Online Delivery Model or request a teaching and learning consultation.

When the instructor-proctored online environment is deemed the ONLY option, follow the above guidelines to make the best out of the situation. This information provided after consultation with RRC Polytech Legal Counsel, Centre for Learning and Program Excellence (CLPE) and Exam Accommodations.