Education is certainly headed toward an almost completely paperless environment. While this has a plethora of advantages for schools and teachers, it also brings up challenges and may require a new way of looking at routine classroom activities. “How do you ensure testing security in an online testing environment?” This is a question I am often asked while working with Mastery Manager educators. Administering an assessment online creates a classroom management scenario that, when I was growing up, my teachers did not have to address. “Back in my day,” the TI-83 was a huge distractor in class; it was a great help on tests, but provided a slew of unintended entertainment antics that presented my teachers with a new management issue. They adjusted to the now ancient calculator and locked down our misuse of the device. The TI-83 caused its fair share of problems for my teachers; however, compared to smartphones and tablets, they pale in comparison.
Think quickly about what a student can do during an online test that would cause a teacher to lose sleep: take screenshots, chat with another student, take a test for someone else, navigate to a browser tab for help… and the list goes on and on (for more information on this subject, ask a teenager. They know more about how to cheat the system than we do!).
For educators, hope is not lost. Think about the benefits of online testing: no paper, instant results, manual data input is minimized and the results can be reviewed as an individual, or as an entire classroom. Now weigh these benefits against the classroom management concerns. Is it still worth your time?
I’d like to advocate that, yes, it is. If a teacher stays vigilant, circulates the room, monitors screens and activities of students and utilizes Safe Exam Browser or the Exam Login app (which prevents students from navigating away from an assessment to search for answers or take screenshots and continue on in the test) then, most cheating and shenanigans would be cut down to just the outliers. Good, honest conversations with your students about character, consequences and personal standards will also help mitigate the risk of misuse. In the end, online testing is here to stay. Yes, it creates issues within the classroom that teachers must adjust to, however good old fashioned relationship building, question and response randomization so students receive different assessment versions and diligence during these online assessments are a teacher’s best strategy. As an educator, you want to embrace the new trends, be a part of the evolution/revolution of education and utilize the rapport you have with your students to help them learn more effectively through several different mediums, including a paperless, interactive online test.