Secure Exam Browser: Securing Online Proctored Exams With Navigation Control and a versatile proctoring software

Introduction

The offline system of examinations conducted in offline mode proved quite hectic and time-taking for the invigilators which restricted any other engagements that they could be having. The invigilator had to keep focussing on individual students and must be fatigued at the end of the exam. So now times have changed and we have moved forward gradually transiting into the online exam ecosystem with the introduction of a proctoring software that takes care of all the nitty gritties that bothered the invigilator helping him and the educational system to offload their burdens and breathe a bit.

With a fantastic software program called Thinkexam Remote Proctoring, the educational system is in for a welcome revolution that will change the traditional views and opinions towards the entire institution of education. It is a helping hand extended towards the educational fraternity with it’s innovative concepts, creative models, a foolproof working process, and complete solution to take online exams without having to compromise on any important issue.

With the help of online test proctoring, test takers are now able to demonstrate a lot of unimaginable creativity in employing diverse means to ace the online proctored exams. The examinees have shown a lot of transition in how they try to manipulate from passing chits, whispering, eyeballing to leveraging technological advancements to cheat online.

Ways of cheating in online exams used by students

IMPERSONATION–A common form of cheating applied by students is using a proxy or an impersonator to take the web proctored exam. They try to leverage the remote invigilator’s inability to identify genuine test-takers.

EXTERNAL HELP—Sometimes students seek help from friends and family who are sitting casually beside or behind the monitor, holding placards with answers. This is also one way to cheat effortlessly used by students.

EMPLOYING DIGITAL DEVICES—It has been seen that smartphones, calculators, Bluetooth earphones are some of the most misused items used during online exams. They are used to store answers for surfing on the web or getting information.

The new belief now is that cheating in an online exam is easier than in a traditional exam. So students employ tactics to help them succeed academically without having to work hard. But technology is a significant enabler in making online exams cheating-free. Using advanced Proctoring Technologies with it’s robust features enables institutes to conduct an end-to-end secure online examination while maintaining it’s integrity.

The important question that can be asked is, ‘how can one remotely monitor what’s happening on the test taker’s screen? Because invigilators don’t have the know-how of what to check and expect when unfair means are used. The list of hacks adopted by students from using external devices like micro-USB, browsing through restricted web pages for answers to sharing your screen with other test-takers is truly expansive. But this issue sadly has not been prioritized and taken seriously and so cheating remains a bold, free and common phenomenon. 

Types of on-screen cheating

Copy-paste

One of the most conventional forms of cheating in an online exam is copy-paste work. Whether it is keeping the answers ready in a word doc, notepad, or using study material from a separate document, these traditional, reliable forms of cheating have found quite some takers among students. As the eyes of the student are glued to the screen the invigilator may not notice the copy-paste work done underhand and thus he may not flag it off as a concern.

Screen sharing/Mirroring

When giving exams online candidates often misuse multiple and ubiquitous software like screen-sharing or mirroring apps being one of them. The app allows another person to remotely view the exam screen and feed the test-taker with answers.

Online Browsing

The power of the internet has made online cheating a pleasant breeze. Students trying to cheat very easily switch from their exam screens, navigate through various websites, search engines, social media pages to get answers. They paste the questions onto the URL and find the best solutions.

 Use of external devices

External devices like hard drives, USB, Micro SD are easy to conceal and difficult to detect and standard tools for online cheating. Whether before or during the test the students plug them for easy use.

Use of Bluetooth and other virtual machines

The tech-savvy students don’t find it difficult to configure machines with their computers before the start of the exam and then directly copy from them. It is the same for Bluetooth-integrated devices like smartwatches which are used to relay answers to students.

Task Switching

A very common form of cheating is switching between one screen to another.By using keyboard shortcut controls like Win,Alt+tab,Alt+F4,F1,Ctrl+P,print screen, online cheating becomes easily possible.When technology can help to cheat it can help to remove these malpractices away too. An air-tight,fool-proof solution must be developed which will limit student’s navigation control efficiency when they give any online test. It should be a robust, effective, credible anti-cheating mechanism to deter students from cheating using modern technology for wrong purposes.

Safe Exam Browser(SEB)is one such cutting-edge solution that prevents breaching of the rules, doing malpractice, violation in online exams. It totally eliminates a student’s ability to cheat by creating a highly secure and controlled, measured environment online. The SEB prevents users from opening any other window, restricts access to unauthorized resources, and controls system functions during the exam. It runs on any computer or device integrated with any web-based LMS which has high-speed internet.

What is Mettl Secure Browser

Mercer/Mettls’ new online proctoring solution is specifically designed to give secure navigation control during a candidate’s test-taking experience. Mettle Secure Browser(MSB) is a next-generation anti-cheating lockdown browser that provides steady security along with exceptional features as compared to regular safe browsers.

MSB is a web-based lockdown browser that changes any system into a safe, reliable workstation. It restricts the student’s ability to communicate with outside sources during the test, thereby making high-stakes, large-scale exams exceptionally secure, fair, and proper.

During the proctored exam a manual proctor assesses the candidate’s behavior. The proctor cannot evaluate and monitor activities on the test screen. So then universities and institutes can leverage MSB to look into such gaps in the invigilation process.MSB does not allow test-takers to move out of the application before the finish of the test. It also restricts students from opening any unauthorized website or accessing any blacklisted software/third-party applications.MSB also shuts down all active applications like browsers and cheating tools. It has control to not allow other activities like switching to other websites and sharing screens.

A unique safety policy of the Mettl secure web exam browser is the absence of navigation buttons. It is similar to a locked kiosk mode that can’t be interesting unless the student submits responses for grading. MSB currently works only on windows(7 and above). It supports a minimum of 4.5.1 net framework(it comes inbuilt in the MSB exe. file). It provides undoubtedly the best online proctoring services.

How MSB prevents navigation control and helps conduct remote online exams successfully

Restricted control keys/functions–MSB smartly restricts all right-click menu options, function keys, keyboard shortcuts to preserve the integrity of the process of exam and it’s content. The features such as copy, cut, and paste with a mouse and use of keys such as Win, Alt+F4, F1, Ctrl+P using the keyboard are disabled. Copying and pasting anything to or from the keyboard is not possible. Print screen or screenshot options are also barred to ensure no text content is copied and distributed to other candidates. This function also blocks students from copying problem statements from the question paper and sharing them on the web.

Disabled External Ports—The use of any cable, hard drive, or external devices like USB, internet dongle are barred in the MSB. If the student has already synced any such device before the announcement of the test it will immediately terminate by logging the student out. The disabled external ports also prevent bypassing or illegal booting.

Secure Workstation–There is no concept of URL with MSB integrated into the system. The browser window is a focussed, full-screen window that doesn’t allow for minimization or any interaction with other screens. It has no navigation elements, no search options all toolbars and UI controls are removed to secure the process of exam further. Options like back, next, refresh and stop are the only options available to students.

Limited Navigation--Many institutes have advocated for student’s ability to navigate through a few websites or access a specific software/third-party application needed for assessment or test-taking. For eg, during open-book exams, MSB allows customization options for students which enables using predefined whitelisted websites and software to function within the browser and block the rest.

No browsing-Surfing the internet during an online exam is not allowed. Access to search engines like Google, Bing, or social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp is strictly barred. Other browsers like Mozilla, Chrome, IE are terminated before launching MSB on the candidate’s system.

No access or switching-–MSB does not allow access to other applications like messaging, virtual machines, and remote desktops to disable any communication that may lead to sharing of data and information among students giving the exam. A student cannot even switch between screens nor enable options like screen-sharing.He/she cannot access Task Manager to avoid displaying the details of the exam running on the computer.

How does MSB work?

The candidate needs to install the Safe Exam Browser exe. file in his computer system which will also install all required packages. When done, the browser will work separately shutting down other windows and applications running in the background. Before launching MSB it shuts down all other applications running in the background on the system after taking formal permission from you to do so.MSB also mentions the pending application’s name in the alert message. The candidate is required to click on the OK option shown on the warning message for MSB to launch itself. If ever the MSB is not able to close all mentioned applications it will ask you to close those applications manually from the Task Manager.

Some of it’s significant criteria are:-

MSB has administrative rights on the system

Updated windows with no pending installation

MSB isn’t logged in as a Guest User

Anti-virus is disabled

No implied restrictions on the network and application

Conclusion

Some students prefer smart work over hard work and try to fulfill their motives with the help of digital tools and technical accessibility. But as these practices are wrong they need to be stopped and erased permanently. Educationists on the other hand must protect the dignity and integrity of their respective colleges, course, or certificate. Higher education is witnessing significant improvement across the globe and people are seeking ways to prepare for and take exams online more smartly and capably. To preserve the sanctity of the online exam system there is a growing need to keep a strict eye on the malpractice of cheating intensifying a stricter focus on monitoring, analysis, and scrutiny. With the help of the same technology which is used by students to gain an advantageous edge unethically the educationists and concerned personnel can prevent cheating by applying fool-proof processes and smarter measures to bring this corrupt practice to an end. The world of learning has become more real, challenging, and wonderful too and it’s about time the services of MSB are used and leveraged to measure the real-time, caliber of their students and to prepare them for a bright, efficient, and productive career and life.

Published by ambikajha

I am Ambika Jha.I like to write on different topics.I feel life is too short for anything.So let us work our best in the given time and let life's music be in rhythm and rhyme.So be your best and never stop to learn and write.

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