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Software uses body movement to catch cheating on online exams

Posted at 8:01 PM, Mar 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-01 00:17:04-04

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — In November, CBS 5 Investigates uncovered a large number of Arizona college students paying others to do their homework or complete their online exams. But two Arizona natives have created a solution to catch people in the act.

“Our software can actually block them from accessing the school to begin with, or we catch them red-handed and say the following students are using this service,” said Mike Olsen, graduate and former employee of Arizona State University’ online school.

He and a friend created Proctorio, which pieces together eye movement, paper rustling, and even background noise to tell if a student taking an online exam is cheating.

“The eye movement is really looking to see, do they have an iPad hidden over here that they’re trying to use? And it’ll catch that, and then ask, because it’s intelligent, to show their desk area,” Olsen said.

While his software looks for the same things human proctors do, Olsen claims it is cheaper and more accurate.

“They’re not biased, they don’t discriminate, they work long hours,” Olsen said. “ASU, if they want 24/7 proctoring at the math center, they’d have to hire a lot of people. For me, I just flip a switch and three more servers go up.”

The professor sets parameters for the exam – no other web browsers open, for example – and then gets a list of suspicious students based on those boundaries. Proctorio does not dock grades; rather, the professor uses the information as he or she wishes.

What about privacy? Is big brother taking the test and then going through the computer?

Olsen said students use their own webcams, Proctorio always asks the student’s permission to access the video and only the institution they attend has access to the footage and results.

“Students don’t have to download or install anything, they take it in their web browser,” Olsen said. “That’s great because we don’t have access to files.”

Olsen said they’ve doubled in size in the past two months, and are watching over 500 exams a day in 48 different countries.