The Hidden Cost of Remote Proctoring
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The Hidden Cost of Remote Proctoring

The Hidden Cost of Remote Proctoring

May 8, 2024

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Previously on the blog, we’ve made the case for treating online proctoring as an investment — in the safety of your learners, and the integrity of your testing. We’ve detailed some of the emerging threats against fair, secure online assessments, and we’ve shown what can happen when these threats aren’t taken seriously. 

But we haven’t done a deep dive into the actual cost of online proctoring. Different providers have different billing models; the specific features you need — ID verification, participation monitoring, recorded vs. live proctoring, etc. — as well as the anticipated volume of exams, will all determine your top-line numbers. And while those numbers are important, they don’t tell the whole story. To really understand the potential cost of remote proctoring, you need to understand the ‘shadow costs’ — hidden expenses that can crop up if you focus exclusively on pricing when making your decision. 

(ps. If you're looking for Integrity Advocate's pricing, we recommend contacting our sales team, as our services are generally customizable based on your needs.)

Hidden Cost #1: Support 

The number one complaint we hear from prospective customers coming to Integrity Advocate from a competitor is the high cost of support required to get learners set up and running with other solutions. When an online proctoring tool requires learners to install an application or browser plug-in, or make changes to system settings, support rates may be between 30-40%.

Let’s break that down and look at the numbers. If you run 1000 proctored exams a session, and approximately 30% of those require a support call, that’s 300 support calls/session. If each support call takes 10 minutes to resolve, that’s 3000 minutes, or 50 hours, of tech support required on top of the cost of your proctoring service.

Hidden Cost #2: Reviewing (and Re-reviewing)

Another hidden cost of online proctoring involves resolving disputes and correcting ‘false positive’ violation flags. Many of the cheapest online proctoring tools rely heavily on AI to identify rules violations. If these aren’t followed up with a human review, innocent test-takers can easily be penalized. Even putting aside the more insidious biases of AI facial recognition, the technology is still too unreliable to be the final arbiter of ethical behavior in an online exam. AI proctoring systems can — and have — mistakenly identified facial patterns in things like wallpaper and houseplants, leading to false positive rules violations. 

And what’s the cost of this? Some proctoring services charge for exam retakes, others don’t. Even if there is no additional fee involved, consider the admin time required to investigate learner complaints and clear violations that have been falsely flagged by low-cost, automated online proctoring tools. 

Hidden Cost #3: Accessibility

One underrated question worth asking when considering an online proctoring system is: ‘how easy is it to accommodate my learners’? Especially when running online testing, accommodation is about more than extra time or support: it’s about adapting a system — generally one built with one very specific user/use case in mind — to meet the unique needs of your program. 

Most online proctoring tools are built for a higher ed audience. But we’re seeing more and more clients come from food and alcohol server certification, skills trades/health and safety training, and professional certification. On everything from LMS integration, to rule sets, to participation monitoring, these systems may require extensive customization — and additional time and money — to accommodate the unique user base, environmental and technical requirements of a non-higher ed audience. 

Hidden Cost #4: Liability

All of the hidden costs we’ve spotlighted before involve, in one way or another, the effort required to get a remote proctoring system working perfectly.  But what about when things go wrong? Ultimately, the design and implementation of a proctoring system must take into consideration the worst case scenario. 

By this we mean, consider the potential cost of a nightmare scenario — say, for example, an employee on a construction site, who has received health and safety certification from your organization, causes an accident on the job. What are the legal, regulatory or reputation implications if you are unable to prove they participated in the training and completed the requirements fully? 

The bottom line is that, ultimately, online proctoring systems aren’t something to cheap out on. This doesn’t mean buying the most expensive option on the market, of course — it means doing your research, and considering the full costs and potential implications of your choice.