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A guide to proctoring and student identity validation with keystroke dynamics

From K-12 schools to universities to continuous education platforms, learning providers all over the world are increasingly making their services available online. But academic dishonesty—especially online—remains a primary threat to the integrity of degrees and certifications. 

This blog post and the attached whitepaper explains how educational institutions can maintain their reputations by validating students’ identities with keystroke dynamics, an innovative behavioral-based technology.

The need for proctoring

Believe it or not, more than 70% of all test takers admitted to having cheated at one point in their academic careers. As such, making sure that the student doing the work is actually the one registered in the course is the first step institutions can take to lower the likelihood of rampant academic misconduct and dishonesty among students. 

For both face-to-face and remote learning and examination programs, the introduction of proctoring and identity validation methods is crucial in order to authenticate the identities of online students and to ensure students take exams without cheating.

Student identity validation aka authentication

Identity proofing can be done using webcams for facial recognition against student IDs such as passports or driving licenses. But it can also be done through the deployment of less intrusive technologies such as behavioral biometrics, which looks at the way students interact with their devices to confirm their identities. 

In-person versus remote proctoring

In-person human invigilators are required to ensure the security of an examination during face-to-face evaluations. 

Despite the prevalence of testing and live-proctoring centers such as Pearson and Prometic, where students complete exams under the close scrutiny of an invigilator, the rise of online learning has made it nearly impossible for proctors to personally monitor every student taking an exam. Also, commercial testing centers are very expensive, and they take time to get to, which can inconvenience students.

As such, remote proctoring measures must be taken into consideration. However, having a live exam invigilator monitor the online session comes with significant challenges.

Challenges of online human proctoring:

  • Human error can be found in both traditional face-to-face and online proctoring methods regardless of training, auditing, and oversight measures.
  • The inefficiency of human proctoring because the proctor has to watch a maximum of approximately six to eight students simultaneously.
  • Scalability is difficult for any organization, regardless of whether they serve thousands or millions of exams a year. Distributing proctoring responsibilities in an effective way requires an unsustainable and costly number of proctor-employees and work hours to overcome examination volumes.
  • Wait time is associated with bad customer service, a challenge that includes the time a student spends connecting with a remote proctor, undergoing authentication, and proving they have a secure computing environment.
  • Bandwidth, availability, and stability are other major issues in online human proctoring.

Automated proctoring

Instead of diluting the course requirements by eliminating an exam or replacing them with projects or papers, institutions can use technology, AI, and automated proctoring systems to overcome the shortcomings of physical human-proctoring. 

Automated proctoring is usually done throughout exams or courses by an AI which monitors students and flags suspicious behavior. 

The benefits of automatic proctoring are as follows:

  • It’s robust and scalable as it allows schools and universities to ensure the fairness of exams efficiently to a wide number of students.
  • It’s accessible as it broadens students’ study options, making education more open, more accessible, and more flexible.
  • It’s cost-effective and provides a competitive advantage in the increasingly internationalized world of higher education. It’s an alternative option that meshes with today’s technology footprint. 

Student identity validation with keystroke dynamics

Keystroke dynamics, also known as typing biometrics, is a behavioral biometrics tool that works by analyzing the unique rhythms and cadence of keypress events as students type a given phrase. The wide availability of keyboards ensures typing as the most accessible biometric on the market, especially as one typing pattern sample holds only 1KB, requiring a low bandwidth internet connection.

Find out more about TypingDNA’s solution and how it can be integrated into an eLearning student identity validation scenario in our latest whitepaper, Student identity validation with keystroke dynamics.

Student identity validation with keystroke dynamics

COVID-19 is disrupting education so we made our API free

School closures have been made in over 50 countries around the world over the last month in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has impacted the education of more than 1.5 billion children and youth.

To help with exam proctoring and students’ remote authentication, we are giving schools and universities our typing biometrics authentication API service for free within their learning management platforms. Our technology allows students to prove their identities by simply typing a short text on their keyboards. Learn more and apply here.