The shift from physical test centres to virtual ones has given birth to new opportunities, but with them come new (and rapidly developing) challenges. One such challenge is maintaining the integrity of online exams and preventing cheating with AI. With easy access to numerous resources, students may find unethical ways to cheat during online exams. The use of AI tools such as ChatGPT to provide answers during an exam is one such concerning issue.
In our last blog, we told you about AI detection, which is vital, but an oft realised challenge is that there is a time delay between detecting and recording a candidate using ChatGPT, and action against said candidate. At that point, your exam is already compromised. If humans checking the reports don’t catch it, an unqualified candidate has not only cheated but also gotten away with it, and your exams and qualifications are weaker for it.
Within an e-assessment system there are a few features to look out for that stop candidates from cheating altogether. Let’s have a look at what to keep your eye out for when looking for a platform that shuts cheating with AI down.
Safe Exam Browser
Safe exam browsers have been around for nearly as long as online exams themselves. In response to these AI cheating challenges, educational institutions have continued using safe exam browsers, also known as lockdown browsers, to maintain the credibility of online examinations. This feature also helps the candidate: Passing exams should be a testament to a candidate’s genuine knowledge and skills, serving as a stepping stone in their career path. If they resort to cheating, not only does it tarnish their credibility, but it could also have long-term implications, especially in professions that hinge on trust and integrity. A safe exam browser does just this in removing the temptation and ability to cheat altogether by locking them in a safe testing environment.
A full-screen mode is activated when using SEB, preventing users from switching to other apps, websites, or accessing banned online resources. It blocks access to unauthorised resources like messaging apps, search engines, notes, and other forms of assistance. The safe exam browser creates a ‘locked’ testing environment for online exams. It modifies the computer’s functionality during the exam, ‘locking’ down the system until the student submits the exam for grading.
How can a Safe Exam Browser Prevent Cheating with AI?
Safe Exam Browser can effectively prevent such AI cheating in the following ways:
Restricting Internet Access
When activated, Safe Exam Browser limits the browser’s capabilities, allowing it only to visit specific web addresses that the instructor or institution approves. This function can prevent students from accessing AI tools like ChatGPT during the exam.
Disabling Task Switching
SEB can disable the ability to switch between different tasks on a computer. It means students can’t open a new tab or another application during the exam. This feature restricts access to AI software or platforms.
Restricting Copy-Paste Function
Safe exam browsers often disable the copy-paste function. It makes it harder for students to paste exam questions into an AI tool and then copy the generated answers back into the exam.
Live Online Proctoring
Another feature in the line of defense against cheating with AI is remote proctoring – a technology-enabled method to supervise online assessments in real-time. The process involves a real person monitoring the candidate’s video feed, screen activity, and audio output to detect any suspicious behaviour that could indicate cheating.
How Does Live Online Proctoring Work?
In a live online proctoring setup, the test-taker’s computer is connected to the proctoring software via the internet. This software will connect the candidate with a real human proctor that then monitors the candidate’s behaviour through the webcam and microphone.
The proctor begins their work as soon as the student logs in to take the exam. They verify the student’s identity, usually through a photo ID check. The candidate may also be asked to do a 360-degree scan of their work environment to ensure no unauthorised material is within reach, and the candidate is alone in their testing environment.
During the exam, both the test-taker’s is monitored, and any suspicious activity, such as looking away from the screen frequently, trying to access banned resources, or unusual noise, will trigger immediate human intervention.
The benefits of remote proctoring in preventing AI cheating
Remote proctoring enables live monitoring of the test-taker’s desktop screen and surroundings. Any suspicious activities, such as rapid typing or switching windows to access a chatbot like ChatGPT, can be easily detected in real-time. The presence of a human proctor is an added layer of deterrent of cheating on exams.
Proctors can perform checks before the exam, asking the candidate to turn their webcam around the entire testing environment and allowing them to look at candidates’ physical surroundings, their person, and their devices to ensure they aren’t hiding any cheat sheets or unauthorised devices.
The proctor will be able to see what the candidate is doing on-screen, so if they wanted to switch tabs to ChatGPT to write an essay question, or use an AI app to solve a mathematical question, the proctor, equipped with a microphone, could promptly intervene and issue a warning. Depending on the policies of the organisation, such a transgression could lead to immediate disqualification and expulsion from the program – an outcome no smart candidate would dare to risk.
Speaking of actions needed to promote honesty, in our next section we will be exploring how fostering a culture of integrity, coupled with swift punishments for those cheating with AI like ChatGPT can help maintain honesty in your organisation.
Cultivating a culture of honesty
While safe exam browsers and remote proctoring are a helpful and essential tool in preventing academic dishonesty, it’s equally important to promote a culture of integrity and honesty among your organisation. After all, the essence of education lies not just in scoring high marks but in the comprehensive development of an individual.
Here are some helpful tips for fostering an honest culture within your organisation:
Start with leadership
The importance of establishing a zero-tolerance policy for cheating starts at the top. Leaders should model the behaviours they want to see, demonstrating personal integrity and fairness in their decisions and actions. This involves being transparent with communication, owning up to mistakes, and treating everyone with respect. By leading by example, leaders can inspire similar values to the rest of their organisation.
Develop a Clear Code of Ethics
A clear and well-communicated code of ethics is essential to developing a culture of integrity. This document should outline the organisation’s expectations regarding honesty and ethical behaviour, including specific policies on cheating during exams. It should be crystal clear that cheating will not be tolerated and such actions will have severe consequences.
Provide Ethics Training
Ethics training can help your organisation understand what is considered cheating and the importance of maintaining integrity during exams. Workshops, seminars, or online courses can provide scenarios and examples, enhancing understanding and providing practical strategies for maintaining ethical behaviour.
Foster an open and trusting environment
An open and trusting environment encourages employees to act with integrity. This involves creating a space where employees feel comfortable discussing concerns or reporting instances of cheating without fear of retribution. Regular team meetings, open-door policies, and anonymous reporting mechanisms can foster this environment.
Recognise and reward ethical behaviour
Recognition can be a powerful motivator. Acknowledging and rewarding employees and candidates demonstrating honesty and integrity signals these behaviours are valued. This recognition can take many forms, such as public acknowledgements, awards, or promotions.
With the ease and accessibility of online exams comes the increased potential for cheating with AI. However, as technology propels these challenges, it also offers innovative solutions. Features such as lockdown browsers and remote proctoring provide practical ways to mitigate AI cheating, but technology can only go so far. It is equally important to cultivate a culture of honesty and integrity within our organisations, which begins with leadership, is cemented by a clear code of ethics, and is nurtured by open communication and recognition of ethical behaviour. So, while we leverage technology to uphold the integrity of online examinations, let’s remember to instil values that ensure the spirit of education remains intact. After all, an honest and principled individual is the true outcome of a successful organisation.