In today’s increasingly globalized society, borders are no longer a barrier for organizations to find the best talent to fit their needs. Multinational corporations seek candidates across the globe, and with increased high-speed internet access in rural locations, employees can live further from their employers’ offices than ever before.
A 2017 Gallup report shows more employees are working remotely more of the time. Data show that in 2012, 39 percent of employees spent at least some of their time working in a location different from that of their coworkers. In four years, that number grew to 43 percent.
As with the challenge of accommodating an increasingly remote and geographically diverse workforce, some credentialing organizations face the challenge of meeting candidates in a variety of different environments. These credentialing bodies are trying to find new sectors, geographic areas and audiences to target with their credentials. This can create a challenge of access to the examination process. For some, broadening access to their examinations may be necessary.
Remote proctoring can address this challenge. Often perceived as a new trend, this approach has been around for more than a decade and has evolved significantly since its inception.
While this article does not seek to resolve the testing center vs. remote proctoring debate, for those organizations considering this delivery method, there are some key questions to review. Further, while accreditation under ISO 17024 has been achieved by some organizations using remote proctoring, it should be noted that to date, no organization has yet achieved NCCA accreditation using remote proctoring as the examination delivery method.*
Organizations should consider at least these four things when investigating potential delivery using remote proctoring:
1. Are there benefits to remote proctoring for your organization?
If aiming to grant greater access and convenience to your credentialing program and increasing your organization’s geographic reach, remote proctoring could benefit your organization and the candidates taking the exam.
By allowing candidates to take tests at any time and from any place, certification opportunities can become available to an entirely new audience. Having to travel to a testing center creates an additional burden and may even eliminate qualified candidates.
Regardless, as organizations consider this delivery method, it is essential to set and state these goals, as well as how success will be measured. For example:
- If the objective is to gain access to new sectors, understanding market share in these sectors could be an ideal measure.
- If candidate satisfaction is the goal, measuring changes in satisfaction and candidate Net Promoter Score could be an appropriate metrics.
2. What is the candidate experience with remote proctoring?
Remote proctoring is often a new experience for candidates in certain industries. In addition to the stress of studying for weeks—if not months—to pass their exam, a candidate is faced with a new modality of testing. That should not be taken lightly.
The level of comfort and anxiety varies greatly among candidates. Some candidates are comfortable with new technology and are positive about their ability to complete the test from their homes or offices. Others, however, may experience discomfort and higher anxiety simply due to being unfamiliar with the remote proctoring user experience.
Given this anxiety, setting clear, detailed expectations and providing a video demonstration of the complete user experience may increase the likelihood of a satisfactory test delivery experience. The upside is that some candidates may find the overall experience of not having to travel to a testing center to test in an unfamiliar environment may actually reduce some of the anxiety associated with testing.
An organization considering remote proctoring delivery should consider customer service skills of remote proctors when weighing the benefits. Remote proctors should be skilled at observing candidates and walking them through the testing experience while deftly assuaging their fears. Credentialing organizations should also consider proctor-candidate ratios used by the provider when assessing this delivery method, to ensure customer service is appropriately provided.
3. What happens if a candidate experiences technical issues during the exam?
It may go without saying that technology introduces complexity to certification programs. Candidates can use a variety of equipment, software, and operating systems to take their tests. This flexibility creates additional complexities in terms of support and introduces the requirement that tests be delivered across a wide range of various hardware and software components. The remote proctoring provider should provide a minimum requirement check to ensure candidate’s system meets minimum hardware, software, and connectivity requirements, which should ensure sufficient consistency between administrations.
Credentialing organizations should ensure they understand how candidates who experience technical issues during delivery will be serviced, as well as how common issues will be resolved. This includes candidates losing their internet connection during the exam, the most common technical issue. Further, it is also important to define how candidates will be checked in again once they are reconnected, such as doing a new room scan and re-verifying identification.
4. How will candidate privacy be protected?
A final question is how candidate privacy is considered by the remote proctoring provider:
- First, jurisdictional regulations must be met, particularly those concerning video and audio in the area. This is most notable given new regulations, such as GDPR in the European Union and the newly passed California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (set to take effect in 2020).
- Second, credentialing organizations should consider what access the remote proctoring provider has to their candidate’s computers during the testing process. Some providers use remote access into the candidate’s machine, which can cause a variety of different privacy concerns, and surprise candidates whose computers are accessed by remote proctors. Ideally, by walking through common technical issues and providing candidates with resolution paths, such access should not be necessary.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of considerations when weighing the pros and cons of implementing remote proctoring to your credentialing experience. But, once you ask and answer some of these questions, your organization can pinpoint whether remote credentialing could be a good fit.
*Editor’s Note: The NCCA has formed a sub-committee to review and outline standards that require evidence for remote proctoring and is exploring next steps as it relates to the review and assessment of the evidence.