How Ole Miss Selected an Online Proctoring Solution

When the pandemic caused universities to shift to online instruction, the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”) had to swiftly reimagine what classrooms and assessments looked like in a fully online environment. They hurried to find an online proctoring solution – ultimately selecting three – and made the move to remote learning along with thousands of other universities around the world.

In-person classes resumed at Ole Miss in 2021 but many instructors wanted to continue using remote proctoring technology for their exams. In order to streamline costs and unify the experience across campus, they decided to standardize on a proctoring solution.

A committee was formed and the final recommendation was to use LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor as their exam integrity solution. Jinny Hurdle, Director of Testing Services at University of Mississippi describes the factors that led to this decision.

Easy implementation for instructors and students

Ole Miss wanted an exam integrity solution that worked seamlessly with their learning system, supported the full range of devices (Windows, macOS, iOS and Chromebook), and required minimal training and support. To that end, “LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor met this need and more,” Hurdle said.

Instructors access exam settings, proctoring results, exam videos and training materials from within the LMS itself. After a one-time installation for students, the proctoring system automatically launches when an exam requires it.

Faculty and students want flexibility

The selection committee at Ole Miss also liked how the Respondus technology supports the many ways faculty give assessments.

Some instructors want students to take online exams in the classroom using LockDown Browser, while others prefer students to go to the testing center where LockDown Browser is also used. Oftentimes, students are permitted to take exams from a remote location, such as their home, where both LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor are used.

“The flexibility it gives to students is well received,” Hurdle said.

Student privacy was a priority

The committee recommending an exam integrity solution for Ole Miss placed student privacy as a high priority. This decision seems to have paid off.

“We’ve had fewer privacy concerns from students with the Respondus system compared to other proctoring platforms we tried,” Hurdle said. “We further address privacy concerns by having seats available for students within our testing labs at each of our campuses. So, if students don’t want to take a remote test in their own environment, they’re welcome to book seats here.”

Overall, Hurdle said Ole Miss students like having the ability to take exams remotely.

Free training and support

A key advantage of standardizing on a single proctoring solution is that it reduces training and the on-campus knowledge required to support it. That was attractive to Ole Miss. Training videos and resources are available within Respondus Monitor itself, and students have access to Respondus support agents via a 24/7 live chat system.

“It’s also important to recognize that faculty don’t often have time to attend a training session, so the solution itself must be intuitive,” she said. “Respondus Monitor is very intuitive, so not a lot of training is needed.”

Cost-efficiency matters

Hurdle said the committee was insistent that costs for remote proctoring not be passed along to students.

“Prior to the pandemic, when students needed to use remote proctoring, it would cost them anywhere from $18 to $40 per test,” she said. “That can get pricey for students, and we don’t want them to bear that burden.”

Ole Miss eventually acquired an unlimited license for LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor. This enables faculty to use the technology in a wide range of environments and scenarios, without affecting the price to the university. “You need a pricing model where you know what the cost will be regardless of volume of use,” she said.

Needless to say, with all the progress that’s occurred since the pandemic, the university doesn’t Miss the Ole days. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Photo credit: Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications