A team of developers at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) developed a new Invigilator app to maintain the integrity of examinations during the pandemic. In practice, the Invigilator performs a similar function to proctoring apps that have been deployed elsewhere, insofar as it gives the school a way to ensure that the right person is sitting for a remote exam.
However, the developers felt that they needed to develop their own app because many of the existing ones would not have been an option in the South African market. In that regard, they noted that most of the apps that are available elsewhere assume that the student taking the exam has access to a stable internet connection and a laptop with a certain minimum processing capabilities.
UJ simply could not guarantee those conditions in a country with less robust digital infrastructure, and in which many students only have access to a smartphone. They therefore set out to build a proctoring app that could function within those limitations.
The result was the Invigilator, which uses a combination of GPS tracking and facial recognition to protect the examination process. The location data ensures that the student is taking the exam in the proper place, and that students are not in close proximity to one another during the test. Facial recognition, meanwhile, is used for identity verification. Students are asked to take a selfie on their smartphone at random times during the test, and facial recognition matches that selfie (with liveness detection) to a photo already on file.
The fact that the selfies are random guarantees that the student must be present for the duration of the test. By the same token, the app uses the phone’s microphone to take audio recordings at random times to make sure that students are not talking to one another (and sharing answers) out of view of the camera.
The app will notify administrators if a selfie does not seem to match the test taker, giving them an opportunity to review the incident. The developers have also added additional tools to the app to give it utility beyond the pandemic. For example, the app now gives students access to their school’s management systems. The UJ team also believes that the app will help schools meet the growing demand for virtual learning options.
The Invigilator app was developed in mid-2020, and has already been deployed at 10 tertiary institutions in South Africa. The app is built to run on entry-level smartphones to make sure that every student can reap the benefits of the service.
Source: Business Day
June 14, 2022 – by Eric Weiss