Schools use anti-cheating software in age of distance learning

Cheating on a test isn't exactly new but this school year districts have to come up with a whole new way to keep kids honest while testing from home. School districts are exploring several options.   

"When the state says ok this is what you need to focus on then we're ready to go,” says Akilah Willery who is Aldine ISD's Executive Director of Professional Learning and Technology Integration.

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Most school districts, like Aldine ISD are waiting for recommendations from the TEA to determine what type of anti-cheating tools to use as students attend school online.

"Right now what the state has put out for guidance is the Learning Management System of Schoology which just happens to be a platform we already adopted about five years ago but in the past online testing from the state has been through a different platform,” Willery explains.

So as kids work and take tests from home districts are now deciding if a Lockdown Browser will be the best way to keep kids honest. "There are different brands of Lockdown Browsers just like there's different brands of soda,” says Willery.

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"The simple way of how it works is you're going to use a specific browser from whatever company the school is using,” adds Michael Garfield The High Tech Texan.

“Once a test, a formal assessment is activated on a child's device then it locks every other browser or window,” Willery explains.

"You're not going to be able to open any other screen for some Google searches or cheating," says Garfield.

Online Proctoring, where students are watched through their computer camera is another potential anti-cheating option.

“That webcam is going to monitor your face and your voice. So nobody can impersonate you and take the test for you. It's also going to watch your eyes. It's going to watch that your eyes don't sneak down and maybe take a little peek at your phone,” Garfield says.

Exactly who would be watching?

“A teacher, a third party service.  A lot of it now is being automated too, using artificial intelligence. So they can actually check movements and eye movements,” says Garfield.

"We do make sure all of our business partners adhere to federal data privacy laws so we can make sure our kids are safe. We are taking a very active role with online safety,” says Willery.

The High Tech Texan says there are a number of reputable anti-cheating software companies that have been around for years, as some companies keep an eye on employees and as more high school and college students take tests online and Garfield says he's never heard of anyone having any safety issues.