A U.S. firm called Software Secure has developed a program designed to let students take exams at home with certain features built in to keep test takers honest. At least one college in Britain, the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, is buying into the glass half full software, at least on a trial basis.
The obvious concern here is how do you curb cheating, and there are a number of features Software Secure has implemented to safeguard against unscrupulous test taking techniques. To begin, students will need to provide a fingerprint to ensure no one else is taking the test for them. After that, the software puts a virtual lock on the use of all files and the Internet. And finally, audio and video are part of the package, so the teacher can still see and hear and what the student is up to, or at least what's visible in the webcam.
"It would be one solution to problems faced by those who might have difficulty reaching a university campus for exams," a spokesman said. "However it must not be used as an excuse to further cut costs or corners by reducing the amount of contact time students have with staff."