Keeping 'em honest: Test-taking technology
When educators think about the technology they need, they often think about systems that will affect the way they deliver course content. But for education technology company B Virtual, edu-tech products should also facilitate another important area in student learning -- examinations. To that end, the company offers proctoring solutions designed to maintain academic integrity for students taking courses online.
Tim Dewey, the company's chief operating officer, explains the impact of B Virtual's education technology solutions, and discusses important issues in the edu-tech field.
What contributions has your company made to the educational technology field with the products and services you provide?
B Virtual offers live online proctoring to institutions, schools and organizations that require a secure examination program. Our solution's technology platform creates a secure connection between our online proctors and the students taking exams. We use Bomgar as our core technology to deliver this service.
How have your company's contributions made a difference in educational technology?
Educators can use our innovative technology platform to focus on the delivery of quality content, while our organization validates and secures the examination process for students who want to learn from home.
All levels of academia should embrace available technology platforms, including Bomgar's, to present and manage learning experiences more efficiently. Bomgar offers the unique opportunity to utilize screen sharing and presentation options for collaborative learning. Bomgar also provides the means to share learning experiences by inviting learners and educators into single learning environments digitally.
As learning becomes more digitized, educators will need the availability of ease-of-use technologies that offer transparent access to students and learners. The use of Bomgar by B Virtual exemplifies how educators can directly access and provide support to students actively taking online exams.
How has your organization made a difference in education and the learning outcomes of students?
We have a 91 percent satisfaction rating for our online proctored exams. Students are more successful when taking their exams in a quiet, secure location, rather than a crowded and noisy classroom or proctored facility.
In addition to products and services, what contributions has your company made in the edu-tech field?
B Virtual often speaks at association meetings about the need for authentication and integrity-based learning. This includes ways to ensure that all students are successfully qualified in their fields of study.
What is a challenge faced by the education system and student learning?
Current statistics show online learning in higher education is growing by more than 18 percent per year while traditional, brick-and-mortar learning is flatlining or declining. With this transformation, and the addition of online learning through K-12 charter schools, more educators will use technology as their primary educational tool.
Most school districts and institutions are not equipped to understand the technology available to them. This results in limited funding for technology that produces little return on learning investment. Educational administrators should understand the available commercial technologies and invest in them to meet the needs of learners, regardless of age.
What trends have you observed in the educational technology field?
Today, distance learning dominates as an education platform. From K-12 charter schools to higher education, distance learning is quickly becoming a viable option for any learner worldwide. In addition, the massive open online course era, or MOOC, is now here. The combination of online education, free online education through an MOOC provider, and the quality of such programs presents great challenges and opportunities for educators. By using technology platforms, within the next decade a student can complete college level courses, earn credits, and learn online from prestigious faculty throughout the world, at little or no cost, from the comfort of their home.
How will these trends affect education as a whole?
As digital replaces traditional brick and mortar as the primary delivery of learning, a balance of quality and impact will have to be determined. Even today, obvious advances, such as Google, mean young learners are wired differently. Their need to learn in a traditional classroom setting has already been replaced, as K-12 educators begin to use online learning to supplement their existing curriculum.
What are some important historical milestones in education technology?
Educators should be aware of three important historical milestones in education technology. The first is the digitization of learning, known as rapid eLearning development. Rapid eLearning moves print content quickly to online or web-based platforms, allowing faculty to supplement learning by converting their physical learning assets to digital form.
The second is accessibility and collaboration. One-to-many is the core concept in brick-and-mortar learning. That same approach to sharing learning can be accomplished digitally. Third is the measurement and validation of learning principles. Technology allows educators to ensure learning objectives are met through qualitative assessments, by validating them through testing in authentic environments.
How did these milestones affect education and student learning?
The primary result of advances in technology is accessibility. The reality that a third-grade educator can teach students in the classroom, sitting at home, or anywhere in the world, is now possible. Geographical limitations are literally removed should that teacher have special expertise, or speak on a topic that has broad value.
The learning experience has extended beyond the classroom's four walls. The core premise of a book published a few years ago, "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman, was that technology had reduced or eliminated real and perceived views of how to do business globally. Education stands at those same crossroads, as learning is no longer "flat," but instead far reaching and collaborative.
What do you think will happen in the educational technology field in the future?
Educators who embrace technology as the center of learning can become leaders in knowledge exchange. Utilizing technology solutions can broaden their reach so they educate deeper and wider, providing more cohesion to the learning process. Educators have a unique opportunity to combine their knowledge and experience with available technology to provide a comprehensive learning experience.
How will these future trends affect education as a whole?
A digital learning center where students from anywhere in the world will share knowledge and information to grow in a more expansive "learning eco-system" will replace the traditional classroom.
What are currently the most important ideologies in educational technology?
Transparency and collaboration through digital learning must be core ideologies for any technology solution afforded to education today.
Why are these ideologies important?
Learning can no longer be viewed as "flat." There cannot be perceived barriers to learning by educators. Technology must be a facilitator, rather than an inhibitor, to learning. By focusing on technology as the center of learning, rather than just a "tool," educators can focus on delivering learning in a broader, more efficient way, without losing quality.
What are your thoughts about these ideologies?
Transparent access to knowledge and collaboration through the learning process are central elements to this and future generations of learners. Traditional classroom learning is no longer a viable option given the way children are wired digitally today. Studies already indicate students learn in vastly different ways, and we have to accommodate those ways through the technology available to us.