From Local To Global: Investing In E-Learning Technology
While E-learning has improved access to education and made it easier for people to gain useful skills that will enrich their livelihood, the multi-billion dollar testing market seeks ways to validate that learning through new technology, and it's crying out for innovation and investment.
Most recent college students are familiar with computer-based testing scenarios. But if it's been a while, here's the situation. A computer-based exam generally takes place one of two ways:
- Live Proctored Testing Center - Whether it's a mid-term/final exam for a college course or a professional certification test, the student travels to a physical location where they take the exam in a room along with other testers while being monitored by proctors. This process is time-consuming and requires travel, dedicated facilities, equipment, and consequently great expense.
- Online Testing - In the other typical scenario, the student takes the exam online. If it's an important exam (as mentioned above), the student is monitored via the webcam on their computer or laptop to ensure they aren't cheating. This system, however, is far from foolproof. The typical webcam has a narrow enough field of view that testers have learned how to circumvent this type of proctoring. Consequently, it's not secure enough for most major exams and professional certification tests. And those types of tests are the ones most critical to validating the student's learning or training.
So what does this mean for the value of E-Learning and access to education? It means that although online learning is becoming more accessible, the meaningful verification of that learning that will lead to academic achievement or professional growth is still in desperate need of ways to make the testing process more efficient. If solutions aren't found, the learners who need it most may remain left behind in a world demanding more and more from those who wish to earn a living and prosper. So how does the market transform local solutions for certified testing into global ones?
New Computer-based Testing Solutions
Let's be clear. The market is well aware of the problem, and it's being taken quite seriously. Computer-based testing is currently a 42 billion dollar industry worldwide1. Massive amounts of money are being poured into this market, and with online student enrollments growing for more than 14 consecutive years now2, new solutions are becoming critically important.
One possibility for improving the security of remote testing online is the use of AI. There are a few tech companies currently developing artificial intelligence systems for recognizing patterns of behavior consistent with cheating. The proposed value here is that the testing platform can recognize likely cheaters, and their exam can be further reviewed before the results are certified. AI is becoming increasingly useful for processing many mundane or historically human-intensive tasks, and if these companies succeed, they could help the current online testing methods become more accurate.
But there is a caveat or two to this kind of solution. Developing reliable and accurate AI is an expensive undertaking and is by nature a learning process that works toward replicating human observation, information processing, and decision making. Companies working on artificial intelligence solutions for remote test proctoring are going to need a great deal of time and money to prove to the market that their software is effective and trustworthy. And, in the end, if the software recognizes cheating behavior, it will almost certainly still require human review.
A Super-powered Human Solution For Remote Proctoring
If artificial intelligence is, at best, an expensive but helpful adjunct to conventional remote proctoring methods that require human monitoring, then what about bringing innovation directly to the remote proctoring environment itself? If AI solutions truly emerge, they could only perform that much better if there is more observable input to work with. And, in the meantime, wouldn't it make sense to try to find ways for remote proctors to gain a more complete view of the testing environment? After all, the bottom line is what the market will accept as an alternative to a live testing center, and professional certification bodies have broadly demonstrated that they trust human proctoring above all else.
That's the approach Proctor360, a tech startup based in the Washington DC area, has taken. They've developed a surprisingly innovative and straightforward solution: a 360° video & audio monitoring platform for remote test proctoring. The idea is simple but completely untapped in the online testing market - use 360° camera hardware in conjunction with special test software that accesses the exam without the ability of the test-taker to open any other windows or browser tabs during the process to allow proctors to remotely monitor the testing environment-- providing 100% human verification of a secure, unaided test experience. Further, the platform records and archives the testing video, audio, and screen capture for future review should any questions or concerns arise.
A Startup With A Real Solution For This 42 Billion Dollar Industry
Though 360° cams have been adapted to many online video applications in recent years, no remote proctoring service has yet leveraged this kind of hardware-- until now. Proctor360 has developed their own proprietary headset which incorporates a 360° high def camera, a mic for audio monitoring, and a speaker for communicating with the test-taker remotely. Their business model involves the test candidate being shipped the headset once they've registered for their exam, using it along with Proctor360's testing software to take the exam while the testing environment is monitored remotely, and then returning the headset once testing is complete. It's a kind of Netflix for remote testing in that sense, and it will allow online learners and trainees to take any exam from anywhere in the world.
Professional certification bodies are likely to take extreme interest in this kind of solution. It provides the total reliability of secure, live proctoring with the cost-savings and convenience of online testing. And because their 360° headset is currently patent pending, that may bode extremely well for Proctor360. They've developed prototypes of the product as a proof-of-concept, and they're poised to capture a substantial portion of that 42 billion dollar industry. With no other remote testing service currently offering anything like this, it's a good time to be taking a close look at this company.
Proctor360 is a startup in the seed funding stage, but they've already developed working prototypes and have begun engaging with industry partners to develop relationships for the product's launch. They're currently seeking investment through an SEC-regulated Title III offering on StartEngine in order to raise capital for manufacturing the final product and bringing it to market. On Thursday February 28, they'll be conducting a "soft launch" event that they'll be streaming live where they'll be demonstrating how the product works for potential industry partners and investors.
The Value Of Investing In E-Learning
Assume for a moment that you could invest in a tech startup in any industry. There are a lot of baskets looking for more eggs, but a smart investor will be looking for industries with consistent growth and products that offer immediately useful solutions to take advantage of that growth. The global E-Learning market is currently worth an estimated 91 billion dollars3, and as mentioned above, it's growing. As the E-Learning market grows as a whole, so too does the need (currently a 42 billion dollar need) for new computer-based solutions that provide meaningful validation of those students' new skills.
An Online Public Offering like Proctor360's allows investors to get in on the ground floor of a company that is poised to deliver such solutions and share in their potential success at an early stage. For non-accredited investors, a Reg CF Title III offering is a rare opportunity to invest in a startup like this at all, and that kind of value can't be ignored. When new solutions come to market, investors wishing to enjoy exponential returns have to be able to recognize the potential for success and make an investment at an early stage. Proctor360 has developed a product that takes live exam proctoring from a local solution to a global one, and that's the kind of opportunity startup investors should be looking for.
1,3: Online Proctoring / Remote Invigilation – Soon a Multibillion Dollar Market within eLearning & Assessment: LearningLight.com (2019)
2: Online Course Enrollment Sees Relentless Growth: CampusTechnology.com (2018)
Scott Crumpler is a startup advisor for Proctor360, and they are currently seeking investment from accredited and non-accredited investors through their Online Public Offering. View the complete details and make an investment in this growing market.