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Reduce logistics and transfer costs thanks to remote invigilation

The Santiago Business School found a solution in SMOWL to evaluate its students, avoiding spending time and money travelling to the examination centres.
24 February 2022

What does the Santiago Business School do?

After complying with the National Accreditation Commission (CNA) guidelines, the Santiago School of Commerce is the first accredited online technical training centre in Chile.

In addition to meeting these requirements, the ECS demonstrated that the online modality was not far from face-to-face when it comes to student training.

How were certifications done before SMOWL?

Before 2017, when the ECS began to provide training online, all evaluations were carried out in person in the Chilean capital: Santiago.

The students spent approximately one hour travelling to where they had to take their exams.

Moreover, this involved many logistical processes. For example, having to make use of the spaces that were intended for students who attended the institute in person, having to have staff exclusively supervise the examinees, and printing on paper the exams, which once finished, had to be taken to the teachers’ homes to be able to revise manually. Later, they had to be brought back to the institution, etc.

At a logistical level, this process was cumbersome and not very friendly for teachers and students, who had to travel from their homes to be evaluated, despite having opted for a non-face-to-face modality for their training.

Classroom for exams and reduce expenses for face-to-face evaluations

They found the solution in SMOWL to reduce costs

The ECS has been relying on the Smowltech team since 2018. Previously, the institution had the intention of expanding nationally. Still, they did not have enough locations to provide their students with a safe space and relatively close to their homes to take their exams in person.

In addition, this implied additional logistical costs, such as hiring personnel to supervise the examinees and all the elements necessary to ensure that the execution of the exams was complete and always respected the institution’s guidelines and codes of honour.

After evaluating different alternatives, the institution determined that the software developed by Smowltech was a valid option. It would immediately simplify the process, making teachers comfortable creating the exam by choosing a format suitable for applying an online evaluation.

The ECS chose the SMOWL+ plan

SMOWL is a modular solution that adapts to the needs of the client. In this case, we adjust to meet the requirements that the regulators demanded from the Santiago School of Commerce.

  • Monitoring of the student through the webcam.
  • Tracking of student computer activity.

What are the online exams like for ECS?

Below we will mention some recommendations provided by the Director of Virtual Education of the ECS for the format of the online exams:

  • Students must be evident that it is a formal evaluation that requires the same seriousness and rigour despite being carried out remotely.
  • The exams are 80% practical application and 20% general knowledge.
  • They avoid the use of multiple-choice questions.
  • Generally, the answers require a development that makes it impossible for students to answer using “copy-paste.”
  • Different types of exams are generated with completely different cases from each other. Even if two students take the exam in the same room, they will have various issues and questions.
  • Students can use other resources since the questions are of practical application.

In a nutshell, thanks to the SMOWL solution, the ECS only had to worry about the instructional design of its evaluation process, while the Smowltech team was in charge of verifying the identity of the users, ensuring that the student was the correct person.

How was the implementation of SMOWL within the ECS?

surveillance of an online examination of a woman

After a survey of students, ECS found that the implementation of SMOWL was quite friendly and straightforward, so Smowltech’s proctoring tool received a very satisfactory evaluation.

The students valued very positively that the institution could certify that their degrees were acquired by completing their entire educational program.

In other words, the SMOWL solution made it possible to certify that the students who acquired the degrees are whom they say they are and that they fulfilled all their activities in compliance with their institution’s guidelines and honour codes.

One element that implemented this tool extremely simple and friendly was the fact that the students had previously enrolled in an online modality, so:

  • They all had a computer with specific minimum software and hardware requirements.
  • They all had access to an Internet connection.
  • Implementing SMOWL would save them the cumbersome process of travelling to carry out the evaluations, saving time and much money.
  • The students were already used to doing their activities online through the Moodle LMS, so once SMOWL was 100% integrated into the platform through a simple plugin, they were ready to be assessed from home.

How to achieve proper implementation of SMOWL?

The ECS carried out a series of activities, which we now share as good practices. The institutions should replicate these practices to adequately implement the tool within their educational strategy.

  • The purpose of the formal assessment should be made clear to make students aware of the rigour of the process and why it is necessary to use a proctoring tool to verify their identity during the assessment.
  • An induction course was created within Moodle, where students can explore the characteristics and functionalities of the SMOWL tool.
  • Students were shown how to use the tool and performed mock exams in Moodle with the proctoring software activated to have the first approach with SMOWL before the official exams.
  • The institution has to provide information about the local Data Protection Law.
  • Smowltech is a company that has received funds from the European Commission. So, in addition to complying with strict standards and requirements, it also fully complies with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is currently considered the most rigorous at the global level and, from this, the rest of the regulations and legislations have been created.

What was ECS’ experience using SMOWL?

SMOWL allowed them to simulate a remote face-to-face exam’s reliability and security characteristics.

By moving the exams to an online modality, to avoid students having to travel to the evaluation centres and the other logistical expenses that this would imply, the SMOWL solution allowed them to comply with the requirements of the Commission National Accreditation (CNA) too. ECS can now validate the identity of the students during the entire online exam and allow the simultaneous supervision of his computer.

In addition to ensuring that the student was the correct person, it was also possible to obtain a history of the computer’s activity during the exam, which allowed knowing if the student was accessing other websites, applications, documents, etc.

Tips from the Santiago Business School to have a better experience with SMOWL

  1. Usually, students know the date of their exams too far in advance, so they have enough time to notify the people they live with and prevent them from using the internet. As far as possible, it is recommended to connect a cable directly to the router to have a better internet connection.
  2. By notifying the people who live with you about the dates and times of your exams, you can also avoid interruptions and distractions that can be picked up by SMOWL and generate some incidents. At the end of the evaluation, your teachers will evaluate these incidents and contact you if they require clarification.

What do ECS students love the most about SMOWL?

The tool’s flexibility allows students to give time to their academic training without neglecting their daily activities.

ECS Student Profile

  • Average age: 34 years.
  • 60% women, some of them mothers and homemakers.
  • 80% are currently working.
  • They seek a technical certification to improve their performance in their current job.
  • They are looking for an asynchronous model that allows them to dedicate time to their learning under their availability.

In fact, according to studies carried out by the same institution, it has been found that when students graduate, they obtain a better job with a better salary, conditions, and benefits. Some even manage to ascend or change positions.

That shows that access to training creates opportunities that improve people’s quality of life.

Institutions such as ECS that provide their students with the possibility of online training and certification thanks to proctoring tools such as SMOWL reduce the time and space barriers preventing users from continuing their workout without having to abandon their activities.

How do they see the future thanks to SMOWL?

Currently, the School of Commerce of Santiago is carrying out a certification process that will allow it to expand its educational offer in the online modality.

They trust that the modality will continue to grow. The institution counts on SMOWL’s proctoring solution to continue being their great strategic partner to achieve complete remote evaluation and the validation of the identity of their students.

In addition, eliminating the need to take exams in person allows the ECS to admit students throughout the country to its program. The institution currently has students training online while working in other countries worldwide, such as Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, and Haiti.

Approximately 20% of their students are foreigners, and they intend to increase this percentage in the coming cycles.

More information about the School of Commerce of Santiago

In addition to having the Technical Training Centre, the institution has a Professional Institute that offers the possibility of obtaining technical careers and professional titles.

ECS currently has 50% of its students enrolled in the online modality, with a flexible model that allows students to carry out 100% of their activities remotely, even offering the possibility of sending the degree electronically.

The ECS confirms that it is a first-rate academic institution committed to its students by putting them at the centre of its strategy.

Looking for a solution that would give greater flexibility and the possibility of avoiding transfers places them as an innovative institution and aware of its responsibility by allowing continuous training that provides better opportunities to improve the quality of life for its students.

And to conclude, it is an honour to announce that the Santiago School of Commerce has become Chile’s first accredited online technical training centre.

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