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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC system’s online exam practices honored

The UNC system will be awarded for its proctoring system created to standardize online exams across the system this month.

The UNC system received the award from the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education’s Cooperative for Educational Technologies, which advocates for technology use in higher education.

“The old system made it very complicated,” said Maggie O’Hara, director of e-learning at the UNC-system General Administration. “Traditionally, students would be asked to come to a campus and take the test, but we realized this might not work out for all lifestyles.”

In cases when online students could not make it to campus for a final exam, students had to personally find a proctor — who could be a librarian or tutor from companies like Sylvan Learning — and approve it with the administration, O’Hara said.

The system required several back-and-forth emails between students, faculty and proctors to determine scheduling and the proctor’s eligibility.

Now, faculty and students no longer have to personally find a proctor but are able to select from a pool of preapproved proctors through UNC Online.These proctors can then download the tests online and schedule testing with the student individually, allowing the UNC system to bypass the complex back-and-forth dialogue that was becoming a hassle for faculty.

Other universities across the country are now considering implementing the UNC system’s model, O’Hara said.

According to a press release, UNC-system campuses offer 328 online programs — 214 of which are degree or degree-completion programs often used by students who have transferred or only partially completed their education.

“The number of courses offered has increased as more and more nontraditional students are being enrolled,” O’Hara said. “Obviously we want to match the needs of the people in the state and move North Carolina forward in the global economy. There are thousands of people who have some college education, but have not finished. We want to help those people.”

But despite the trend toward more online degree programs in the state, UNC-CH does not use UNC Online.

“(Implementation of) online programs are up to the individual departments,” said Laurie Cochenour, e-learning policy coordinator for UNC-CH. “They are mostly found in our graduate programs, like the MBA and public health programs, but there aren’t many for undergraduate degrees.”

Online programs are not increasing at UNC-CH, because of a lack of demand and funding in that area at the University, she said.

“We don’t use the proctoring system,” she said. “Chapel Hill is a very traditional campus and learning environment.”

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