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商业 - 科技

网络考试防作弊里的商机

Erika Fry 2013年11月15日

网络课程和网络考试越来越多,靠人力来防范舞弊行为也越来越困难,甚至变得不可能。多亏智能感应软件出手,网上测试作弊的人才无处遁形,而嗅觉灵敏的公司也从中嗅到了金钱的味道。

    美国的教育界已经迎来大规模开放网络课程(MOOC)风起云涌的时代,网上考试作弊现象也由此前所未有地猖獗起来。在电脑操控的世界,想呼唤万能的谷歌(Google)搜索引擎,也不过就是轻轻几下敲击的距离。那么,网络课堂的督导者们要怎样管理遍布各地的学员大军?要是管理众多学员的有效方法还无法确定,就更别提怎样扑灭作弊者在整个互联网世界燃起的熊熊大火了。

    当然,上述问题用科技手段就能解决。利用网络摄像头和检测抄袭的软件提供学监服务也不是新生事物,这个产业已有多年的根底。一家总部位于印度的业内初创公司Mettl已经杀入美国,入驻硅谷。虽说在搜捕作弊者方面只是“新人”,但Mettl拥有以计算机程式为依托的自动化技术,还自豪地声称,它捕获作弊者方式比传统做法更老到,甚至堪称万无一失。当然,有一条基本原则我们不该忘记:如果你想在参加网上考试时玩什么鬼把戏,你应试的电脑就会出卖你。

    作为一家从事网上评估测试的公司,Mettl将多种技术融入了自家的测试平台,至少在一场考试所需的时间内便能创造一种小型监控环境。

    具体来说,监控环境是这样形成的:一名应试者先要在Mettl网站注册,然后就能在网站的考题库里挑选预先上传到网站的测试题。面部击键识别技术可以确认注册的应试者是否就是他们自称的那个人。不论是在应试者注册时网络摄像头拍下的应试者信息,还是整个考试期间透过电脑显示屏留下的应试者信息,系统都会悉数记录。

    Mettl的技术可以利用应试者的摄像头监测到其中有多少人在使用电脑,很快就会追踪应试者的眼球移动。凭借这种有效的追踪,这家公司的技术可以感知应试者是否在注视屏幕以外的地方。如当真应试者视线持续停留在显示屏外,那可能意味着应试者在偷偷地用智能手机上网查询,或者是在向朋友咨询。Mettl还会监视应试者的显示屏,如果应试者切换了页面或者改变了浏览器,或是退出测试,Mettl也都能监测到。系统会迅速记录应试者一方传来的说话声音,这样就能监测到应试者是在与别人交谈,还是有人在给应试者支招。

    一旦监测到任何不正常的现象,系统会标示出现异常事件,并向主考官汇报。结果可大可小,全视测试方的要求而定:可能一有发现异常便终止所有人考试作答,可能只是对出现应试者异常表现的显示屏发出警告,甚至通过网络摄像头人为干预。所有这些对策都由Mettl的控制中心指挥。

    Mettl联合创始人兼首席执行官克坦•卡普尔指出,即使仅仅是作弊被抓的威胁也产生了很大的震慑作用。2010年,卡普尔与曾任全球管理咨询公司波士顿咨询公司(BCG)顾问的老朋友塔莫伊•辛格哈尔成立了这家公司。当时两人都认识到,印度受教育的年轻国民人数激增,接受网络教育的国民也在增加,这正是一个商机。

    在众多领域之中,他们发现技术可能给予最大助力的是哪个领域?答案就是考试。在印度,与就业招聘和职业认证有关的国家考试不计其数。卡普尔和辛格哈尔也意识到,管理大量考试现在就已经是一项繁重的任务,而随着应试者人数增加,这项任务只会变得越来越沉重。

    如今,全球200家企业和大学都在使用这家新生代公司的平台、监督及服务,他们大多来自印度。知名咨询公司埃森哲(Accenture)、软件公司Cognizant和国际四大会计师事务所之一的毕马威(PricewaterhouseCoopers)都是Mettl的客户。

    Mettl希望,此次美国的处女秀将有助于公司闯入这个国家庞大的招聘与MOOC市场。Mettl公司现有员工50名,已募得资金450万美元,迄今为止发展势头良好。它成立至今已经监督测评逾百万次,预计今年营业收入将达到“几百万”美元。(财富中文网)

    译者:若离      

    Now that American education has entered the era of the MOOC -- the Massive Open Online Course -- the opportunity for cheating appears greater than ever. The omniscient Google search engine is never more than a few keystrokes away for the computer-bound. So how can a proctor possibly manage the far-flung multitudes, let alone smoke out cheaters taking tests across the Internet?

    Using technology, of course. While proctoring services via webcam and plagiarism-detecting software have been around for several years now, an India-based startup has come to America -- Silicon Valley, obviously -- with automated, algorithm-based techniques for netting cheaters that the company claims are even more sophisticated and foolproof. Essentially, if you try to pull a fast one, your computer will rat you out.

    The online assessment company Mettl has incorporated a handful of technologies into its test-taking platform, creating, for the duration of an exam at least, a mini-surveillance state.

    Here's how it works: A test-taker signs on to Mettl and selects his/her exam from the site's library of pre-loaded tests. Facial and keystroke recognition technology verify the person that has signed in is the person they say they are, and the system records both the test-taker (through the webcam) and the test-taker's screen throughout the test.

    Mettl's technology uses the test-taker's webcam to detect how many people are using the computer. Soon, it will track eye movement well enough to sense whether the test-taker is looking away from the screen, perhaps to consult a smartphone or a friend on the sly. Mettl also monitors the test-taker's screen and can detect when the test-taker has changed tabs or browsers or moved from the test. The system will soon be able to record sound, and thus detect whether the test-taker is talking or being talked to.

    If any irregularities are detected, the system flags the incident and reports it back to the test's administrator. This can trigger any number of things, depending on the test-giver's wishes: a complete shutdown of the exam, a warning message that appears on the test-taker's screen, even human intervention -- via webcam -- from Mettl's control center.

    Ketan Kapoor, co-founder and CEO of Mettl, notes that the mere threat of being caught serves as a great deterrent to cheating. Kapoor founded the company in 2010 with an old friend and former BCG consultant, Tonmoy Shingal, when the pair realized the opportunity presented by India's exploding population of educated youth and the growth of online education.

    Among the many areas where they found that technology could offer improvement? Assessment. In India, there are huge national tests given for job recruitment and professional certification purposes. Kapoor and Shingal saw that the considerable task of managing these mass assessments would only become bigger as the number of participants increased.

    The young company's platform and proctoring and assessment services are now used by 200 corporations and universities around the globe; most are in India, such as Accenture (ACN), Cognizant (CTSH), and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    Mettl, which has 50 employees and has raised $4.5 million in funding, is hoping its new U.S. presence will help it break into the country's sizeable recruiting and MOOC markets. It is well on its way: The company has proctored more than 1 million assessments since its launch, and projects "a few million" in revenue this year.

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