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Written by Quintus Potgieter
Published: 27 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many education institutions to take entire campuses online almost overnight. Despite a massive growth and adoption in online education technology in recent years, many institutions struggled to translate their on-campus delivery methodology to an online environment and, in particular, were unprepared in how to ensure academic integrity online. This has resulted in a scramble to adopt exam proctoring and remote invigilation software, providing the Engineering Institute of Technology a competitive advantage and new business stream.

Over the last three years, the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) has perfected an online exam proctoring, and remote invigilation software to autonomously monitor students while they undertake an exam. This system is named IRIS Invigilation.

IRIS was developed by the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) in conjunction with Curtin University in Western Australia. EIT is now the sole education partner of IRIS internationally and utilizes the software to invigilate online assessments and exams of 1600 students from over 140 countries. IRIS' usefulness has further been realized as the pandemic has produced new challenges for institutions that need to ensure the reliability and validity of student assessments.

"My vision for IRIS was to have an easy-to-run, very affordable invigilation package for our (and other colleges') students, and indeed, staff, to easily use at far-flung locations to demonstrate their commitment to a high level of integrity in their work," said Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Dr. Steve Mackay. The fully developed software seemingly made it to market just in time for the unexpected circumstance that cropped up this year.

"When coronavirus hit in early 2020, educational institutes who had been avoiding online education were forced into action. If this transition wasn't stressful enough, with all the technical challenges of schools, colleges, and universities going online, then they had to find a solution for online assessments and potential cheating," says Sarah Montgomery, Project Manager at EIT who is overseeing IRIS.

"As more institutes go online, we saw an opportunity to expand IRIS to other institutions who would benefit from remote proctoring," she continued. "IRIS has been warmly received with many potential customers valuing the dedicated IRIS technical team and evidence of EIT's own success in using the platform."

Deputy Dean at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Indumathi V, says she has seen the software in action and finds it incredibly helpful as an academic monitoring exams.

"I have seen IRIS in action, and it's fantastic! It empowers me as an academic to trust on the reliability, authenticity, and integrity of the assessments completed by my students.  It works by recording audio, video, and computer screen activity for the duration of an exam/assessment. Staff don't have to go through every recording to verify assessment integrity or authenticity. Machine learning algorithms in the background do the work and flag potential academic dishonesty, which is neatly displayed on a dashboard. It's a well-designed, user-friendly system that integrates effortlessly into most computer systems."

The software had already racked up some accolades before the COVID-19 pandemic began threatening education institutions around the world. In 2019, the IRIS team secured the position of ON Accelerate Finalist, which is Australia's national innovation accelerator program, powered by CSIRO. In the same year, IRIS was a Highly Commended Education Finalist (Best Project in the Education category) at the prestigious ITnews Benchmark Awards.

How it works

IRIS records video of a student's face throughout their online exam. The program tracks head and eye movement, records the audio signal from a student's computer, and captures webcam audio too. The program takes successive screenshots of what the student sees during the exam, and what is displayed on their computer screen.

An extra security measure IRIS incorporates is facial markers. The markers are identified and tracked, categorizing and distinguishing innocent behaviors and cross-referencing them with dishonest behaviors.

IRIS departs from traditional methods of real-time online invigilation, which is expensive and time-consuming for educators and assessors. Upon the completion of an assessment, IRIS autonomously targets or 'flags' videos that need evaluation to prioritize students who require further investigation and keep staff workloads manageable. Educators can then review this data at a time that is convenient to help ensure student identity verification and assessment integrity.

Educators set the system on their online assessments through their own defined Learning Management System (LMS) such as Moodle. When a student clicks on the assessment, IRIS automatically pops up and asks the student to agree to being invigilated. Once they complete and submit their assessment, IRIS shuts down and provides the educators with all of the data gathered during the assessment.

"With the increase in the uptake of online learning and assessment due to COVID19, more and more educational institutions are grappling with assessment authenticity and integrity," says Indumathi.

"Autonomous proctoring provides an excellent solution to these problems, improving the quality assurance and reliability of online education.

"The future of proctoring is very bright with artificial intelligence (AI), big data (data forensics), data security, and user-centric developments taking center stage. These enhanced capabilities provide many opportunities for improvements to existing technology."

Lightweight, easily deployable, global

Students from all over the world are using IRIS. At the Engineering Institute of Technology, we have three years' experience in invigilating all online exams. Online exam proctoring cements the legitimacy of online education, which institutions have had to implement during the global pandemic. IRIS Invigilation provides a lightweight, easily deployable, and instantly accessible system for monitoring students while they complete online assessments.

The IRIS technology is secure, easy to use, and requires very little in the way of software infrastructure due to its efficient browser-based design. All the student needs is a Microsoft-compatible or Mac computer with webcam, microphone, and speakers connected. Most impressively, IRIS has a Google Chrome extension and Microsoft Edge plugin that can be added straight to the browser.

Sarah explains, "Students need to use the Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge browser because IRIS uses these browser plugins (extensions) to access your webcam, microphone, and screen. IRIS has been developed in this way so that you do not have to download bulky or costly software packages onto your computer.

Recently, IRIS was added to the Microsoft Edge store, so now Chinese students can utilize the software. This opens up a huge market for international students as previously IRIS did not work in China."

The IRIS team has successfully signed up several large institutes that deal with thousands of international and local university and college students.

"We have a client who specializes in English testing and another in the trade skills industry. One of our larger clients completed their university exams this week and clocked up over 15,000 assessment hours. IRIS is capable of handling huge amounts of data, and IRIS successfully invigilated and uploaded the recordings of over 3,000 students in the exam period," said Sarah.  

"After significant financial investment in research over the past five years and tens of thousands of hours of testing, I have been gratified to see IRIS develop into an ultra-useful invigilation (proctoring) package," Steve remarked.

"IRIS has been adopted by many of the largest colleges in the world, and we are pouring more resources into developing additional AI capabilities as well as analytical support to provide feedback to the instructors on improving their courses with real evidence-based intelligence."

With the potentially chaotic reclosure of educational facilities due to a second wave of the coronavirus, investing in an online remote examination proctoring software solution is a good step in ensuring academic integrity online.

For further information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Excellence in education is all about the teacher – never about the medium.

Reflect on your own learning journey; do you have a teacher (lecturer, instructor or tutor) who stands out? Someone who empowered you and enabled you to learn; someone who made a particular subject seem irresistible or inspired you to embrace life-long learning?

With students everywhere studying online, some teachers, despite the medium, will be marvellous. They do need to master the online platforms they use, but with proficiency they can make the technology all but ‘disappear’ and continue to inspire the learners who depend on them.

This moment in time presents an exciting opportunity for teachers and students everywhere. The internet is here and many remarkable learning tools are available. Dedicated and agile education providers can facilitate a learning experience for a student which is dynamic, interactive and innovative.

It is also an approach to education that does not discriminate. It can reach into the remotest of global and rural corners, around full-time work, and out of the way of an insidious pandemic.

Education providers must, however, be mindful of students who lack the necessary network infrastructure. But never underestimate the determination of learners; owning a mobile phone can suffice. Those who design education for online learners must target this device.

It is the greatest mistake to hurriedly equate online education with flexibility. Students must meet those brilliant teachers in real time if they are to remain engaged in their learning experience. So, promote your inflexible online learning proudly; schedule your lessons and tutorials and take role call! Offer students flexibility and your attrition and failure rates will rocket.

Having exhorted you to embrace inflexibility, all online platforms offer learners enormous flexibility too. If a scheduled live webinar/tutorial cannot be attended, the recorded session - sent to all in the class - can be reviewed any number of times and at the students’ leisure.

Furthermore, readings, videos, pre-recorded lectures, and online remote and virtual labs are all available 24/7.

Now that the stuff of learning is progressing apace, students will need to be assessed! Can online education work if academic integrity cannot be assured? Again, software emerges as the saviour. There are packages such as IRIS ( which have even outdone the human invigilator. It ably detects students trying to cut corners because it has the ears and eyes of a proctor or monitor - but one who never blinks.

Many, however, remain sceptical about the real scope of an online platform. How can it enable students to develop skills? How can learning be contextualised? And how can those overarching concepts, ideas and knowledge be applied?

For some subjects and skills this will prove impossible. Teaching someone to resuscitate an unresponsive adult, for example; a student requires a volunteer or a life-size manikin on which to practice. And a mere 15 to 20 years ago an engineering student could not have applied his newly acquired knowledge outside of a laboratory or on a real work site.

With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the 4th Industrial Revolution, however, this has all changed. In fact, the engineering industry itself has changed; much of what is accomplished on site is dependent on the internet and on technology. It is this that has allowed students to apply and test their knowledge on real equipment via remote labs, to access engineering plants via simulations and to experiment on various engineering applications and tools via virtual labs.

To calculate the temperature change and response time for different thermocouple and RTD installations, for example, students can log into a data logger remotely (as pictured below).

Differential Thermocouple Configuration:


Rahm Emanuel, a former mayor of Chicago, said:

“Never let a crisis go to waste. ….it is an opportunity to do things you could not do before”

This is our crisis and our opportunity. We are living in uncertain times, but we must continue to offer excellence in education; to inspire and prepare our students for work and for a world which will inevitably present them with new challenges and change. 

Written by Quintus Potgieter
Published: 25 March 2019

Remote invigilation - otherwise known as online proctoring - might just be the critical factor when measuring the success of online higher education. Online education without digital supervision would naturally be a sticking point for education accreditation boards across the globe. It is not surprising, therefore, that online proctoring solutions are growing.

Curtin University and the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) have been hard at work developing the Intelligent Remote Invigilation System (IRIS). It is a cloud-based platform which utilizes machine learning to monitor students during online examination and eTests.

During an examination the software records audio and video in real time. The machine learning studies these records and red-flags any suspicious behaviour. This evidence is automatically sent to the relevant examiners.

Screenshots are taken at intervals and sent to the invigilating program, this is to double-check what students are seeing on their screens. If anything, other than what should be there is detected, the program flags this as suspicious.

IRIS is cloud-based – this means that no heavy software is required on a student’s device; in fact it is so lightweight it can run on a web browser. Furthermore, because the machine learning is largely responsible for identifying potential cheaters, the requirement for staff involvement drops off significantly.

A big benefit to the system is the learning analytics that provide incredibly detailed insight into educational trends and patterns based on real student data. Curtin University told IT News that they hope to see the invention make its way to the ‘rest of Australia's 700 Vocational Education and Training providers’.

A new chapter in online education

Perfecting online proctoring is of utmost importance considering the global online education market is projected to reach a total market size of US$286.62 billion by 2023, as reported by Research and Markets. This means more and more students are opting for online study - but invigilating those students remotely, during examinations, is a tall order. An excerpt of the report reads:

“Platforms that facilitate learning through gaming are gaining popularity, improvements in IT security and implementation of cloud-based solutions has increased the adoption rate of online education system as now, people can enjoy a smooth learning experience on safe online platforms. Advancements in the field of artificial intelligence are expected to further boost the growth rate of the online education market.”

Although critical in the virtual classroom, online invigilation is likely to become a useful tool in the physical classroom too – as part of an on-campus, hybrid learning invigilation system. The problems with on-campus invigilation are prompting the change; these include the need for a battalion of human invigilators and the greater margin for error (whereas an automated system can monitor students individually).

In South Africa for instance, even at the Further Education and Training phase (Grades 10 to 12), the Independent Examination Board has instructed schools to install invigilation cameras in any venue where examinations take place.

It is clear that invigilation technologies are becoming more vital to education institutions around the world, but especially to legitimize online education once and for all.

Works Cited

Johnston, Matt. “Benchmark Awards 2019 Finalists: Curtin Uni Remote Exam Invigilation.” ITnews, 4 Feb. 2019,
ltd, Research and Markets. “Global Online Education Market - Forecasts from 2018 to 2023.” Research and Markets - Market Research Reports - Welcome,