CHAPEL HILL – There is concern academic integrity is at stake when students take online classes; but the University of North Carolina is being applauded for the way it challenged this concern.

Maggie O’hara is the Director of E-learning for UNC. She says balancing the convenience of online course examinations, with the integrity often found in monitored classroom examinations can be a challenge.

“Proctoring is a strong preventative measure for academic integrity violations, and it helps to insure online students’ integrity, but it’s not full proof,” O’hara says.

But the 17-campus UNC system has accepted the challenge to find a way to protect the integrity of online courses. And with a new award to put on the shelf, it appears they’ve beat that challenge.

UNC will receive the 2013 WCET Outstanding Work Award from the Western Interstate Commission for standardizing the test proctoring process, which protects academic integrity of students who take courses online.

O’hara talked to us about the online examinations’ original issues. She says students were always required to find a proctor, but there was no streamlined selection process.

O’hara says, “You can imagine with a class of 30 students, the students all sending out emails saying, ‘Is this proctor acceptable?’And then the faculty member emailing the proctor saying, ‘Can you tell me a little about yourself.’ It would take a couple hundred emails to set up proctors for 30 students.”

So they found a way to simplify the process for everyone.

“In an effort to automate this process, this system was created,” O’hara says: “It simplifies things with one vetting process. The vetting is done consistently. So the students know that once the proctor’s out there and licensed, they are able to use them.”

This system is not currently used at UNC-Chapel Hill, because they don’t have as big of an e-learning program as other UNC system schools. But it’s expected to be used in the near future.