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SMOWL for Open LMS – Functional F.A.Q.

General inquiries

What is Smowltech?

Smowtech is a company that has developed its SMOWL system to help institutions maintain the quality of the activities that can be evaluated in online training using a proctoring system based on artificial intelligence, which allows verifying the identity of the user online and detecting suspicious behavior through the entire virtual learning process; thus being a flexible solution that adapts to the pedagogical methodology of each institution.

What is SMOWL function?

SMOWL is a tool for quality assurance in online training that works on the browser and uses the user’s webcam to randomly capture images during all online activity to generate evidence of what happened during the online evaluation, which is provided to the evaluator, who will make the final decision.

What is SMOWL’s value proposition?

●Unique pedagogical approach: Flexibility to adapt to the methodology of the institution, whether it is the monitoring of an activity, or of an entire course.

 Privacy and security by design. GDPR compliance (European General Data Protection Regulation).

● User centered experience (student + teacher) – fully integrated with the LMS.

● Cost efficient.

● No service scheduling – availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, “when and where you choose”.

● Modular: Different levels of security according to the needs of the institution.

  • Webcam monitorization: No installation required. Multi-device solution.
    • Computer monitorization: More robust desktop application than a browser extension. It does not restrict, it offers flexibility in the different evaluation formats.
    • Audio recording: Ability to capture audio if necessary.

● Scalable to large volumes of users.

● Captures photos, not videos: This uses fewer resources and requires less bandwidth.

● Works on any browser.

● Easily configurable monitoring filters within LMS.

● “Cross Validation” system, where artificial intelligence is combined with a human team, if necessary, to offer more reliable results.

● Customizable reports generated automatically, where suspicious evidence is tagged for review, thus facilitating the evaluator’s work.

● Cloud computing technology – does not consume customer resources.

Why has “Proctoring Online” become so important?

Online supervision is the key tool for organizations to provide universal access to education to anyone to carry out their training 100% online, accrediting and recognizing that the person who has taken the course is the correct one and has obtained the knowledge, providing a high level of credibility to obtain the certification. It helps break down geographic and time barriers for those who have mobility issues, are working and don’t have enough time or money to attend in-person training, or have families and schedules that are not compatible.

As online education continues to grow, so does the potential for academic dishonesty.
SMOWL is playing a very important role in ensuring that online education offerings maintain their integrity. By providing secure, flexible and scalable proctoring services, SMOWL helps institutions to maintain their accreditation and reputation, and students to have greater credibility by accrediting the acquisition of knowledge.

Q&A students

What do you need to take an exam with SMOWL?

DEVICE: Through which you will take your exam. It can be a laptop or desktop computer. In case your institution allows it, you can do your exam through a mobile phone or tablet.

COMPATIBLE BROWSER: We recommend the use of browsers such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Review the information of browsers recommended by the institution or in the “System requirements” section.

INTERNET CONNECTION: If possible, we recommend using the Internet via cable for a better experience.

System requirements

Additional hardware

Do I need to install something?

The solution is integrated within your virtual campus, so the Smowl system will launch automatically when you start your exam. In case your institution requests it, it will be necessary to install a desktop application to monitor your computer. Ask your institution if you need to download it.

Do I need to schedule the service?

No. SMOWL is an automatic proctoring service, so you can access it 24/7, 365 days a year. Once the institution enables the exam, it will be accessible for you.

Will my teacher send me a password to take the exam?

No, Smowl’s solution is integrated into your platform and will work automatically when you start the exam

How do I register?

To register, you must access your course within the virtual campus where the institution will have enabled a space with the registration link. First you will have to read and accept the terms and conditions to later capture the 3 images. If the institution requires it, we may ask you to show an identity document.

When should I register?

We recommend you do so as soon as the institution enables the link.

How do I know if I have registered?

You can access the registration link again after a few days to check it or ask it directly to your institution.

Do I need to register every time I take an exam?

No, registration must be done only once regardless of the number of exams to be performed.

What if I have a connection problem during the exam?

You must contact your Institution so that they indicate how you should proceed.

Compatibility

Does SMOWL work on tablets and mobiles?

The basic version of SMOWL (without the desktop application) works on different devices as it is web based. In any case, we always recommend the use of a computer due to the stability it offers.

Is SMOWL also functional with the Moodle app?
No. On mobile devices we work on the browser, but not on the app.

What are the loading requirements for students? What happens if a student does not comply with that?
In our basic version, no installation is needed, it works on any browser (except Internet Explorer). As we work with images instead of video, it makes it a very flexible and less resource intensive solution for the student, it requires less bandwidth. The second level of security requires the download of a desktop application, which works on Windows or Mac OS. We also recommend Google Chrome or Mozilla browsers. The program will not run if a webcam is not detected.

Enrollment

How do I register?

To register, you must access your course within the virtual campus where the institution will have enabled a space with the registration link. You will first have to read and accept the terms and conditions. (https://smowl.net/en/privacy-policy/) to later capture images of your face. If the institution requires it, it may ask you to show an identity document.

When should I register?

We recommend doing so as soon as the institution enables the link, correctly following the instructions provided during registration.

How do I know if I have registered?

You can access the registration link again after a few days to verify it or check with your institution.

Every time I go to take an exam, do I have to register?

No, registration must be done only once regardless of the number of exams to be taken during that course.

Before the test

Do I have to make a schedule reservation?

No. SMOWL is an automatic proctoring service, so you can access it 24/7, 365 days a year. Once the institution enables the exam, you can access it.

Will my teacher give me the password to take the exam?

No, the Smowl solution is integrated into your platform and will work automatically when you start the exam.

How is SMOWL CM installed?

Within the course, the institution will provide a download link to which you will have to access with the username and password that they provide to access the download page. Once downloaded, you will simply have to install it with a double click.

Do I have to grant any permission inside my device before or during the exam?

The permissions to be granted will depend on the requirements of your institution, you may have to accept the use of the webcam, audio and the desktop application.

What if I have a connection problem during the exam?

You should contact your Institution so that they can tell you how you should proceed.

Does SMOWL decide if I pass or fail?

No. SMOWL is a quality assurance tool that is responsible for providing the evidence of what happened to the institution, which establishes the supervision protocols and makes the final decisions.

Privacy and data security

How do I know that my privacy is protected?

SMOWL fully complies with the General European Data Protection Regulation. In addition, we are a European company that is receiving funds from the European Commission, being part of the projects Horizon 2020. (https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en)

What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

It is the Regulation that governs the European Union regarding the protection and processing of personal data of natural persons, in addition to regulating their “digital rights”.

What type of information will be collected by SMOWL?

We will only store the information obtained during activity monitoring, and it will depend on what your institution requests as a type of service, for example, image capture via webcam, audio capture, report of computer activity during the exam, open programs, visited websites, etc.

What will the information collected be used for?

The collection of information and the use of the images taken is for the sole purpose of verifying the identity of the student, as well as preventing attempted fraud and ensuring the integrity of the exam.

How long will the information be stored?

The information will be stored on Smowtech’s servers, during the period of time defined with the institution. Once this period has expired, the information will be deleted.

Recommendations / guidelines

YOU MUST BE IN A WELL-LIT ROOM

Avoid placing yourself against the light. When you stand in front of the device on which you are going to take your exam, you must be able to visualize yourself correctly at all times.

YOU MUST BE IN AN ISOLATED ROOM

When the system detects another person with you, an incident will be generated within the final report. This also applies to minors inside the room.

TRY TO HAVE A SMOOTH BACKGROUND

We suggest taking the exam in a space where there are not many objects or pictures in the background, including photographs.

YOU MUST MAINTAIN A CORRECT POSTURE

You should be able to visualize your face in its entirety throughout your exam. When the system cannot correctly detect your face, an incident will be raised.

OTHER DEVICES

Avoid using other devices such as second monitors, tablets, or mobile devices.

SUPPORT MATERIAL

Your institution should tell you if it is allowed to use notes, calculator or any other support material.

TALK DURING THE EXAM

Avoid talking, even if it’s thoughts out loud. You must be in a quiet environment.

BREAKS

You must remain in front of the device at all times, unless your institution tells you that you can be absent.

Web user support (accessible from the LMS)

https://www.smowl.net/student/en/index

Q&A Institution

Tool configuration

  • Are the reports customizable? Can we customize the detection and alarms criteria?
    Yes, it is a tool that is flexible to adapt to the pedagogical methodology of the institution. There are default values ​​that can be modified at any time of the service by the provider, in addition to having access from the platform in the reports area to the criteria panel to modify them at any time when consulting the results.
  • How many concurrent users does the solution support?
    Currently working with concurrences from 500 to 10.000. If larger volumes are required, the infrastructure could be planned for this since we have built an architecture that allows us to work with a large volume of students and be self-scalable.
  • In what languages ​​is the application available?
    English, Spanish, French, German, Italian.
  • What language is displayed during the registration process?
    The one established by the LMS platform, if not available, will appear in English.

Student identification

  • How is the user registration done?

The student must access the link available on the platform to register, where a series of images and an identity document must be captured if required by the institution, which will serve to create the identification base against which it will be compared during the exam.

  • What happens if the student does not show the Identity Document?

The record will be deleted and they will be prompted to do it again.

  • When is the user registration done?

The recommendation is to do it at the beginning of the course and before doing the online activity. The institution is recommended to create “course 0” where all the information is provided to the user, for example, the registration link, user guides and explanation under what conditions the evaluations will be carried out, as well as a fake test of few questions simply to test and learn about the tool.

  • How can we know which student has registered?

Within the platform there is a specific area where student records are managed. You will be able to see by course the users who have registered in one column and in another if their registration has been validated, that is, if they have done it correctly.

  • What happens if the student grows a beard or changes his haircut?
    The biometric model considers other characteristics that allow identification despite a change in hairstyle, in addition, the models are updated automatically over time with the photographs captured during the activities. In case of doubt, there is a human team trained to carry out the validation and ensure the identity of the candidate.
  • What if an exam consists of several parts? Will the student have to authenticate more than once?
    Registration is only done once, no matter how many exams to take during the course.

Monitoring

  • At what point is the student notified that he will be monitored?

During registration, the student accepts the terms and conditions, where it is notified the workflow of the system. The student won’t be able to register if they do not accept the terms of use. In addition, it is recommended that the institution notify them about the evaluation processes that will be carried out and under what conditions at the beginning of the course.

  • Does the product require reservation/schedule with a proctor?
    The students don’t need to schedule a time with the proctor, the system begins to run automatically when the student accesses the exam that has been activated to be monitored.
  • Is there a way for the teacher to communicate with the students during the exam?
    Our application is a plugin that is integrated into the platform used by the institution to carry out activities, so it depends on its functionalities. We do not have private information about the student: name, surname, email, etc., we only link the captured images to the user code on the platform.
  • What level of resistance has existed on the part of the students for the adoption of tools like this?

Usually the feedback is positive, since they consider the opportunity to be able to do everything 100% online as relevant. This gives them flexibility, as well as a guarantee that they have been the ones who acquired the knowledge compared to those who seek to obtain the same, but fraudulently.

  • Can I choose the activities in which I want the Smowl solution to work?

Yes. It is suggested that there is an administrator who is the one who activates the Smowl solution in the activities to have a better control.

  • What if students start the exam and the SMOWL solution is not yet activated?

The exams can be taken, however, they will not be monitored through the SMOWL tool. As soon as the administrator activates it, the following exams will be monitored and will consume the licenses.

  • Can SMOWL interrupt user scan for malfunction?

No. SMOWL’s solution passively monitors the user without interrupting their activity. In the event that the system does not work, the user can continue with the activity and will be notified that something is worng to check it.

  • What happens if the user has a connection loss?

SMOWL being completely integrated into the platform will work based on the criteria established by it. If this allows the student to continue in the exam, it will continue active and as soon as the connection returns it will send the information.

  • Does SMOWL consume many user resources?

SMOWL does not record video, but rather captures images, which makes it a more efficient and lightweight solution, consuming fewer resources for the end user and requiring less bandwidth.

SMOWL CM

  • What aspects does SMOWL CM detect?

The system captures all the events that happen outside the exam on the computer, generating all the evidence so the institution can take decisions based on those evidence: Programs opened before the exam, programs accessed during the exam, peripherals (screens, keyboards, etc.), visited web pages, copy-paste.

  • What if the student is allowed to open a Word file or program during the exam?

SMOWL will detect everything that happens outside the exam to present the evidence to the institution. From there, the institution can indicate in the final report if it was not an incident and validate that it is allowed so that it does not appear as an incident on the report.

Results report

  • How long does it take until the monitoring results are available?
    The monitoring results through the webcam will be available in 24 hours, while the results of the desktop monitoring are in real time.
  • What does the color nomenclature mean in the report?
    Green: Correct images Red: Incidents detected (according to the established criteria) Orange: Situations in which the user cannot be detected due to lighting issues or bad position.
  • What do the “alert / attention” symbols mean?

These symbols can appear whether the user behavior was correct or incorrect. They are system recommendations for the following evaluations and report the following cases:

  • When the user’s position was inappropriate and made identity validation difficult.
    • When the lighting in the room where the evaluation was carried out was inadequate and made identity validation difficult.
    • When more than one user with the same IP is detected.
  • What additional information to monitoring through the webcam can be obtained in the report?

The SMOWL CM desktop application allows monitoring of the student’s desktop, so we can detect:

  • Peripherals
    • Open programs detected
    • Navigation within other programs
    • Navigation on other websites
    • Copy-Paste
  • Do the teachers receive training to learn how to use the solution and obtain the reports?

They will be able to have access to a video where they will be able to view the operation of the reports and the different aspects to take into account.

  • Can the reports be downloaded?

Yes, in the reports area you can download the information in csv or pdf format.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • What is the implementation time?

It is done in days from the signing of the contract.

  • How does SMOWL technology work?
    Smowl is an online student identity authentication and continuous monitoring system using facial recognition algorithms. Starting from an initial registration to create the student’s biometric model, which will serve as the basis for later comparing it with the images captured during the exam. All images will be processed on our servers with our facial recognition algorithms and machine learning technology developed in-house. The service applies an internally developed cross-validation system that allows not letting everything fall on the algorithms, but rather, based on the confidence levels established in case the algorithm does not arrive,
  • What does cross validation mean?
    The combination of automated algorithms with human supervision support if necessary to provide the most reliable results possible in line with institutional policies and not to provide more workload for teachers showing a large number of incidents to review.
  • Do they use the institution’s servers?
    No, we use cloud computing technology and all information is stored within our servers, so we do not consume the institution’s resources.
  • Can you adjust the periodicity with which the images are captured?
    The time-frame of the standard captures of 1 minute can be adjusted with an additional cost (ask).
  • From what version of Windows does it work?
    Windows 7, 8 and 10.
  • What versions of Moodle is it compatible with?
    From 3.0 to the latest; 3.9.
  • What are the recommended browsers to use SMOWL?
    SMOWL works on any browser, but we always recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox since they are the easiest to use for the user and those that offer a better experience for the application.
  • Can the tool be customized with the colors and emblem of the institution?

Yes, there are some customizable elements, which will be defined prior to the implementation of the product.

  • Is audio capture possible?
    Yes, it can be activated. (Ask)

  • What if my exam lasts more than two hours?
    We can have the flexibility to allow the application to continue after two hours. (Ask)
  • What happens if I purchase one exam package and don’t use all of licenses?

The exams will be available during the term of the contract (usually one year).