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No online cheating? SofTest-M offers schools a unique way to give tests using iPads

by David Needle

March 27 2013

The SofTest-M app for the iPad blocks other apps and network access during the test period.
The SofTest-M app for the iPad blocks other apps and network access during the test period.

What may be the first secure, offline exam delivery app is close to being released for the iPad.

ExamSoft Worldwide says its soon-to-be-released SofTest-M app ensures students can’t crib from from the Web because it blocks Internet access during exams and also restricts access to other applications.

While the iPad part is new, ExamSoft already offers similar technology for taking tests securely using laptops and desktops.

The company has scheduled a webinar for April 2 where ExamSoft President David Schnabel will offer more details on how the app works. He will be joined by Eric Ermie, program manager for testing and evaluation at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where faculty and students have already been using SofTest-M as part of a study of its effectiveness.

The company, which first announced SofT-M last summer, says it expects it to be available in Apple's App Store soon. 

“Students are carrying multiple WiFi enabled devices on campus, and they expect to be able to use this technology seamlessly in the classroom,” said Ermie. “However, we’ve learned that even the most advanced wireless infrastructure can’t promise 100% reliability, let alone consistent, rapid performance, and that’s just not acceptable when delivering high-stakes exams.”

The challenge of broad WiFi support

Tablet ownership among college students has tripled in the past year, according to a Harris Interactive study, with a majority of students using WiFi-based iPads. Apple alone has sold over 8 million iPads to educational institutions. But Ermie says it can be a challenge to support, due to the increasing demand on campus network resources.

“Universities face complex challenges, serving students who come in with high expectations for leveraging their laptops, iPads, and smartphones on campus,” added David Schnabel, ExamSoft president. “That’s why we’ve developed a flexible solution that enables students to use any or all of these devices, without burdening their schools’ wireless infrastructure.”

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