Sramana Mitra: You gave a presentation to a group of universities explaining that there’s something that you wanted to do and they resonated with that. Could you explain what that pitch was?
Don Kassner: We got up and showed what we were doing at Andrew Jackson University with this remote proctoring product that we had developed, which we were calling ProctorU. Essentially, it was a product demonstration at this particular education conference.
Sramana Mitra: What was the content of ProctorU at that point? What were you able to do there?
Don Kassner: At that point, ProctorU was just a couple of people doing the proctoring. We were only proctoring for Andrew Jackson University’s 500 students.
Sramana Mitra: What is special about ProctorU?
Don Kassner: It’s the realization of distance education – the idea that you can take your education and complete it from anywhere. In the examination part of distance education, it’s always been that you had to go to campus or a test center to take the examination so that they can prove both your identity and that you’re not receiving unfair assistance on the exam. Our methodology allowed that particular test taker to take that examination from anywhere.
Sramana Mitra: What does that entail? How can you validate that the person taking an exam from home is the authentic person and is not receiving unfair assistance?
Don Kassner: It’s a simple three-step process. We designed it in a very simple way. What do you have to do when proctoring? You have to be able to see the test taker. You have to be able to see what they’re doing. You have to know who they are. If you could do those three simple things, you’re replicating what you can do live in the classroom.
To enable that, the first thing we do is hook up to them with a webcam. Our proctor is in our facility. The student is, in most cases, at their home. We can see them and we can see their area. Then we hookup to their computer with screen-sharing text support type software so we can see their computer screen and evaluate whether it’s ready to take the examination and make sure that there aren’t programs that should not be running. The last thing we do is we put them through a series of steps to assure that it’s the right student. Those steps, which are multi-factor, will depend on what information the university already has. It’s a bit customized as to how we do that but we can assure that it’s the right student. We can see the student. We can see what they’re doing and we know who they are.
Sramana Mitra: That’s absolutely crystal clear. That’s the product that you have operating at the Andrew Jackson University when you had this presentation to a group of 100 universities?
Don Kassner: That is correct.
Sramana Mitra: When you gave that presentation, which universities decided to embrace that solution and asked you to run that service?
Don Kassner: Our very first paying customer was California Southern University out of Los Angeles. We added several more after that. By the summertime, our first big win was a school called Troy University out of Central Alabama. They have a very large online program with a large number of students. For the first two or three years, they were our largest client.