First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID19 Times?
Mike Olsen: Like everyone else, during these times, we’re staying strong! We just welcomed our second child to the world in the midst of all of this.
Proctorio, on the other hand, is expanding exceptionally rapidly. In 2020, so far, we’ve already proctored over 8.5 million exams. So, in short, we’re staying busy.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded or Joined Proctorio
Mike Olsen: While pursuing a degree in aeronautical engineering from Arizona State University, I was hired as a software engineer supporting online student enrollment growth for ASU’s EdPlus. Within my 5 year tenure at EdPlus, the university’s online student enrollment experienced incredible growth. Through that growth, I saw a real need to create a platform that ensured academic integrity within the online education sphere.
I have always been interested in producing products that are well thought out and pay special attention to design and the user’s experience. I have taken this approach to everything I’ve created in my life, from my company Echovoice that I established as a pre-teen, to an “Up” inspired ride I created when I aspired to be an Imagineer for Disney, to Proctorio.
I created Proctorio because I saw the need to validate the online education experience and show that you can have the same experience and receive the same quality education at home as you can in the classroom. And now here we are, 7 years later.
How does Proctorio Innovate?
Mike Olsen: I (and members of my team) have witnessed the meteoric growth of online education, even dating back to our days at ASU Online. As online education expanded, the number of people who could access education online grew exponentially.
But the move to a virtual learning experience created a need for validation throughout the learning journey.
How can academic institutions validate who is completing online course work? How can businesses validate the authenticity and credibility of the credentials awarded to a candidate? How can validation technology help fight financial aid fraud?
At the heart of all of these questions is integrity. We wanted to create technology that allowed academic institutions and businesses to award professional certification the ability to validate the integrity of the learner’s experience and outcomes.
Doing this well doesn’t only mean retaining the instructor’s trust, but the learner as well. Our product roadmap is heavily influenced by feedback from both groups; for example, we are working to make online tests more accessible to students anywhere at any time.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you coping?
Mike Olsen: COVID-19 has only accelerated many trends that were already fast-moving on their own. According to UNESCO, at the initial peak of the pandemic in late March, 1.6 billion students could not go to school, accounting for more than 90% of the world’s students.
This rapid shift forced institutions to shift to emergency online education quickly. This was difficult for even the best-resourced and most digitally savvy institutions; those without proper expertise or resources likely struggled mightily.
Now that habits have begun to form (and since the virus is unfortunately still with us), we expect some changes to stick. This offers a huge opportunity for education technology services, like Proctorio.
On one hand, we need to help institutions make sense of their options across the education technology stack and integrate products that solve real problems. On the other hand, we need to minimize the disruption to students by making content more accessible.
We have seen a huge explosion in growth during the pandemic. Compared to April 2019, we experienced 900% year over year growth in proctored exams completed on our platform.
Within that huge growth, we focused on our commitment to quality and service, retaining 11 second support response times, even amid massive partner growth.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mike Olsen: Like many companies who experienced meteoric growth amid a global pandemic, we worked hard to balance responsible growth, high quality, and support and safety of our employees.
It took hard work from our dedicated team across the company, and I’m proud of how we responded.
Since it looks like this will be our “normal” for a while, we’re taking steps to build our team and infrastructure for the long haul, and make sure we have the necessary resources across the world to sustain our high-quality approach to customer care.
We see a huge opportunity to meet and address the current market need. Still, we believe there are additional exciting applications to the technology we have developed and look forward to sharing more about that in the future.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Mike Olsen: Proctorio differentiates itself by putting users’ privacy first, being completely scalable, and offering the most accessible remote proctoring solution available.
Proctorio never collects biometric data, and never requires personally identifiable data to enter an exam. Instead, our users utilize Single Sign-On and can access their exams directly from their learning management system (LMS) or third party assessment platform.
We’re the only proctoring solution that uses Zero-Knowledge Encryption to ensure that no one, not even Proctorio staff members, can access any exam-related data except for the instructors or approved administrators at the institution.
We also make access to exams as flexible and as easy as possible for students. All Proctorio exams, using Live or Automated Proctoring services, are completely unscheduled.
This is different from the majority of our competitors who require students to register and sign up for exam time slots and then charge them for late or rescheduling fees. With Proctorio, students can take their exams wherever and whenever they want.
Lastly, Proctorio offers proactive support that operates 24/7/365 and has had an average response time of 7.92 seconds. This means there are no wait times for our users to enter an exam or receive technical/general support. Exams for students are stressful enough; we do not want technical difficulties to add another layer of stress!
Your Final Thoughts
Mike Olsen: Our mission is to ensure academic integrity for online test takers as they pursue their goals of attaining a better education. Integrity is built on trust, and institution administrators at 850+ institutions around the world trust us to be their partner at solving this urgent need.
We strive to improve upon this value within every one of our products and services every day.