by Ekaterina Kolosova
December 15, 2016
Artem Kozin and Anton Skshidlevsky explain how they solved the problem of lack of trust in extramural education.
In the opinion of Daphne Koller, founder of Coursera, one of the most popular extramural teaching programs, within the next five years, the top colleges may be teaching entirely extramurally. This trend is exemplified by the start-up ProctorEdu, which has solved the problem of passing off one person as another and copying in the taking of examinations extramurally. The company started in March 2016, and by August it had produced a version of a system with automatic detection of dishonest behavior. Today, Artem Kozin, head of the startup. and Anton Skshidlevsky, its technical director, talk about their project.
— Anton, how many people are working on putting your project into practice?
— At present, there are four people in our company working full-time, and five more part-time.
— Could you explain more precisely what we are talking about? What is the nature and point of your project?
Anton Skshidlevsky: — With pleasure. ProctorEdu is a service enabling examinations to be taken extramurally, and without installing any other special equipment or software. The only thing users need is an add-on for the web browser.
— More details, please.
Anton Skshidlevsky: — Firstly the student undergoes an ID check. Photos are taken of his/her ID document and face for subsequent automatic analysis. And then the examination itself is taken. Extramurally But in a medium controlled by us.
— What if someone tries to cheat by copying the correct answers from a textbook?
Anton Skshidlevsky: — It won’t succeed! during the examination, our system monitors and analyzes the student’s behavior. There are nine parameters from which it becomes obvious when someone is copying. These include the detection of outside people and voices, passing off one person as another and using forbidden documents. The results are recorded in a report which can be viewed after the examination has been taken.
— You mean the program will detect wrongdoing? And the exam will not be passed?
Anton Skshidlevsky: — That’s exactly what I mean. And it is worth saying here that our program works automatically, but invigilators and examiners may participate. If necessary, they can examine a student orally.
— Artem, what assets do you have for putting your idea into practice?
Artem Kozin: — The project was initially developed using our own savings. After producing a product with basic functionality and receiving feedback, the team submitted applications to take part in acceleration programs. We got through to the final of competitive selection in three such programs: the Indian EDUGILD, the French NUMA and the Russian FRII. Under the terms of the participation of EDUGILD, whose invitation we accepted, the accelerator takes five per cent of the company for an educational program and will invest in it at subsequent project development stages. NUMA offers 1,400,000 roubles, of which the teaching costs 700,000. In FRII, the team successfully passed extramural acceleration and received an offer to invest 2,100,000 roubles. Of this, 900,000 goes on the educational program and the remaining 1,200,000 on the development of the company.
Anton Skshidlevsky: — Artem and Adebayo Adeniyi, a co-founder of the company, are responsible for entering the foreign market, and are located in India. The rest of the company is based in Russia. The team is considering whether FRII or NUMA will participate in the program.
— Is it of value to you to pass through acceleration?
Artem Kozin: — Undoubtedly. Participation in such programs enables us to reduce the probability of management errors, to obtain expert advice on urgent questions and to establish contacts with the necessary people. NUMA has great opportunities to enter the European market, and EDUGILD the Indian one. FRII will help us develop in Russia.
— Why are you going for the Indian market?
Artem Kozin: — We did not choose the Indian market at random. We see great prospects in it, because it is considered the third largest, after America and China. There is less competition in our business in India. The market is young, and most examinations are still being taken in the traditional way. The marketing agency Creative Street, which knows a lot about the cultural specifics of the country, will help with the packaging and publicizing of ProctorEdu. With the aid of the accelerator and the support of the agency, ProctorEdu will start a pilot project with MIT University, in which it is intended to cover two to six thousand examinations.
— To end with the traditional question: what are your plans for the future?
Artem Kozin: — Plans for the project include putting some of the investments we have obtained into developing the technical aspect of it. After testing, and gaining a firm foothold in India, we want to expand our geographical coverage and enter the American market. We are also looking at the corporate segment: most companies need extramural training, and it is easier to reach agreement on cooperation with them. They are also more acutely aware of the problem of confidence in the results of exams taken extramurally. ProctorEdu intends to help them solve this problem.
— Thank you for the interview. We wish you every success!