By Mike Olsen, CEO
At Proctorio, we recently put a final wrap on the books from 2020. Given some time to reflect, it was an extremely humbling year.
Our company prospered by offering a service that helped tens of thousands of test takers around the world continue their education, no matter the time or place. However, Proctorio faced challenges of scale, communication, and progress against critical industry issues.
We wanted to take a moment to reflect on how we performed in 2020, and outline what we want to achieve in the rest of 2021.
Hitting Record Growth
Like many companies in online education technology, our growth exploded. We surpassed our annual targets by March, experiencing 900% year-over-year growth in exams proctored from April 2019 to April 2020, and proctoring more than 20 million exams across more than 1,200 institutions. Our reach is global, with Proctorio proctoring exams in all but four countries around the world.
This growth continued throughout 2020 and to this day, as our weekly active user count continues to expand. We started January 2020 with 250,000 weekly active users, which rose to nearly 3 million by March 1, 2021.
It’s remarkable to reflect on the earliest days of the pandemic, scrambling to react to both internal and external events. Internally, our teams worked harder than ever to keep services running smoothly as institutions moved to distance learning at a rapid pace. Externally, we helped our partner institutions solve problems, including offering free Lock Down services and many emergency training sessions. I am proud of the creativity and grit that our global Proctorio team showed during this time. Some of these solutions, like free Lock Down services, will continue to be offered for the foreseeable future.
Focus on Data Privacy and Security
We made a decision early in the pandemic, following the start of the massive usage spike, to accelerate future plans around improvements in data privacy, test taker security, accessibility and anti-bias improvements. We know that using new technology for something as high-stakes as exams and certifications can be new and scary – and no test taker should worry about their data privacy on top of that.
We added a new data privacy feature that informs test takers of where and how long their encrypted exam recordings will be stored. We also partnered with White Oak Security, a leading information security company, to undergo an assessment of our approach to data security. This engagement found that our browser extension appropriately implements Zero-Knowledge Encryption, meaning that only institution-approved representatives possess the encryption keys for audio or video recordings that are stored.
We are most proud of our unparalleled approach to data encryption, our pursuit of external security audits, and our protection of end-user privacy. We do not use biometric identifiers, do not require additional personally identifiable information beyond what is already required by the assessment platform, do not sell test-taker data, and only share test-taker data with our trusted sub-processors.
Evaluating Ourselves and Consistently Improving
In addition to our work to enhance data privacy and security, we continued efforts to ensure our software remained free of discrimination in accessibility and bias. As proactive steps, we engaged with two third-party organizations to conduct audits of our software in these areas.
Our ongoing work with BABL AI will evaluate and update Proctorio’s algorithm as needed to provide a fair learning environment for all. Additionally, we’ve engaged My Blind Spot, a New York City-based, internationally-certified nonprofit consultancy, for a similar project to provide software and design recommendations, accessibility-related user testing, accessibility audits, and updates to our Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs) every six months.
Feedback from institutions and test takers also indicated that we need to improve how we explain our platform’s functionality institutions and exam administrators. In response, we launched Proctorio Academy in 2020 to provide exam administrators with the training modules, samples, and collaborative message boards needed to understand the nuances of our product.
Adding New Faces to Our Team
Due to our unprecedented growth this year, we had a 28% increase in employee headcount. Amid this increase, we maintained our close culture (less than 100 employee cap), proving that we’re able to scale our service without growing too quickly or burning staff out. A large portion of our staff shifted to a remote working environment this year, reinforcing our empathy and attentiveness to the needs of remote learners.
We’re proud to work with institutions to facilitate learning for all during these challenging times and our growth in 2020 allowed us to expand our services while providing high-integrity learning opportunities globally. We’re excited for the next chapter in distance learning and stand ready to help our partners through what lies ahead in 2021 and beyond. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team with any questions. Email: [email protected].
Note: This blog post was updated for clarity on June 23, 2021.