The Invigilator uses AI to keep students honest

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Nicholas Riemer, co-founder of The Invigilator.
Nicholas Riemer, co-founder of The Invigilator.

The Invigilator, an app used to monitor online and remote assessments, has garnered over half a million tertiary student users from across SA.

According to a statement from the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), the disruptive edtech platform has conducted over 1.5 million assessments since inception.

It is the number one most downloaded educational application in SA from 2021 to date, it says.

Launched in 2020, the tool mitigates the risk of unethical behaviour during online assessments and examinations, using non-invasive artificial intelligence (AI) to prohibit collusion and cheating.

It is used by students and examiners to mitigate non-venue-based assessment and exam risks, through mobile phone proctoring.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a prevalence of dishonesty and misconduct during tests, exams and assessments among surveyed South African higher learning institutions, according to the Council on Higher Education.

This occurred as scores of students across the country took to online learning platforms to catch up with lost learning time during the hard lockdown.

The app, co-founded by local chartered accountant Nicholas Riemer, is used by 20 education entities, including the University of South Africa, University of Johannesburg and University of Cape Town.

“The Invigilator was built so that South African universities and schools can move to continuous assessment, improving teaching and learning in South Africa,” explains Riemer.

“The creation of the app meant students could continue writing exams and assessments remotely while in lockdown, and it can reduce the cost of education going forward due to no physical venue constraints.”

It allows examiners to choose from a variety of risk mitigating tools, including photo authentication, speech recording, GPS and script comparison tools, matched to the level of security required for each assessment. The app uses AI to authenticate photos, as well as flag any suspicious behaviour.

Students need an entry-level smartphone to run the application and educational institutions pay a fee to use the service.

According to Riemer, developed with SA’s socio-economic challenges in mind, the application does not need internet connection, allowing it to work anywhere in the country and enabling students from any location that is convenient to them.

Riemer was named SAICA’s 2021 Top 35 under-35 overall winner and says he is working to constantly to improve the app, adding more features. He hopes it will eventually become the most downloaded app across all categories.

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