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Knowledgebase: Online Assessment
Smart Exam Monitor (SEM) - For Instructors
Last modified on 07 November 2022 12:24 PM

What is SEM?

Smart Exam Monitor (or SEM) allows instructors to remotely proctor online exams. It is a 3rd party external tool that is deployed inside the eClass hosting environment and is approved by U of A Security and Privacy.


It can be used in conjunction with:

SEM can be used as a monitoring solution for other web-based activities.

How it works

SEM uses the student's webcam and microphone to confirm their identity then record them during a remote exam attempt. Their onscreen activity is also recorded and the system intelligently monitors for suspicious activities.

Requirements for using SEM

  • Desktop or laptop computer (i.e. Windows, macOS)
  • Chromebooks are supported, but iPads and tablets are not. (i.e. No iOS or Android, etc)
  • Google Chrome Browser

Please note: SEM does NOT function reliably at the same time as the LabConnect software that provisions most on-campus computer labs. Instructors arrange for a different proctoring mechanism in those environments.


Determining whether to use SEM

Guidelines for delivering remote exams

SEM known Issues, system limitations, and recommendations


Adding SEM to your course (2 methods)

(Video: Setting Up SEM for base eClass Exams)

(Conventional method) With Editing turned on, click on the Activity Chooser and click on the icon for the Smart Exam Monitor.


(Old method): Screenshot below. It can be added via the 'External tool' if you select Smart Exam Monitor from the Preconfigured tool dropdown within the tool settings.

Sem tool dropdown


Configuring SEM (eClass Quiz Activity Example)

Now that you have added the SEM activity to your course, you can add SEM sessions within it to connect to an eClass quiz activity that you have created.

1. Click on your newly created SEM activity.


2. Click the '+ New Exam Session' button.

3. Complete the fields:

  • Exam Title (required): (Visible to students when session is toggled available.)
  • Description (required): (Visible to students when session is toggled available.) Create a brief or generic description for students.
  • Exam Instructions (required): (Visible to students when session is toggled available.) Write any special instructions or leave a generic statement.
  • Exam password: (Visible to students only after the SEM session start time is reached.) Enter the password for the activity SEM will launch. This remains hidden until SEM reaches its start time where students are given a button to copy the password or copy/paste it from the screen. Enter the password EXACTLY and be sure there are no leading or trailing spaces.
  • Date/Time Details: The date and start must be filled out completely, but the Time Zone setting should be ignored (all exam start times assume Mountain Daily or Standard time offset).
    • Any SEM session that is toggled 'Open to students' (see below) will allow them to complete the SEM setup on their device. Once complete, they will see a timer counting down until the Start time is reached at which time a Launch button (if an Exam URL is entered) will appear for them.
    • Start date and time MUST match EXACTLY with the quiz activity's (as in this example) or occur AFTER the quiz is open and available to students in eClass. A SEM session that 'launches' a closed or hidden quiz will cause confusion for students as they will not be able to being their exam and may not realize they need to refresh the quiz launch page after the actual start time in the quiz settings is reached.
  • Rec Duration (hrs): This specifies the maximum number of hours that SEM can record up to (i.e. this is NOT the same as the quiz length setting). This number should be your longest anticipated time for any test taker, including any accommodations + 30-60 minutes for potential issues. For example, if you have a 60 minute exam with a 2x time accommodation, you should set the recording duration to 3hrs. Students can add time if they require longer monitoring by clicking the Add Time button in the SEM tab. They can also disable the monitoring once their exam is complete (by closing the SEM browser tab).


 Exam Types (presets):

  • Open Book: For any eClass quiz where students are permitted access to course materials, online textbooks, or other resources.
    • Default toggles for this option:
      • AI Monitor (On)
      • Monitor Audio (Off)
      • Monitor Desktop (Off)
  • Closed Book (Full Screen) - recommended: For any eClass quiz or activity. Offers the highest security as it will force students into a full screen browser view. Any attempts to leave the exam browser tab will be flagged.
    • Can be used to launch Crowdmark,, Assign2, and static exam files hosted somewhere
    • Default toggles for this option:
      • AI Monitor (On)
      • Monitor Audio (Off)
      • Monitor Desktop (On)
  • ExamLock: For use with ExamLock
    • Popular use case for using this combination - Prevent desktop screenshots during exams and providing exam continuity in case of internet disruptions.
    • Default toggles for this option:
      • AI Monitor (On)
      • Monitor Audio (Off)
      • Monitor Desktop (Off) - ExamLock will handle this operation.

Monitoring Toggles:

The monitoring options determine (pre-set by the exam types above but still editable) what automatic flagging models are enabled:

  • AI Monitor: model uses the student webcam feed to identify and flag:
    • Use/presence of cell phones, laptops or other electronic devices
    • Other people in the room
    • Students who leave the testing area
  • Monitor Audio: model alerts for ANY audio activity (i.e. students communicating with one another). The system attempts to transcribe audio where possible.  Monitor Audio should be disabled if exam will display audio or requires a student to speak aloud. This .
  • Monitor Desktop: model will monitor and flag any navigation away from the exam or any Allowed sites. (Do not override the toggle to On for Open Book exams).



Exam URL: Entering a URL will give students a Launch button in SEM when the start date/time is reached. This URL can be anything you want students to immediately start with. The URL must begin with http:// , https:// , etc.

Start Exam Template: not required for eClass

End Exam Templatenot required for eClass

Allowed sites: Add any URL that a student is allowed to visit during an exam. e.g. Library, PDF files in your eClass course, certain external URL's. Leave blank if only the quiz is permitted.


4. Save when complete.

Once the exam session is saved, you may click Open to students. Students can begin the SEM setup process and can start the SEM monitoring (along with Launch and Copy Password buttons) during the time specified in the SEM session settings.

The session will have Edit and Proctor buttons available.



5. Recommended practices and settings in eClass:

  • Multiple SEM tool links can be added to a course so it may make sense to have monitoring session link for each different exam that needs to proctored. 
  • As an alternative to manually toggling sessions 'Open to students' shortly (or an hour) before the exam start time, it is possible to use access restriction settings to automate the visibility of the SEM tool link, ie. set the SEM session 'Open to students' on creation and limit access to the tool link to a certain time:

  • Access restrictions can be used to group students into specific SEM tool links (eg. separate tools for sub-sections of a consolidated course or a number of different AR tools).

  • Please note these additional warnings about using Access Restrictions in relation to time limits.
  • It is recommended that you only have SEM sessions with at most about 600 students using them. If there are more than that, then when you are proctoring exams, then you should make multiple SEM sessions for students to take the exam, perhaps separated by last name (e.g. a last name starts with A-M session and a last name starts with N-Z section, for example).
  • A quiz's availability setting can be set to 'Make available but not shown' so that students do not accidentally bypass the SEM process. (Screenshot below). If doing this, please note that any other course links to the quiz will also allow students to access it, ie. calendar, upcoming events, gradebook, so it is imperative that quizzes have passwords to ensure students don't accidentally access without initiating a monitoring session.



6. With all these items configured, once an exam start time is reached students will be ready to launch their monitoring session:



Please consult Proctoring and Reviewing SEM Exam Attempts for details on what to do during and after exam sessions.

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