New England Amateur Radio Inc (NE1AR) in collaboration with New England Sci-Tech in Natick, MA, has authorization of the ARRL VEC and the FCC to administer fully online video-supervised exams. These non-profit educational organizations, founded by Bob Phinney, K5TEC, and Ted Reimann, W1OG, and managed by a board of directors, support STEM education for all ages with an emphasis on amateur radio.
Bob and Ted began a series of trials on April 1, 2020, under ARRL VEC review and are now supervising a team that provides ARRL approved video-supervised test sessions almost every day of the week. They are also training other ARRL-vetted teams across the country and are working with the software developer of the exam delivery system, ExamTools.org and HamStudy.org, to help them streamline the system for video-supervised testing.
At the moment only one person at a time can be tested, which limits the number of candidates and adds significant time to the VE team’s schedule. An additional time issue is how long it takes a candidate to go through the security protocol involving video-checking the candidate’s work area and room, reading the protocols, getting the electronic surveillance set correctly, etc. Sometimes the setup and followup for an exam takes longer than the exam itself, in order to provide complete integrity of the exam session.
According to Bob Phinney, “People have to understand that we have over a hundred people in the queue, so they have to be patient. We give priority to people who take our online ham courses, then to Amateur Extra candidates who need to test before June 30, and then to local clubs, then to general public.”