Edtech Specialists Speak Out about Remote Testing Software

A growing split is emerging between remote proctoring services and the academics who use them, as teachers and students call out what they see as invasive tracking.

Proctorio is meant to help schools answer a newly urgent question: How do you catch cheaters when they’re taking an exam at home? The problem has inspired a growing business of remote proctoring services, which monitor students during their tests, since long before COVID-19.

Unlike services like Examity and ProctorU, which can put students in front of a live proctor, Proctorio is fully algorithmic, using what its website describes as “machine learning and advanced facial detection technologies.” The software is able to, through a student’s webcam, record them as they work, and monitor the position of their head to track whether they’re looking at their test. Proctorio flags any suspicious signs to professors, who can then go back and review its recordings. Instructors don’t have to use this feature — there are other tools, too. Professors can track what websites students are visiting during their exam and can bar them from features like copy / paste, multiple screens, or printing for the duration.

Since the beginning of the school year, many students have spoken out against the technology. Petitions with thousands of signatures have called it ableist and discriminatory, intrusive, unsafe, inaccessible, and huge invasion of privacy. Members of UBC’s population were vocally opposed to Proctorio throughout the summer, in both an open letter and UBC’s subreddit. (Olsen noted that “We have about 3.6 million active weekly students on the platform. There’s a lot of students who are using our product every day around the world and they’re not saying anything.”)

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