Automated proctoring swept during epidemics. Despite the concerns, it is almost likely to persist

The most controversial new technology tool for colleges since the onset of the epidemic is automated proctoring, which aims to detect fraud in online exams using algorithms that allow students to look through their webcams and find suspicious patterns of behavior – often sending clips of suspicious moments to professors for later review.

In the last few months alone The law student filed a lawsuit against the automated proctoring company, Student Has been reported About their use in student newspaper editorials and professors He was compared to Big Brother.

Those complaints are at the top of an earlier pushback, including a petition campaign in which the signatures of thousands of students have sunk against this approach, A statement The University of Michigan in Dearborn said the organization will not use automated procturing tools, and the prototyping company, ProctorU, has decided not to sell software that uses algorithms to detect fraud – although it still sells services that work remotely to humans. Proctors to work.

Despite all this opposition and the fact that colleges are returning to teaching individually, sales of prototyping software have skyrocketed. A Recent academic studies Sixty-three percent of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada use remote prototyping on their websites.

And some analysts looking at the Adtech space expect colleges to continue signing up for services so that they can become an option for professors to use.


We are publishing a series of epidemiological approaches to shaping higher education. See our related article, “Pandemic Push Colleges to Record Lectures. The Practice May Here to Stay.”


Tracey Urdan, managing director of Titan Partners, an education consultancy and consulting firm, says: “The story with a lot of adtech is that the epidemic has increased a lot and adoption is based on land once and for all. [teaching] Goes back. “

One of the reasons colleges are holding proctoring tools, Urdan adds, is that many colleges plan to expand their online course offerings even after campus activities become normal. And also saw the epidemic The rapid rise of the second tech trend: Students use websites to cheat in exams.

“There’s a lot of concern in High Ed about Cheg and of course the hero,” says Urdan, “who admits that everyone is a tool of deception.”

Officials at Chegg and Course Hero, for their part, argue that their services are not intended as fraudulent devices and point to acceptable use policies and other efforts to prevent fraud. But the marketing language of companies promises simple answers to struggling students, and many students say they have a reputation for being a deceptive tool. Professors, on the other hand, blame these companies for starting the arms race that created the market for automated prototyping in the first place.

Rethinking the test

Opponents of automated proctoring report many objections.

Some say that the system often leads to false positives, stresses the testing process, and invades privacy. And dark skin tone This can be especially difficult For algorithms, raising equity concerns about technology. Yet others have turned their attention to knowledgeable students Can still find ways to find snooping software.

The controversy has led some professors to advocate for designing assignments that make it difficult for students to find answers online – such as project-based work. And others have worked to protect academic integrity without using proctoing tools.

Professor at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County A similar idea was mooted at the recent Educause edtech conference In Philadelphia.

He used a feature of the blackboard learning-management system to randomize questions for the introductory chemistry exam.

“We randomly divide the students into four groups,” says Tara Carpenter, a lecturer at UMBC who taught the course. “We said using the settings on the blackboard that Group 1 is about to start [questions in] Group A, “she added, adding that they had four groups of questions and the questions in each group were given in random order.

“We were trying to do what we could so that if two students sit together thinking that they will take the exam at the same time, it will not be of any use to them,” she added.

Despite all these efforts, some students used Chegg to cheat, posted exam questions on the site, and were answered by a paid expert (according to Carpenter, the site guarantees answers within half an hour).

She says, “We were checking Chegg to see if anyone posted after each test,” and when they found a couple, they asked Chegg to reveal the identities of the students who posted the questions. “A waiting period is required to get information from Cheg,” she adds. But she said that by looking at which question was posted at that time, one can understand who posted that question. “We often found out who the cheater was before Cheg came back to us.”

Most of the students who used Chegg to cheat did so out of “frustration” because they weren’t passing the finals, says Sarah Bass, another UMBC lecturer who helped develop random chemistry exams. She emphasizes that most students are honest, but teachers still want to make the process as fair as possible.

The carpenter agrees. “There is a mentality of some teachers who think that default is to deceive students,” she says. “It’s actually a very small fraction of the students who cheat based on my experience.”

Professors originally tried to use remote procturing software, adopted a system built by Respondus that monitors students and activities, and allowed instructors to lock remote students’ browsers so they could not open other windows.

But when they found that many students could not use the software because it was not compatible with Chromebooks, they abandoned this approach. And some students complained of putting software on their computers. Says Bass, “Students have their own concerns about having to download and use this software on their personal devices.

The professors decided that extra efforts should be made to avoid prototyping software. Carpenter says, “One of the things we love most is the equity for students.

One question that other professors will try is that they will usually choose the simplest answer to remote software.

Officers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison Renewed their agreement with the Auto Procter Provider, Even after more than 2,000 people on campus Signed the petition Appeal to ban technology on campus. A university spokesman told the student newspaper that the number of professors using the tool had dropped “significantly” since the spring.

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