Spying Proctors

With the rise in remote learning, partially due to COVID, there have been a fair number of companies working to get in on this new way of education. Many colleges and universities have purchased service agreements with electronic proctoring companies in order to achieve some form of honesty amongst test-takers. However, the means by which these companies are conducting themselves have run afoul of the law. Monica Chin at The Verge has a story about one student who fought back.

Chemistry student Aaron Ogletree sat for an online test in the spring 2021 semester. Ogletree was asked to show the virtual proctor his bedroom through his webcam prior to the beginning of the test. A recording of the room scan as well as the testing process that followed was retained by Honorlock, the university’s third-party vendor.

Ogletree sued the university on the grounds that the practice violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment, which protects US citizens against “unreasonable searches and seizures”. The university, in defense, argues that “room scans are ‘standard industry wide practice’”, and that “students frequently acquiesce in their use.”

The Verge

There have been a fair number of stories surfacing in the past couple of years regarding the invasive monitoring of students taking tests remotely. This is big business. A press release on MarketWatch pegs this as a multi-billion dollar market by 2030.

This "service" has both a person watching what you do, paired with software "watching" for things you may do that are suspicious. However, someone watching everything 100% of the time in your own private space IS invasive. Of course, when there's not a global pandemic it's easy to require students to take proctored tests in public spaces. But that is not practical for everyone.

The intentions of academic honesty are well-intentioned. This for-profit way of going about it is certainly not the answer.