Students resist attempts to prevent cheating during online tests

by Grace

Students object to software designed to prevent cheating during online exams.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Students at Rutgers University are balking at a new biometric software used in online classes that requires them to record their facial features, knuckles and photo ID.

ProctorTrack, implemented for online courses this year, requires students to record their face, knuckle and personal identification details to verify their identity. The software then tracks students’ monitor, browser, webcam and microphone activity during the session to prevent cheating on exams, according to The Daily Targum – Rutgers’ student newspaper.

Students are mainly concerned about privacy issues, although the unexpected activation fee is also considered a problem.

The software and its implementation – which went largely unnoticed because the university did not notify students of the change until after the add-drop period ended – are now raising serious privacy concerns among some students. Others started a Change.org petition to stop the use of ProctorTrack over a $32 activation fee imposed on unwitting students taking classes online.

“Emails about mandating the use of ProctorTrack were sent out during the THIRD WEEK of classes,” School of Arts and Sciences senior Betsy Chao wrote on the Change.org petition. “It was already too late to drop classes and so, students essentially have NO choice but to pay the fee.”

That failure to notify student could be a violation of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, according to media reports.

The biggest concerns, however, seem to center on apparent privacy and security risks.

According to The Daily Targum, “many students are unsure if the ProctorTrack system efficiently secures recorded student data.

“The system’s security measures are not particularly clear. Combined with ProctorTrack’s young age — the system was literally patented several weeks ago — potential security vulnerabilities within the ProctorTrack system remain an open question.

Other proctoring software such as Examity and ExamGuard monitor test-takers by video taping and/or locking parts of their browser functions.

As expected, ways to evade this monitoring software have been posted online.

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Victor Skinner, “Students object to online courses recording facial features, knuckles, voice”, EAGnews.org, February 20, 2015.

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4 Comments to “Students resist attempts to prevent cheating during online tests”

  1. Cheating in online courses is rampant. We are adopting a system that makes the students take their tests in front of a webcam

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  2. This kind of monitoring is long overdue, and it seems to have promise in cutting down on cheating.

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  3. The students have a valid concern about their privacy. Universities have, as a group, not been stellar about protecting personal information.

    There’s still the old-fashioned way of doing things, e.g., having on-line students go on campus to take exams.

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  4. “having on-line students go on campus to take exams”

    A good solution in some cases, but is hard for students who live at a distance. Although, proctoring centers located in various cities can probably accommodate most out-out-town students.

    We give out so much personal information to so many institutions. I don’t know if universities have been worse than others at being careless with our data.

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