Note from the editors: While we don’t publish pieces written by corporations, Proctorio requested the ability to respond to Lee Skallerup-Bessette’s blog post from earlier this month and we agreed as we originally published Lee’s post at UVenus. We do not endorse Proctorio.
Recently, Dr. Lee Skallerup-Bessette published a blog post at University of Venus on the expansion of online remote proctoring solutions in the wake of COVID-19 and the potential negative impacts these solutions may have on students’ privacy. We acknowledge and respect the expressed concerns, which is why we designed our software with industry leading safeguards to protect student privacy.
In her blog post, Bessette references the opinion piece, “Our Bodies Encoded: Algorithmic Test Proctoring in Higher Ed” on remote proctoring solutions. However, we believe that there are several issues with the source article that have already been addressed, separately, with the author, Shea Swauger.
In his piece, Swauger states that all remote proctoring software utilize facial recognition technology. However, Proctorio utilizes facial detection technology. Facial recognition is a biometric measurement and collection of an individual's unique facial geometry. Unlike some of our competitors, Proctorio does not collect biometric information. Biometric information can include facial recognition, keystroke fingerprinting, or voice recognition. Proctorio’s facial detection notifies the instructor if a student looks away from the exam for too long, to detect if the student leaves the testing environment, or if a secondary face is present within the testing environment.
There have also been a number of misconceptions, not only on what kind of technology we use, but on how Proctorio is used by instructors and institutions. Instructors have the ability to create separate exams and enable different Proctorio settings to accommodate students with disabilities, difficult home environments, or those who experience exam anxiety. The Proctorio software does not dictate what is considered “normal behavior”. The instructor is then able to review the exam attempt by the student and make the final decision on whether or not the behavior actually infringes their exam’s integrity.
It is important to note that Proctorio is committed to conforming to WCAG 2.1 AA standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and EN 301 549 Accessibility requirements in Europe. Our VPAT is publicly available and can be accessed here.
Skallerup-Bessette also references fidgeting in her blog post. We want to stress that within Proctorio, “fidgeting” is not considered a behavioral flag. Proctorio is designed to identify behavior within an exam environment; we leave the exam settings and decisions regarding academic integrity to the instructor. Instructors would be able to identify the difference between a student fidgeting and a student looking through notes on their lap, communicating with another person in the room or using another device, just as they would within a classroom setting. An excellent example of this exists at a health professions school within the same university that employs Swauger, that has used Proctorio for over 5 years. Based on their assessment of flagged students, there is no evidence that students with any accommodation or disability are flagged at a higher rate than other students taking the same exam.
Most of the previous points lead to an important distinction, which lies in the relationship between Proctorio, test-taker data, and the partner institution. The institution plays the role of the data controller. The instructor and the institution enable the settings on each assessment and review the results. Proctorio makes no determination regarding student behavior, nor do we have access to or control over the exam information.
It may be important to note that there is a potential threat to society when students are not expected to meet integrity standards set forth by their institution. The healthcare setting is a prime example of this. When a healthcare provider is not held to the highest standards of academic integrity, people’s lives are at risk. By protecting academic integrity, institutions can rest assured that the value of their degrees, and future patients, are protected.
We would like to avoid the spread of false information about Proctorio and thank the University of Venus for the opportunity to respond. We believe that the misinformation within previously published articles may lead to misconceptions about our product, damage our reputation and invoke anxiety or concern in students, instructors, and educational institutions who are current customers or may be considering adopting a remote proctoring solution.
We believe that Proctorio should be differentiated from its competitors as it takes a proactive approach to protecting student privacy and we would like that made clear to all students, instructors and institutions around the globe.
The Proctorio Team