A comprehensive University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) research report into the university’s use of these online test and exam monitoring services has exposed concerns around privacy of student data – both through recent breaches and a lack of clear privacy information from the University. The Report on Online Proctoring Services also cited inconsistencies in implementation and the detrimental impacts these softwares can have on student confidence during examinations.
Unlike the university’s decision to allow students to opt out of the plagiarism-checking service Turnitin.com, no such option is available when using third-party proctoring services. Guaranteeing such a right to all students would give them greater agency over their privacy, device permissions, and data.
“Students have raised concerns about third-party proctoring services since the shift to online learning,” said Tyler Riches, Vice-President Public and University Affairs of the UTSU. “As is the case with Turnitin, students should have the right to opt-out of using third-party online proctoring services during the already stressful completion of a test or exam.”
The report also noted that online proctoring only intensifies the inaccessibility of online learning among low-income students and those in different time zones by requiring them to complete assessments with normal time constraints but without access to adequate internet connectivity or computer software.
The UTSU has made five specific recommendations with regard to third-party proctoring to University of Toronto central administrators, faculty administrators, program departments, and course instructors:
- Students in all academic divisions should be guaranteed the right to refuse to use a third-party online proctoring service, similar to students’ right to refuse to use Turnitin.com despite instructions from their instructor.
Similar to the use of Turnitin.com, if an instructor mandates the use of a third-party online proctoring service, they must indicate so in the course syllabus, state that its usage is not mandatory, and indicate that an alternative option is available.
- An Information Notice for Examity should be published and made available on the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation website as soon as possible.
- An Information Notice for ExamSoft should be published and made available on the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation website as soon as possible.
- The University of Toronto, and the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation, should provide more information regarding the University’s contract and relationship with ExamSoft, and the policies and procedures that govern the use of ExamSoft’s services, and should make this information available on the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation website as soon as possible.
- The University of Toronto should provide and make available more information regarding authorizations by the University or third-party proctoring services for the use of student data by other third-parties.
The full UTSU Report On Online Proctoring Services can be downloaded here.