A recent article on Vox.com addresses the mounting concerns resulting from the explosion of online testing services. While the article speaks primarily to privacy concerns, it also exposes several other dilemmas created by the ever-increasing use of online proctoring services. Online privacy is important, but to the individual student affected by these programs, the other issues are much more immediate, with very tangible effects. Vox reports that “Several US senators have … request[ed] more information about privacy, bias, and accessibility concerns raised” by the programs.
It is sadly ironic to read reports of bias in automated (no humans) online testing--it would seem that artificial intelligence would offer the best hope of unbiased evaluation. Unfortunately, computer programs reflect the biases of their programmers. Vox relates how the algorithm used by Proctorio, one of the largest online proctors, “seemed to struggle to recognize [a student], a sign that its software could be racially biased.” Additionally, remote proctoring is biased against those whose socioeconomic status does not allow for the quiet, private spaces that proctor services mandate.
At the University of Colorado Boulder, Proctorio failed an accessibility audit, but the school continues to use the software. US Senator Richard Blumenthal and others have asked these companies about accessibility issues in their services. Blumenthal called for remote testing companies to “swiftly remedy alarming equity, accessibility, and privacy issues.”
Once flagged by testing software, the teacher responsible for the test is supposed to review the incident, using the audio, video, and computer desktop recordings captured by the service. But how likely is it that they simply click the button to confirm cheating and forward an accusation of academic misconduct to the institution? At Miami University, the student senate “called for school legislation that would require teachers to undergo training before using Proctorio.” And this only works at a school that has updated its procedures and policies to reflect the use of online testing. A spokesman for the University of California--Berkeley admits the school “has not adapted its Code of Student Conduct for the remote semester.” In response to the same failure at their school, “the student government at Cal Poly Pomona has advocated for policies for regulating teachers’ use of the software.”
If problems with remote proctoring services have exposed you to injustice, you need a champion that will protect your rights. If you are confronted with allegations of cheating online, remember these tips:
1) Don't try to defend yourself in the moment--saying anything can hurt your position; 2) Get copies of any evidence the administration has; 3) Ask what proctoring service the school uses and what features or level was used during the incident; and 4) Read and understand the institution's policies regarding academic misconduct, specifically regarding online instruction. Most importantly, get an experienced attorney-advisor in your corner.
Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm fight to protect students from unfair online testing. To ensure the best outcome, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today.