Amid widespread remote learning and remote test-taking during the ongoing pandemic, a group of Western University students in London has begun lobbying the school to stop using the Proctortrack anti-cheating software in administering tests, citing privacy violations. At least one school within the university has listened to them. Western's Ivey Business School has announced they will stop using Proctortrack, opting instead to monitor testing via Zoom in tandem with other software platforms like Learn Quizzes and Turnitin. Other schools and departments have no plans to discontinue the use of Proctortrack, however.
What makes Proctortrack controversial is its use of identity verification protocols to safeguard against cheating—a method many students feel is a violation of their privacy. The concerns have been heightened even further since Proctortrack suffered a security breach last fall. While the software claims to be over 99 percent accurate at its highest levels—making it highly attractive for schools—students feel they are being forced to take unnecessary risks with their personal information.
A Growing Debate, Fueled by False Flagging
Western University is just one of many schools where students are raising concerns with proctoring platforms—and in some cases, they're not just lobbying for change: they are outright rebelling with protests and more. As the Washington Post reports, students at multiple colleges across the country are raising concerns about anti-cheating software. In most of these cases, the primary issue is the oversensitivity of the programs in attempting to identify the signs of cheating. Students claim they have been flagged for finishing tests too quickly (or slowly), moving their gaze a certain way, moving their head “abnormally,” over-clicking the mouse, and much more. Some students claim remote test-taking now fills them with anxiety because every movement is scrutinized. Some even claim they have urinated at their desk at home for fear of leaving the view of their webcams.
A Fine Line
This controversy raises serious questions about the balance between cheating prevention and students' rights. Do students truly have to put their personal information at risk in order to convince teachers they are not cheating? While there is an inherent need to safeguard the integrity of online learning, should it come at the cost of a student's mental well-being? Do schools bear any responsibility if the anxiety of remote test-taking causes a student to underperform? Most importantly, what happens when a student is falsely accused of cheating because the software “detected” a facial expression or an eye shift that it considered “suspicious?” There are no easy solutions at this point, but at the same time, some adjustments need to be made in order to keep honest students from being falsely accused—or worse, make them reluctant to take tests at all.
If you have ben wrongly accused of cheating due to a fluke in an anti-cheating software—or if you feel your rights as a student have otherwise been violated—the Lento Law Firm can help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped thousands of students deal successfully with school discipline issues across the country. To learn more, call 888-535-3686.