Okay, let us be real about something: life has been drastically different since COVID-19, and I am not referring to the masks or the need to quarantine. It is no surprise that in today’s remote learning world more Mt. SAC students than ever before are studying and testing remotely through Canvas. With this increase in usage of our LMS comes an increase of usage of its integrated tools, and one of those tools is Proctorio.
A Bit About Proctorio: Secure Exam Proctoring in Canvas
Proctorio is an online exam proctoring tool that has been integrated into Canvas at Mt. SAC for a few years now. The goal of this tool is to help provide the instructor with information in order to help them (the instructor) make a determination on whether any sort of cheating may have taken place. Proctorio does not make any determinations, and thus will not restrict students from completing a quiz or exam based on data recorded during the exam attempt.
Funding for this tool has been provided at the state level via the California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI). Proctorio was selected as the CCC’s online academic integrity partner through a competitive proposal process, that included comparing it against other online proctoring tools. I have extensive experience using this tool. I have sat in the student’s seat in the past and taken exams where this tool was utilized, and I have also worked closely with Proctorio on the deployment and support of this tool for our users, both faculty and students alike. I would like to take a little bit of time to debunk some myths surrounding the use of tools such as this one. But first, I want to make it clear that I advocate, first and foremost, for our students but also for academic integrity and for the sharing of accurate information in general.
MYTH: Online Exam Proctoring is Required!
FACT: At Mt. SAC, no instructor is required to use Proctorio when conducting online quizzes or exams through Canvas. Using this tool is completely optional and at the discretion of the instructor. The truth is Proctorio takes some effort to understand and deploy properly, not to mention providing accurate information surrounding the use of this tool to their students. For example, as a tool, Proctorio can be configured to require a webcam during the exam, but this is one of many lockdown options available for instructors within Proctorio. The keyword here is “options”. Just because Proctorio can use a camera, does not mean it has to. Proctorio as a tool does its part by offering several different lockdown options for each exam, and most of them don’t require a webcam at all! It is up to the instructor to determine the appropriate lockdown options for each of their exams, and thus it is important for them to communicate with their students if and when they will be requiring the use of a webcam during their exam(s).
It is also important for instructors to share a process with their students if students have any concerns or issues with taking an exam with Proctorio, even if that process is simply to contact you with their concern or issue so you can try to work out a mutually agreeable solution. If an instructor determines that it would be reasonable to provide an exception to a student then the tool can be disabled outright for the specific student on that specific exam or quiz.
MYTH: Proctorio is Always Watching!
FACTS, which have been confirmed by Proctorio:
- Proctorio is only active during your exam attempt in Canvas, that’s it.
- Everything that Proctorio captures during the exam goes into a report, and only the course instructor has access to that report. That’s it. Nobody at Proctorio has access. Ever.
Proctorio offers additional security measures, such as end-to-end encryption (E2EE), and also has a breakdown of the Chrome permissions Proctorio requires (and why it requires them) on their Privacy webpage, but I felt it was very important that the two above points were made especially clear.
Academic Integrity Matters but Student Concerns Do Too
Students pay good money for a college education, and the truth is that cheating on an exam lowers the value of their education. Academic integrity is important, which is why a tool like Proctorio exists, especially in today’s remote teaching landscape. However, with it’s increased usage, students have expressed some concerns.
The FCLT recently coordinated a meeting that was intended to be a Q&A session between Proctorio and student representatives where they could voice their concerns surrounding Proctorio. A good portion of that meeting was spent debunking myths about how the tool operates. By the end of the meeting, after discovering how much of the control rests with the instructor, students felt much better about using an online exam proctoring tool so long as Mt. SAC instructors were transparent with their students about the use of the tool. In addition, students felt instructors should offer a process to provide reasonable exceptions for students who still have concerns or issues about tools such as Proctorio.
Our Next Steps:
We are working closely with the Academic Support and Achievement Center (ASAC) on adding Proctorio information for students in the Mountie Student Hub that clearly explains the following and that we hope will help to clarify confusion about the tool. We will also notify professors that this information is available and encourage them to share it with students.
- what the tool is
- how it works
- what access it has and doesn’t have on students’ computers
- how to prepare for an exam with it
- how to get help if students have issues
- what to do if students have concerns about taking an exam with specific Proctorio settings
- The FCLT is also working on updating Proctorio information for professors and most importantly communicating that information to them via multiple channels as well as making the information easy to find. We will include information on what options they have with Proctorio, where to find information to provide to students (in the Mountie Student hub), and recommendations for when and how to provide that information to students.
- On 10/14 and 10/20, Proctorio will be providing 1-hour training sessions for Mt. SAC faculty on using Proctorio. Please keep an eye on the POD calendar for exact dates and times!