We have completed the first days of teaching in a fully remote learning environment. In different ways, we are all scrambling to convert face-to-face courses to successful online experiences. Some of us are also thinking about how we should adapt courses that have used proctored quizzes and examinations as evaluation methods.
One suggested method has been online proctoring of exams. I want to be clear that Lehigh does not support, will not finance, and will not ask students to finance online proctoring. Except for graduate courses that have used online proctoring throughout the program, we ask that you do not use proctoring companies to proctor exams.
Although some faculty and students are comfortable with online proctoring, which relies on outside vendors to proctor exams by either recording or by live video proctoring by paid proctors, I see several major issues with this approach.
● No proctoring system—in a classroom or online—can completely eliminate academic dishonesty. Just as students who really want to cheat will find a way do so in the classroom, they will do so with online proctoring. There is no simple fix here. The best we can do is take reasonable measures to promote academic integrity and follow best practices that reduce the likelihood of academic integrity violations.
● Proctoring services are expensive. ProctorU, which is used by (and incorporated into the cost of) some graduate programs, costs $25 per hour for each student taking an exam. Paying for online proctoring for exams in a large course could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Again, it isn’t fair to pass these additional costs to our students, and I don’t believe it is the best use of university funds to pay for online proctoring from a central budget source.
● Both students and faculty have raised concerns about privacy, particularly with regard to vendors that use recording. Certainly before we approve a vendor for proctoring, we would want a careful review of privacy and security protocols, just as we do with any other piece of software. I don’t believe we are in a position to do this as quickly as we would need.
● I think it is difficult for us to be confident that these staff-intensive services are in a position to manage scale as they serve thousands of additional students during this time of transition at academic institutions worldwide.
● We have no way to guarantee that all students have the equipment required to make the online proctoring system work. With that in mind, a student who wished to beat the system could simply claim that they don’t have the technology or couldn’t get it to work, which would put us in the unfortunate position of proctoring the students who are least likely to cheat while not proctoring the students who are cheating.
I recognize that not using online exam proctoring may require additional changes to your course structure beyond teaching online, including a reexamination of your assessment of student learning. Modifications might include reducing high-stakes testing and/or randomizing test question order and using Course Site’s tool for limited-time questions. CITL has available a variety of resources to help you as you manage academic integrity issues and consider how to test students in your course. I encourage you to explore this LTS document, “Promoting Academic Integrity During Remote Learning.”
Whatever approach you take, you should stress with your students the importance of academic integrity and the benefits of acting in an upstanding way. Today, especially, as we face the many challenges related to the COVID-19 crisis, we are all keenly aware of the value of acting in the public good. As mentors and role models, we can communicate to our students that acting with integrity both in and out of the classroom is something we can do for ourselves and each other.