Western University to switch remote exam proctoring software, privacy concerns remain

Western University in London, Ont., will be switching to another remote exam proctoring software over the summer.

In an email sent out to students on Friday, the university said it has chosen Proctorio to be its new proctoring system as it transitions away from its current system, Proctortrack.

“Proctorio was chosen because it addresses the privacy and security needs of our students while meeting the technical requirements to integrate with Western’s systems,” the email read.

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Western introduced remote proctoring when COVID-19 began impacting in-person classes to prevent academic offences, such as cheating on tests or exams.

Systems such as Proctortrack prevent academic offences by accessing the computer’s connected device list, desktop screen, web cameras and microphone.

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This prompted students to raise privacy concerns, but Proctortrack was still implemented and used throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

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One of the student organizations that expressed privacy concerns was Western’s Policy Pitch Association (PPA), which says switching over to Proctorio is not ideal.

“It’s still invasive, so it’s disheartening to see Western not to try and find something new but instead, switch to a new one,” said Jack Burke, the co-president of PPA.

Burke, who used Proctorio for his Law School Admission Test (LSAT) exam, said it felt uncomfortable at times knowing the system was watching.

“It monitors your whole room, it’s recording your sound the whole time and you have to move your camera around to show your setting,” he explained.

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“I was concerned (that), ‘am I doing something that’s throwing (the system) off that may think I’m cheating?’”

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The school assures that Proctorio cannot access personal files or system settings on users’ devices.

“While it uses facial detection to detect if the test taker is looking away, leaves the room or if other people are present, it does not use facial recognition or track eye movements,” read the email from Western.

Western says the transition to Proctorio will take place over the summer so it’s ready for use in the fall term.

–With files from 980 CFPL’s Andrew Graham

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