Online assessments can enable instructors to provide greater accessibility and flexibility for students, eliminating the need to schedule in-person, fixed-time exams, while continuing to enact pedagogical goals. Online testing is one assessment option that instructors may choose depending upon their curricular needs. Some online tests may require online proctoring to meet accreditation requirements or to help enhance the integrity of the assessment process. These tools, however, must be selected and used carefully so as to ensure equity, efficacy, and student privacy.
Following a competitive request for proposals in 2017, the University of Minnesota invested in Proctorio, an automated and scalable remote proctoring system. Proctorio has the ability during online exams to: lock down the web browser; leverage machine learning; and track facial movement, audio, and screen data to monitor students based on the settings an instructor selects. Instructors can then review the recordings that the program flags at a later time to determine if there are any concerns.
Proctorio was selected based on cost, integration with Canvas, greater usability, faster turn-around of results, and lower intrusiveness compared with live online proctoring options. It is important, however, to be cognizant of the strengths and limitations of Proctorio. To successfully use Proctorio, instructors should take the time to understand the available settings, how to interpret the results (e.g., “false positives”), and be prepared for a small percentage of students who need to consult tech support during an exam. Students who use assistive technology, are studying while living in other countries, or who have poor internet connections may also have difficulty using Proctorio. This guidance is meant to help instructors determine if this tool is appropriate for their situation and, if so, to provide guidance and suggestions for implementation.
Assessment options and proctoring alternatives
The Office of Information Technology and Center for Educational Innovation staff provide assistance to those who are putting together online assessments and may be considering Proctorio or other solutions. Both units encourage instructors to look at multiple assessment options for students that may not require proctoring, and be just as effective. These include open book exams, writing assignments, essay exams, and communicating expectations for academic integrity including integrating an honor code into the class expectations. More suggestions are available from the Create Online Assessments webpage.
Proctorio and e-proctoring best practices
If it is determined that an e-proctoring solution is preferred, we encourage instructors to consider and adopt best practices, including:
- Consider whether Proctorio, Respondus or some other solution, is a better fit for your needs. Recommended and Non-recommended Use Cases for Proctorio is a good place to start.
- Review the Proctorio resource: Instructor Welcome Packet (requires entry of an email address).
- Choose your settings thoughtfully. When possible, select the least intense monitoring level that is required for your assignment, allow “re-entry” for students if there is a dropped connection and set the initial severity of suspicion as lenient. Refer to Canvas: Use Proctorio with Canvas Classic Quiz for full instructions.
- Bear in mind that there is a significant learning curve associated with the use of Proctorio, for both you and your students. If possible, ensure that students take low-stakes assessments prior to using Proctorio on a high-stakes exam.
- Inform students when they register (and in the syllabus) that the course will be using e-proctoring. Explain to students what Proctorio does, why it requires significant control of their computers, and how the class will use it.
- Provide students with information about what they will need to effectively use Proctorio (i.e., reliable internet connection, computer with webcam, a quiet, well-lit place to take the exam, Chrome browser, installing the Proctorio Chrome extension, how to reach Proctorio tech support). Proctorio resources to address their questions can include: Helpful Tips for Test Takers, Proctorio FAQ, and Guide for Test Takers. Let students know that they can take their exam in computer labs on campus or in other on-campus spaces with their own laptops if they prefer.
- Be conscious of accessibility needs of students: Some students requiring accommodations benefit from the additional scheduling and location flexibility offered by Proctorio while others with specific disabilities have encountered barriers that required work-arounds in conjunction with Disability Resource Center staff. Offer alternative assessments (if possible) for students who would prefer not to use e-proctoring or who do not have access to the technology and space requirements needed for optimal use of Proctorio.
- Develop a troubleshooting or support plan for students should they experience issues with Canvas or Proctorio during the examination period. Refer to Proctorio: Student Guide.
Proctorio and e-proctoring privacy
Important information about privacy for those using Proctorio and e-proctoring:
- Proctorio does not use machine-based facial recognition (i.e., does not try to match images of a student with a preexisting photo) as some e-proctoring applications do. Rather, Proctorio uses facial detection to identify when students are looking away from their computer, which is an indicator students may be looking at other materials or devices.
- Proctorio staff do not have the ability to view student recordings (only U of M instructors, TAs, and designated IT staff can do so). Proctorio uses triple encryption.
- Proctorio staff do not have access to personally identifiable student data, and they do not sell it.
- Proctorio does not determine whether or not a student committed academic dishonesty nor does it remove students from the exam for behavioral movements. It only “flags” suspicious incidents that instructors and TAs may later review.
- Proctorio does not continue to run after the exam has ended; instead it has been designed to terminate on a student’s computer after an exam.
- Proctorio was approved for use at the U of M following a review by OIT’s security group before the contract was signed. Proctorio continues to use a third party audit firm to oversee its security practices.
- Proctorio would not be classified as spyware or malware that has been maliciously inserted on a computer to surreptitiously “spy” on students.