AMS suggests faculty not use Proctorio, remote invigilation tools in guidelines

The AMS released a set of guidelines suggesting instructors do not use Proctorio, when possible.

After months of controversy surrounding privacy and equity issues with Proctorio, the AMS in July released guidelines suggesting instructors do not use remote invigilation tools including Proctorio when possible.

Instructors adopted Proctorio and other exam invigilation softwares following cancellations of in-person exams in March. Controversy arose in June when the CEO of Proctorio publicly posted transcripts of a student’s conversation with a customer support worker on Reddit. On September 1, Proctorio also filed a civil claim against a UBC staff member, Ian Linkletter.

The AMS guidelines recommend that instructors consider approaches to academic integrity that do not involve remote invigilation tools and assume that learning, not academic misconduct, is a student’s objective. The guidelines suggest redesigning courses and assessments to reduce or eliminate the need for remote invigilation.

“[Instructors should] have meaningful conversations with students about the importance of academic integrity,” reads the guidelines. AMS VP Academic and University Affairs Georgia Yee did not provide comment after multiple requests.

Instructors should consider student concerns, the guidelines say.

“Consider how remote invigilation tools may create additional barriers and introduce inequities in the online learning atmosphere,” reads the report. “Algorithmic remote proctoring software may disproportionately flag students with disabilities and health needs and students with dependents.”

The report asks instructors to consider the added stress from having cameras in living spaces.

If invigilation tools are used in the course, the guidelines say this should be stated in the syllabus alongside a rationale, and that it is the duty of the instructor, not TAs, to communicate this rationale — and what the tool does — to the class.

Remote invigilation as ‘insurance’

UBC has also released its principles for remote invigilation tools addressing student Proctorio concerns. “We recommend considering other approaches to academic integrity first, however, and limiting the use of remote invigilation tools where possible,” the report reads.

Yee said in a September 28 Reddit post that UBC’s principles were “not enough.”

Simon Bates, associate provost of teaching and learning, said in an emailed statement that the intention of the guidelines was to help faculty make informed decisions about ways to ensure academic integrity, noting that invigilation tools like Proctorio is one option.

“Faculty members have the autonomy to choose the methods, pedagogies and learning tools to support their own teaching goals: our role (and that of central and faculty-based learning support units) is to support, advise and consult,” said Bates.

Jason Woywada, Executive Director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, recognizes the academic integrity challenges post-secondary education faces.

“Post-secondary administrators and educators must provide testing that is fair, accurate and without cheating,” said Woywada. “When delivering tests remotely, these tools are a way for them to provide this insurance.”

However, Woywada noted that tests can be invasive. The key to ethically using the software lies in knowing and understanding its settings and how they work — something that instructors should be trained on, he said.

“Any of these programs can be privacy compliant or intrusive depending on the settings,” said Woywada. “And that’s why there are so many issues with these prospective programs. The questions are, how do we ensure that we know what these settings are? And how do we give consent?”

According to UBC’s Proctorio Student Guide, Proctorio complies with the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act: it stores all recordings in Canada with zero-knowledge encryption, meaning that the company does not have the key to decode the encryption. Additionally, only teaching staff have access to watch the videos.

UBC offers a Protorio instructor guide with a section explaining Proctorio behaviour settings. According to Bates, UBC offers tutorial instruction for faculty, and in-person assistance is available through the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology and local faculty instructional support units.

UBC’s Proctorio student guide gives further details to students on Proctorio settings in addition to advice on preparing for remotely invigilated exams.

“There are a lot of legitimate concerns with the use of these platforms,” said Woywada. “They need to be thought out. There needs to be meaningful consent. That is the key thing.”