Is Online Test-Monitoring Here to Stay?

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(In a survey of college instructors conducted early in the pandemic, ninety-three per cent expressed concern that students would be more likely to cheat on online exams.) Some of these companies offer live proctoring underwritten by artificial intelligence. Fully algorithmic test-monitoring—which is less expensive, and available from companies including Proctorio, ExamSoft, and Respondus Monitor—has expanded even faster.

When college campuses shut down in March, 2020, remote-proctoring companies such as Proctorio, ProctorU, Examity, and ExamSoft benefitted immediately. Proctorio’s list of clients grew more than five hundred per cent, from four hundred in 2019 to twenty-five hundred in 2021, according to the company, and its software administered an estimated twenty-one million exams in 2020, compared with four million in 2019.

These include ProctorU, which said, in December, that it had administered roughly four million exams in 2020 (up from 1.5 million in 2019), and Examity, which told Inside Higher Ed that its growth last spring exceeded pre-pandemic expectations by thirty-five per cent. Sebastian Vos, the C.E.O. "What we will own is that we have not done a good enough job explaining what it is we do," he said. Jarrod Morgan, the chief strategy officer of ProctorU, told me that his company was in need of "relational" rather than technical changes.

of ExamSoft, denied that his company’s product performed poorly with dark-skinned people. "A lot of times, there are issues that get publicly printed that are not actually issues," he said. Last spring, during a Zoom meeting with a professor, Yemi-Ese learned that the software had flagged him for moving too much. "I feel like I can’t take a test in my natural state anymore, because they’re watching for all these movements, and what I think is natural they’re going to flag," he told me.

"I had to try to calm down," he said. (Proctorio says that its software does not expel users from exams for noise.) By the time his professor let him back into the test, he had lost a half hour and his heart was racing. So I don’t know if it’s seeing things that aren’t there because of the pigment of my skin." He feared that, if he showed physical signs of anxiety, Proctorio was "going to send the video to the professor and say that suspicious activity is going on." The software, he said, "is just not accurate.

His dread of the software only increased after he was kicked out of an exam when a roommate dropped a pot in the kitchen, making a clang that rang through their apartment. Despite these preparations, "I know that I’m going to have to try a couple times before the camera recognizes me," he said. "I have a light beaming into my eyes for the entire exam," he said.


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