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Is Online Test-Monitoring Here to Stay?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. “What we will own is that we have not done a good enough job explaining what it is we do,” he said. “A lot of times, there are issues that get publicly printed that are not actually issues,” he said.
Sebastian Vos, the C.E.O. (The situation, in addition to its other challenges, deprived him of his usual light setup.) By the end of his senior year, Yemi-Ese was still struggling to get admitted to every Proctorio exam. Still, he managed to raise his grades back to pre-pandemic levels, even in classes that required Proctorio. He took several tests while displaced from his home by the winter storm that devastated Texas in February, which forced him to crash with a series of friends.
“After I figured out nothing was going to change, I guess I got numb to it,” he said. Yemi-Ese’s grades dropped precipitously early in the pandemic, a problem he attributed in large part to Proctorio. Despite these preparations, “I know that I’m going to have to try a couple times before the camera recognizes me,” he said. Like many test-takers of color, Yemi-Ese, who is Black, has spent the past three semesters using software that reliably struggles to locate his face.
“That’s hard when you’re actively trying not to look away, which could make it look like you’re cheating.” When we first spoke, last November, he told me that, in seven exams he’d taken using Proctorio, he had never once been let into a test on his first attempt. Adding sources of light seems to help, but it comes with consequences. Now, whenever he sits down to take an exam using Proctorio, he turns on every light in his bedroom, and positions a ring light behind his computer so that it shines directly into his eyes.
“I have a light beaming into my eyes for the entire exam,” he said. It compares your rate of activity to a class average that the software calculates as the exam unfolds, flagging you if you deviate too much from the norm. At the end of the exam, the professor receives a report on each student’s over-all “suspicion score,” along with a list of moments, marked for an instructor to review, when the software judged that cheating might have occurred.
Proctorio, which operates as a browser plug-in, can detect whether your gaze is pointed at the camera; it tracks how often you look away from the screen, how much you type, and how often you move the mouse. Meanwhile, Proctorio is also monitoring the room around you for unauthorized faces or forbidden materials. (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.
“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.