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. (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. Yemi-Ese’s grades dropped precipitously early in the pandemic, a problem he attributed in large part to Proctorio. Still, he managed to raise his grades back to pre-pandemic levels, even in classes that required Proctorio.
“After I figured out nothing was going to change, I guess I got numb to it,” he said. More recently, several students in Illinois have sued their institutions for using the software, alleging that it violates their rights under a state law that protects the privacy of residents’ biometric data. senators sent letters to Proctorio, ProctorU, and ExamSoft, requesting information about “the steps that your company has taken to protect the civil rights of students,” and proof that their programs securely guard the data they collect, “such as images of [a student’s] home, photos of their identification, and personal information regarding their disabilities.” (Proctorio wrote a long letter in response, defending its practices.) On December 9th, the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted a complaint to the attorney general of D.C.
against five proctoring companies, arguing that they illegally collect students’ personal data. On December 3rd, six U.S. 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. Meanwhile, Proctorio is also monitoring the room around you for unauthorized faces or forbidden materials. 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. 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. 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.
“That’s hard when you’re actively trying not to look away, which could make it look like you’re cheating.” Adding sources of light seems to help, but it comes with consequences.