THE NETHERLANDS. Having your webcam on while you take an exam? Preferably not, say young politicians and students. They have serious objections against ‘online proctoring’ and demand an alternative.
Eleven organisations have expressed their concerns about digital proctoring when students take their exams online. They have called upon intermediate vocational education and higher education to stop online proctoring, as much as possible.
Online proctoring means that students are filmed with a webcam in their rooms, making it possible to follow their typing and other behaviour. Students must provide the educational institute with access to their software and hardware.
The eleven organisations appreciate that a “tremendous amount” of work is being done to provide online education and prevent study delays, despite the corona crisis, they write. But the transition to online testing must be carried out very carefully.
Students often have to choose between study delays and violation of privacy: if they don’t allow a breach of privacy to accept online proctoring, they cannot take exams for the time being and will incur a study delay.
The youths feel that educational institutes should first consider alternatives, such as open-book exams, substitute assignments and essays. And if there just isn’t any other way, the institutes must consult with the students about online proctoring and explain, for example, what exactly will happen with their data.
The youth organisations state that there must always be an alternative for students who do not want to (or cannot) participate in an exam with online proctoring. For example, a small-scale face-to-face exam while respecting the hygiene measures.
IT education foundation SURF published a new white paper on online proctoring on Tuesday. The privacy impact is indeed “very great”, it states. Institutes must therefore carefully consider whether an exam is more important than privacy.
In addition, institutes must ensure – just like in the case of regular exams – that students don’t cheat. To prevent this, every student must be given a unique exam, with an individual set of questions and cases. Sometimes a second camera may be required, in addition to the webcam on the laptop. Another problem is that, if the lockdown lasts a long time, we may see cheating software being used to mislead proctors carrying out the online proctoring.
The eleven youth organisations have summed up their objections in a letter and submitted them to the educational institutes. The letter was signed by political youth organisations from GroenLinks, D66, VVD, PvdA, Denk, ChristenUnie, Partij voor de Dieren, and SP, as well as by student organisations ISO, LSVb and JOB.
HOP, Hein Cuppen