There is less than a week left before finals for 1000’s of undergraduates in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and some can’t help but feel invaded
No matter the kind of change there is always resistance and in this case it’s universities trying to adapt to the pandemic by moving exams online.
We, the students, understand the critical times we are in and why it’s safer to have exams online. It’s just that this comes at an expense most of us are not comfortable with, the expense of privacy.
So how does this work?
In UTM, online exams can take place in 2 ways:
- Asynchronous Online Exam – Students download exam question and then upload the answers after a set amount of time (eg. 1.5 hours)
(a) Asynchronous Online Examination— MPM UTM (@mpmutm) June 24, 2020
– Your lecturer will set the time and download exam questions from online platforms.
– The exam questions will be password protected and given once the exam start.
– Internet connection is not required throughout the examination session.
- Synchronous Online Exam – Students will be invigilated/proctored online through video conferencing such as Zoom/Webex/Google Meet throughout the whole online exam session. Lecturers monitor them through video conferencing.
Even Universiti Malaya (UM) have similar policies with regards to online exams.
Now what is the problem?… The Data or Privacy?
Both but it’s only a part of it. To be able to sit for your upcoming finals you most probably have to consent to a few terms you don’t exactly sit (excuse the pun) well with. These terms can be anything from giving webcam access to possibly allowing remote access to your browsers history. Here is an excerpt from the guideline to online finals:
The other part of the problem is whose hands this data falls into. While currently here in Malaysia it is our lecturers, we can’t say the same for the most of the world.
Near the start of April, the Washington Post reported on how most universities in the US use proctoring services such as ProctorU or Proctorio, and the amount of data they collected on the students is immense and sometimes extremely private. Most of the time they request access to some combination of your webcam, microphone or browser but are allowed to use biometrics such as facial recognition and eye-tracking.
Students in Australia were told to use a third-party platform if they want to complete upcoming online exams. A UQ (University of Queensland) spokesperson said ProctorU was being used for some final exams to reduce the health risks to staff and students from COVID-19 as reported in Brisbane Times.
Students at TIllburg University have signed a petition to stop the use of online supervision such as Proctorio and during the time of writing this article, have amassed over 5000 signatures.
What sparked the resistance is when the students were asked to provide ‘a thorough room scan, by uploading a video/webcam recording of their bedroom/studyroom/whatever room they will be taking the exam in’ as reported Dutch News.
Why should I care about ProctorU?
It’s only a matter of time before we face the threat of our privacy being invaded and private data falling into the hands of third parties, such as ProctorU.
This post is to only inform you of the state of our contemporary society.