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Stop Use of Proctortrack in Online Courses

This petition had 918 supporters


Hi, I'm a second semester senior at Rutgers University. I'm currently enrolled in two online classes. Personally, I find online courses quite enjoyable. The steady pacing of the curriculum and the virtual interactivity with students is a manageable and refreshing break from the traditional classroom experience.

However, I recently received emails from both online courses, notifying me of a required "Proctortrack Onboarding" assessment to set up Proctortrack software. Upon reading the instructions, I was bewildered to discover that you had to pay an additional $32 for the software on top of the $100 convenience fee already required of online courses. And I'm told it's $32 per online class. $32 isn't exactly a large sum, but it's certainly not pocket change to me. Especially if I'm taking more than one online class. I'm sure there are many other college students who echo this sentiment. Not only that, but nowhere in either of the syllabi was there any inkling of the use of Proctortrack or the $32 charge. 

Now, there's more. Up to this point, I still didn't know exactly what Proctortrack was. My eCollege course tab, labeled "Proctortrack Notice", defines the software as "a remote proctoring service". What you do is you download the application and you launch it. Upon setup, it ACCESSES your personal webcam, requiring you to take face scans and knuckle scans. After these shots establish your identity, Proctortrack then uses uses algorithims and facial recognition technology to monitor your face and body as you take online exams in order to prevent cheating.

So basically, you're literally PAYING to be watched as you take a test. 

I have many objections to this whole procedure.

1. Additional fees for online courses should be plainly stated before add/drop period. If I had known I would be PAYING to use Proctortrack, I would have been more hesitant in registering for any online class. Emails about officially mandating the use of Proctortrack were sent out during the THIRD WEEK of classes. It was already too late to drop classes and so, students essentially have NO choice but to pay the fee. Like I said before, $32 isn't that much. But at this point, it's not about the money, it's about the principle. Countless students have been deceived simply because there was no public announcement about the implementation of Proctortrack.

2. If past students didn't have to compromise their privacy for a quiz/test grade, then why is it exceptionally relevant now?

3. Making Proctortrack MANDATORY software for all online course students is infuriating. It's unnatural that students are faced with the prospect of compromising their privacy in order to earn a grade. If the course instructors offered an in-person, traditional, proctored exam, I would gladly take that instead, even though it's not what I signed up for when I registered for an online course. There is currently no alternative to not downloading Proctortrack. Not only that, but on an even more serious note, I certainly thought that the delicate issue of privacy would be more gracefully handled, especially within a school where the use of webcams was directly involved in a student's death. As a result, I thought Rutgers would be highly sensitive to the issue of privacy.

(This point subject to change since Rutgers states that there are alternatives to downloading Proctortrack and it is not mandatory, as said by Rutgers spokesperson E.J. Miranda. However, the alternative options have yet to be publicized on a large scale. Additionally, my attempts to register for in-person proctoring have been fruitless so far.)

4. Students are required to download the Proctortrack software onto their own personal computers; The school Mac desktops, which students pay for in tuition, are unable to download the software due to certain restrictions. In addition to being forced to use their own personal computers, students must pay for this "service" that was imposed on them. 

5. It is not within my nature to deny truth. I honestly doubt that the implementation of such an invasive software will stop students from cheating. I'm not trying to say that everyone cheats, but the mandated use of Proctortrack essentially displaces the emphasis of education (aka what we went to school for) for students. Rather, instead of actually seeking to learn from online classes, some students will undoubtedly turn to looking up ways to defeat the system. There's already x articles about fooling the software. Proctortrack, to put it simply, is indirectly placing emphasis on students undermining an absurd, invasive new technology, rather than actually taking a test and learning. 

If you're a student enrolled in an online course, a student enrolled in a traditional course, just someone who actually cares about their privacy, or better yet, someone that BALKS at the idea of willingly PAYING to have have your privacy compromised, please sign this petition.

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EDITS

2.5.15 - Petition started. Made slight changes in wording to avoid unintentional slurs that author was unaware of. 

2.6.15 - More wording changes to accomodate the fact that students are not actually being watched live. However, it still stands that making students subject themselves to being recorded in order to take an online test is an invasion of privacy.

- Updated with information on how students are required to install program on their own computers as opposed to the school computers, which are included in tuition.

2.7.2015 - The New Brunswick Today published an article titled "New $32 Fee for Tracking Software Surprises Rutgers Students, Raises Privacy Concerns". You can read it here: http://newbrunswicktoday.com/article/new-32-fee-mandatory-tracking-software-surprises-rutgers-students-raises-privacy-concerns

2.9.2015 - The Daily Targum published an article titled "Students Raise Concerns about Exam Web  Tool Proctortrack". You can read it here: http://www.dailytargum.com/article/2015/02/students-raise-concerns-about-exam-web-tool-proctortrack

2.10.2015 - The New Brunswick Today article was updated on February 8th, with a statement from Rutgers spokesperson E.J. Miranda, who says: "The university has put significant effort into protecting the privacy of online students. The 2008 Act requires that verification methods not interfere with student privacy and Rutgers takes this issue very seriously."

- Article states Proctortrack isn't mandatory: "The Rutgers Center for Center for Online and Hybrid Learning and Instructional Technologies (COHLIT) would oversee the implementation and compliance with the usage of ProctorTrack, according to Rutgers spokesperson E.J. Miranda, who insisted it is not mandatory."

- Possible alternatives: "'ProctorTrack is one method, but COHLIT offers other options to students, faculty and departments for compliance with the federal requirements, such as Examity and ExamGuard,' said Miranda. He also said arrangements could be made to take the exams in person."

 



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