Remote proctoring: a failed experiment in control

由Ben Blum-Smith,贡献编辑

由于全球卫生危机,一年前在人类发生的大量指示现在正在在线上进行。这种变化突出的一个主题是控制问题。当学生和我们一起建造时,我们[1]有高度的控制环境吗in which instruction takes place and the materials the students have access to. We even have a significant level of power over students’ movements and choices, at least while they’re in front of us. This is most obvious in primary and secondary school, where there is usually a whole “disciplinary” administrative apparatus designed to support instructors’ ability to dictate the movements and choices of students. But even at college and university, where for example there is often no explicit rule against a student getting up and leaving the classroom or building at any time, physical and social aspects of the classroom setting serve as a mechanism of influence. Continuing the example, to leave a classroom in the middle of class you have to physically stand up and collect your stuff, which means everybody knows you’re not coming back, and then face everyone as you walk past them on the way out. The instructor will certainly notice, will probably be hurt, and won’t necessarily respond kindly. It’s very rare for students to do this—in fairness, this is probably (hopefully) mostly because they don’t want to—but it’s very rare even when they do.

A fundamental aspect of the switch to distance learning is its disruption of all the usual structures and processes by which this control is exercised. In our running example, you can leave a Zoom class just by clicking “Leave”, with no need to awkwardly face anyone and a reasonable likelihood, depending on the size of the class, that the instructor won’t even notice. To cover your bases, you can instead leave without leaving—just mute yourself, turn off video, and go about your business while remaining formally in the meeting.

For a different and much-discussed example, while we are used to being able to design students’ environments rather meticulously during exam proctoring to head off both distraction and temptation, there is no analogous form of control over the exam environment built into distance learning.

How are we collectively responding to the challenges this change presents?

Remote proctoring: an experiment in control

One major approach has been to use surveillance technology to try to claw back the lost control. For example, “remote proctoring” of examshas exploded那with colleges and universities spending millions of dollars on software that monitors students via webcam. When colleges first moved to distance learning last spring, 54% of institutionssurveyed经过这higher education IT association Educause said they were using remote proctoring software, while another 23% said they were planning on or considering it.

This is not going over especially smoothly. Objections have been raised to the disturbing privacy implications of video-monitoring students in their homes—

—the inevitable glitchiness of the technology—

-它的inequitable故障 -

—the stress and anxiety of having involuntary body movements scrutinized—

- 需要在考试的已经高压状况中跳过额外的篮球

—and the list goes on.This articlein theWashington Post(上面也相关)进行了一些更全面的报告,包括透露坐在10月份纽约的第一个在线酒吧考试的法律学生在其席位中排尿,以避免违反在线的招聘规则。

推送超出了Twitter上的个人。有有组织的抵抗力from学生们andparents。The press has加入磨损Nonprofitorganizationshave too。在某些情况下,执行远程踏板的决定是blockedor逆转由教师。Lawmakershavegotten involved

Nonetheless, usage of online proctoring serviceshas continued to grow



从一个角度,这个问题完全是言辞al. In preparing this blog post, I read a large number of tweets from students about their experiences with remote proctoring software. The main thought/feeling I was left with was horror that academia has embraced this Faustian deal. Surveilling students in their homes and subjecting them to suspicion based on automated interpretation of their involuntary body movements is transparently creepy, unfair, unreliable, and harmful to students. They arestressedout,它是制作它们do worse。Concerns about cheating are real, but they look petty and tiny in the face of these harms.

鉴于此,我认为学生(以及他们在教授,新闻等)的盟友正在反击,因为远程距离是一个艰难的。他们会把这个躺着吗?他们shouldbe fighting back! It’snaturalthat they’re fighting back. I hope their fight grows. I’ve decided to join it by writing this. I hope you will too.

That said, I would like to proffer an additional explanation that I believe illuminates the situation from an angle that is useful to educators. Remote proctoring is meeting resistance because it isgoing against the grain of the situation

The global health crisis has forced us online. The online format presents the institution of education with a new challenge—the disruption of its usual mechanisms of control. The wide-scale adoption of remote proctoring software during the pandemic is, in my view, an attempt to wish that challenge away rather than confronting it. Online proctoring companies are selling educational institutions the fantasy that it is possible to recreate the important elements of in-person testing online. It’s a transparent falsehood, but we want to believe, because the alternative—a deep and serious reconsideration of testing in view of everything that has happened—feels like too much. The changes in our own and our students’ lives already forced by the pandemic are hard enough to wrap our minds around! And we have to rethink testing too?

From this point of view, the pushback was to be expected because institutions implementing remote proctoring are straining against reality. Reality always strains back.

Surrendering to reality and asking good questions

The reason why I think this angle might be useful to educators is that it seems—well, to me anyway—to point in a freeing, and expansive, direction. There’s somerelief可供我们录取我们承认远程教学无法重新创建合理的内部考试环境。当我们承认这一点时,我们可以开始想象什么?我们怎样才能工作with这situation, rather than against it?

More broadly, I think that surrendering to the reality that we don’t have as much control over our students when they’re far away encourages us to ask productive questions about the functions our control was serving in the first place, and how else these functions might be served.

In Spring 2020, when we first went online, circumstances conspired to compel me to relinquish some forms of control I didn’t even fully realize I was holding onto, leading to an experiment in letting go whose results surprised me. I hope to describe this experiment in a future blog post. In the meantime, here are some other folks, from both math and other disciplines, investigating the sorts of questions I have in mind:

  • 詹姆斯塔顿,在移动到远程学习的开始,提供了新的约束是重新设想我们要求学生的数学工作的邀请。
  • 弗朗西斯苏,去年4月,从根本上重新考虑了他期末考试的目标。
  • 梅斯imad.,6月,在大流行的背景下创伤知情教学的基础知识。
  • Jeff Suzuki,8月在这篇博客上,有一些关于“互联网抗拒”问题设计的思考。




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