Update to the community on remote proctoring software, including Proctorio

January 22, 2021

We are writing to provide an update to the UBC Vancouver community regarding the use of remote proctoring software at UBC, including Proctorio. We have heard numerous student, faculty and staff concerns about using such tools for online assessments, including privacy, ethical, and equity and inclusion concerns, many of which have been clearly and frequently expressed by student leaders. We have also heard from students, faculty and staff that supporting academic integrity in the exam environment is crucial for retaining the integrity and value of UBC degrees, and also for ensuring that no students gain unfair advantages over others.

It is challenging to address all aspects of this issue in a relatively short time period, since doing so involves broader efforts across many parts of the institution to better support and sustain academic integrity through multiple approaches, including awareness and education, as well as supporting significant changes in teaching and assessment practices. We are actively working on those broader efforts and will be able to share more about them later this term.

We wanted to share with you an update on several other steps we have taken and are taking regarding remote proctoring software at UBC Vancouver.

During the summer of 2020, a group of students, faculty and staff developed a set of Principles for the Appropriate Use of Remote Invigilation Tools, posted on the front page of the Keep Teaching website and also shared widely within faculties, departments and programs near the beginning of September. Among other things, these principles point to important student concerns with online invigilation tools, and emphasize that such concerns should be weighed heavily in the decision whether to use such tools. The principles also stress that alternative means of assessment should be considered first, and remote proctoring software should only be used if no other assessment design can adequately achieve the pedagogical goals of the course. We recognize that publishing and promoting these principles, however, has not fully addressed concerns with this kind of software, and they alone are not enough to promote significant change in online assessment practices.

Currently, the UBC Vancouver Senate Teaching and Learning Committee is undertaking a consultation on the possibility of limiting the use of remote proctoring software that involves automated, algorithmic analysis of data captured during recording of an exam session, to only certain kinds of courses or programs. This consultation is underway and the committee will consider whether a motion can be brought to the full Vancouver Senate during this term. In parallel, we are reviewing and strengthening the guidance provided to faculty members regarding the use of such tools, as posted on the Keep Teaching and Learning Technology Hub web sites – with a focus on the information for settings in Proctorio, to help reduce the use of particularly invasive settings.

In addition, we are undertaking a procurement process to consider multiple options for online proctoring software. Decisions will take into account concerns expressed, along with institutional requirements that must be met before licensing any such tool. This procurement process, which is guided by provincial legislation, can take several months. As this process takes place, we are extending the current UBC license with Proctorio, for a limited time, in order to provide faculty with continuity in using such tools during the current academic term. After the procurement and Senate processes complete, we will be in a better position to make further decisions beyond this current academic term.

Thank you to everyone who has expressed their views on this topic, in multiple fora and across a wide spectrum of positions on the issue of online proctoring software. We remain committed to continuing the conversation as the ongoing processes discussed above move ahead.

Simon Bates
Associate Provost, Teaching and Learning

Christina Hendricks
Academic Director, Centre for Teaching, Learning & Technology

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