ProctorU scraps fully automated remote proctoring

by Joseph K. Clark

Dive Brief:

  • ProctorU, a company that offers remote test proctoring services, will no longer offer exam monitoring that only uses artificial intelligence to flag potential rules violations and send them to instructors for review, it announced Monday.
  • The company will now only offer proctoring services in which a trained proctor monitors students remotely while they take their exams or reviews the recordings after their tests.
  • ProctorU says it is making the change because faculty members reviewed a few of the software flagged a few of the exams, and AI cannot assess human intent. Remote proctoring companies have also been accused of offering services with racially-biased AI and invasive software.

Dive Insight:


Online proctoring companies have been scrutinized for using AI that flags possible cheating too frequently. Their software often has access to students’ computer video cameras, microphones, and web browsers and looks for suspicious behavior, such as looking away from the monitor too often.

But those opposed to remote proctoring say it increases students’ anxiety during tests and penalizes them for innocent behaviors, such as reading questions aloud. Some reports also criticize online proctoring companies for using facial recognition systems, which have less accuracy in identifying women and dark-skinned people compared to other groups.

ProctorU said it is moving away from AI-monitored exams for three reasons: test providers weren’t consistently reviewing the sessions the software flagged, the technology created more opportunities to implicate students in misconduct unfairly, and increased the workload for instructors.

Schools and testing authorities were only reviewing about 11% of test sessions that ProctorU’s AI flagged for suspicious activity, the company said in its announcement. Moreover, it frequently tagged innocuous behavior, such as a student rubbing their eyes.


Now, the company will have remote proctors monitor live exams or review the tests after they have already occurred. In those instances, AI will still flag potential issues. Still, one of the company’s trained proctors plus one other person will need to verify suspicious behavior before passing on a report to the college instructor to make a final decision.

“A human can discern the difference between you turning around and asking someone a question about an exam or you turning around and talking to your four-year-old who’s asking for a drink of water,” said ProctorU founder and chief strategy officer Jarrod Morgan. The company is working with colleges that use its AI-only services to transition them to those that use its human proctors.

However, some privacy advocates believe remote proctoring harms students, even if it relies less heavily on AI. Albert Cahn, founder, and executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said remote proctoring could cause undue student stress.

“I’m glad to see the company pulling back one of its most disruptive product offerings,” Cahn said. “It’s still unclear to me how they can defend this model.” Project-based learning and other types of assessments are an alternative to such “high-stakes tests,” he added.

Some colleges have been embracing that approach. In October, Contra Costa College in California issued guidance encouraging instructors to use alternative assessments — such as projects, presentations, and essays — instead of remotely proctored exams.

San Francisco State University took a more assertive stance last year when the faculty senate passed a resolution restricting or banning third-party remote proctoring. The college created the guidance after students told officials that online proctoring was “anxiety-provoking,” said Martinez Amigo, distance education coordinator and an English professor. “They’re saying, you know, they’re not able to concentrate on what they’re being tested on because they’re just so worried about looking like they’re cheating, even if they’re not trying to cheat,” Amigo said.

Related Posts