What SUU Students Should Know About Proctorio

With exams being taken online rather than in the testing center because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern Utah University students and staff have had to adjust to a new electronic test proctoring service — Proctorio.

Along with this new technology have come urgent and repeatedly asked questions. Is Proctorio an invasion of privacy? Will Proctorio alter my test scores? How do I deal with the stress that Proctorio has added to an already nerve-wracking test-taking situation?

After the Southern Utah University Student Association brought these concerns to SUU administration, according to Matt Mckenzie, the director of Online Teaching and Learning at SUU, a town hall meeting was held via zoom that was open to SUU students and faculty. 

Mike Olsen, the founder and CEO of Proctorio and members of his team, Amy Sloan and Jerusha Abarca, attended the meeting to discuss Proctorio concerns. 

“I worked at Arizona State University for six years and the idea for Proctorio came from the use of other types of proctoring methods at that university,” Olsen said. 

Proctorio is used to proctor exams through automated and live proctoring, according to Olsen, and also verifies identities and detects plagiarism. It also utilizes web sweeping.

“Web sweep finds content that was previously stolen from exams and gets that taken down from sites,” Olsen said. 

Since the company was founded in 2013, the service has proctored over 26 million exams around the world. 

Olsen highlighted the difference between this proctoring service compared to others, which is its browser-based extension.

According to their site, Proctorio claims that their “systems are designed to be less intrusive than hosting human proctors, virtually monitoring you taking your exam in your home. With our learning Integrity Platform, only approved administrators are allowed to access your data.” 

Olsen addressed the question “will Proctorio automatically submit my grade?” saying that Proctorio will not submit the grade through Canvas and that “Canvas is handling the grading as if Proctorio was there.”

Regarding privacy, Olsen told the audience that Proctorio doesn’t have access to the device when it comes to personal files and cannot go through browser history. 

“It doesn’t have access to any previously downloaded programs or files, or anything historical. The only time Proctorio is collecting information is during the exam, and what it collects varies depending on what the institution, or your specific instructor, is requesting,” said Olsen. 

Proctorio determines a suspicion score at the end of the exam, picking up sounds, head movements and other voices in the room depending on what settings the instructor has selected (such as requiring video recording or not). The score suggests whether or not the test-taker was exhibiting suspicious behavior and possibly cheating on the exam. 

“Don’t look at yourself in the webcam, just take it as you normally would,” Olsen said regarding minimizing the suspicion score. 

Olsen also addressed a common misconception about the suspicion score, which is that eye twitching will result in a higher score. 

“The software can’t analyze your eyes and set off the cheating alarms. It is tracking head movements and can tell if you’re looking down or to the right,” said Olsen. 

Jill Malleck, the learning management system administrator at SUU, encourages students to first ask their instructors questions concerning Proctorio. 

Students can email canvas@suu.edu or visit the Proctorio help center with further questions concerning the proctoring service.


Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photo courtesy Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash