Robocops Monitoring Children’s Online Exams with Room Scans and Eye Detectors

By Mark Keierleber
April 18, 2024

The utilization of remote proctoring tools like Proctorio has sparked controversy within higher education circles, yet their implementation in K-12 educational settings remains relatively unexamined.

Students at Utah’s Kings Peak High School are engaging in exam sessions during the nocturnal hours, showcasing a unique approach to online assessment.

Operating as a purely virtual institute that gained momentum during the pandemic and has continued to experience growth in enrollment since, Kings Peak High School allows students to conveniently take exams from their residences at times that align with their personal schedules. Principal Ammon Wiemers highlights the school’s appeal to students statewide, including athletes and part-time working teens, who are drawn to the flexibility it offers.

Principal Wiemers humorously shared, “Students have 24/7 access, but that doesn’t mean the teachers are on call 24/7.” He emphasized the traditional working hours of the teaching staff, underscoring the balance between accessibility and teacher availability.

Despite the convenience of accessibility, students undertaking exams remotely forfeit their privacy while being monitored through their device’s webcam by Proctorio, a surveillance entity leveraging artificial intelligence. Proctorio employs various tactics such as “desk scans,” “face detection,” and “gaze detection” to ensure exam integrity and deter cheating behavior.

Proctorio submits visual and audio records to Kings Peak educators, flagging students whose actions during the test prompt further scrutiny for potential academic misconduct.

The surge in remote proctoring tool adoption, particularly during the pandemic, triggered upheaval at U.S. tertiary institutions, with numerous challenges posed by students, lawsuits, and allegations of privacy violations and biased algorithms.

Platforms like TikTok became inundated with content exposing vulnerabilities in such systems and teaching ways to circumvent surveillance measures.

Contrastingly, the landscape of K-12 education has largely overlooked the implications of remote proctoring tools. An investigation conducted by The 74 indicates that such tools, including those catering to elementary students, are prevalent in online and traditional school setups.

Civil rights advocates raise concerns about the accuracy and equity of AI proctoring tools in K-12 settings, emphasizing the potential risks and implications for unaware students.

A TikTok tutorial demonstrating exam cheating methods under surveillance by Proctorio. (Screenshot)

Despite the concerns raised, the use of such surveillance tools in K-12 environments persists, warranting a deeper examination of their impact and effectiveness.

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