Western Resuming Use of Proctortrack on Thursday, October 29

Update - October 27, 2020

Western is committed to providing positive remote learning experiences for our students, during the pandemic and beyond. We have introduced remote solutions that help us maintain our high standards of academic integrity while mitigating privacy and data security risks as much as possible.

Western selected Proctortrack for its remote proctoring services, offered by eCampusOntario through a partnership with Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities. Prior to using these services, Proctortrack’s security and privacy practices were reviewed and assessed by Western Technology Services and Western’s privacy officer.

We acknowledge that the Proctortrack remote proctoring service (offered by Verificient Technologies) has created concerns for members of the campus community. We know the pandemic has presented challenges for our students and it is unfortunate that one of the tools we have brought in to help students succeed in a remote academic environment has been the source of additional stress.

Remote proctoring is a service available to faculty at Western to help ensure that the academic integrity of tests, quizzes or examinations is maintained while students take assessments in unsupervised, remote locations. It is an important tool used in some courses where instructors have determined proctored assessments are the most practical way to validate that students have met the learning outcomes of the course.

Many courses at Western do not require proctored online assessments. This year, the number of courses with a December examination has decreased by nearly 20% relative to last year, and only 17% of those with a December exam are using Proctortrack. However, for some courses, alternatives such as term papers and essay-format exams would fundamentally change the skills and learning outcomes being evaluated. It is for those courses that we are providing secure solutions so we can continue to offer courses that meet our academic standards and students can achieve academic success.

We have heard the concerns of students, faculty, and other members of our community with respect to Western’s decision to use Proctortrack. We acknowledge this tool uses invasive technology to operate. It scans students’ faces, scans their Western ONECard, records them while they are completing assessments and uses their name, student number and Western email address to manage students’ accounts. Students are required to download the software on their computers. Once it is installed, the application has access to a number of resources necessary to carry out effective supervision, including: web camera, microphone, screen, network connections, and the local file system.

We have taken steps to mitigate the risks to our students by ensuring there are contractual terms, practices and policies in place to protect their data security and privacy.

Verificient has confirmed the application does not access items that are not required for the proctoring experience. Proctortrack cannot read browser-based authentication data (usernames and passwords or banking information) and it does not collect credit card data. Keystroke data is not collected and stored, however certain keystrokes may be defined, detected locally on a student’s computer, and disallowed within the context of facilitating the test.

Western students’ biometric data and examination data are both stored in Canada. Western minimizes data collection by electing not to use knuckle or voice scans and recommending students use their Western ONECard to verify their identity rather than government-issued identification. Student information is not sold or used for marketing.

Western continues to assess Proctortrack and several other remote proctoring options as a long-term solution, all of which require the use of invasive technology to achieve our standards of academic integrity.

Western will resume the use of Proctortrack on Thursday, October 29th after it was temporarily shut down due to a security incident. Verificient commenced their services again on October 22, following the results of an independent cybersecurity audit. We have carefully considered information available to us about this incident and are satisfied it is safe to resume these services at this time.

We have developed a list of frequently asked questions to respond to inquiries about Proctortrack and will continue to update this as new questions are brought forward.