What is proctoring?
Proctoring means to have an observer monitor the testing environment as the test is being given to the students. The reason behind this is to maintain a neutral testing environment while ensuring that integrity of the test isn't compromised. In other words, it's meant to prevent cheating while also making sure that students can take their tests uninterrupted.
In the case of Respondus and Honorlock, the observer (aka the proctor) is replaced by a mostly-automated digital system. There are two primary aspects to digital proctoring: locking down the test-taking device and recording the student's webcam and/or screen while they take the test. The instructor's chosen settings will determine how thorough these functions are on the per-quiz basis, or if they're even used at all.
The following Knowledgebase page provides some additional information about the differences between Respondus LockDown Browser and Honorlock: Proctoring Tools in Canvas
How does online proctoring work?
1) Students take the quiz – When a student goes to take a proctoring-enabled quiz, it will prevent them from starting until they have the required tool running. This means launching the Respondus LockDown Browser or enabling the Honorlock extension in Google Chrome. Once the required tool is on standby, the student will proceed to open their quiz where it will finish any remaining setup such as asking the student to close their other browser tabs or turn on their webcam. Once this setup is complete, they will take their quiz like normal. The tools will return to standby after the quiz is submitted, at which point the student can close the LockDown browser or disable the Honorlock extension if they so choose.
2) A.I. scans the footage – After a quiz is submitted, the proctoring tool uses a 100% automated system to scan through any recorded footage. This process will flag any timestamps where it believes something suspicious may have occurred, as well as giving the quiz attempt an overall suspicion probability rating (a low-medium-high scale). The overall rating does not guarantee whether or not cheating actually occurred, nor do the individual flagged timestamps. This process is only meant to point out times where cheating may have occurred by watching for things such as the student leaving the room mid-quiz or looking up answers in another browser window.
Honorlock does have an available option to have one of their own proctors skim through the footage afterwards to double-check for questionable behaviors during the quiz, but this is an optional setting that is determined by the instructor ahead of time.
3) Instructor checks & verifies the results – Finally, the instructor opens the list of results and determines whose quiz attempt, if any, received high enough of a rating that they need to check for potential violations. If an instructor checks these flags and verifies that cheating did occur, any changes to grades or further disciplinary actions will be up to their discretion. Regardless of what they found in their analysis, the proctoring tools will not affect any grades or take any actions of their own.
Is every online quiz proctored?
No. If a quiz is proctored, you will know before you begin as you would not be able to open the quiz without having the respective tool running. Additionally, the webcam and screen recording functions are not required on every quiz that uses these proctoring tools. It's up to the instructor to determine which settings are necessary per quiz, and in some cases they may only use one for the browser lockdown aspects. If the student is not running the required tool when they go to open the quiz, the page will provide them with a download link for the relevant tool. Honorlock and Respondus are both free for all students and faculty.
Who sees the footage (if any is being recorded)?
Generally speaking, only the instructor will have access to quiz recordings. Student privacy laws protect student identities and therefore prevent any footage or information from being shared or sold to third parties.
Both Honorlock and Respondus run footage through their respective artificial intelligence programs to flag timestamps in footage where it believes violations may have occurred (such as the student leaving the room mid-exam or using their phone). It's entirely up to instructor discretion on whose footage they view, if any at all. If the student's quiz attempt isn't given a medium or high probability rating for potential cheating, then chances are that no one ever opens that student's footage.
Honorlock does have a manual review option where they will have one of their neutral proctors check footage afterwards to see if they noticed anything that goes against the quiz's guidelines. However, this is an optional setting and is oftentimes disabled. An in-person proctor's job is to monitor the testing environment, so this is simply the online equivalent.
The only reason that additional parties would gain access to recorded footage would be for disputing evidence. Other university staff may be given access to view the footage if a student is disputing a claim of academic misconduct, or footage can be legally subpoenaed if bizarre circumstances led to a crime being recorded in the background of a student's proctored webcam footage.
How long is the proctoring information saved?
All footage and corresponding information is 100% deleted after one year. The only reason it's saved for this long in the first place is just in case there's a dispute between the student and the university on an alleged cheating incident. The services wipe all traces of student information after this period passes.
What actually gets tracked?
We'll use Honorlock as the example here because it gets added to a user's day-today web browser which has much more information tied to it than Respondus' self-contained LockDown browser. The following list shows the information that Honorlock can access, but remember that some of these functions are optional based on your instructor's proctoring settings.
• User and exam information pulled from Canvas (e.g., user name, user email, quiz name, course name so it knows whose footage it is and where it belongs)
• Proctoring reports of any alleged misconduct or violations (This is the cheating probability rating it gives to every quiz attempt)
• Timestamps of answered questions (Canvas already keeps this info it on its own, regardless of Honorlock)
• Actions taken when a student is taking an exam (e.g., copy/cut/right-click actions or leaving the quiz screen)
• Screen and webcam monitoring (these are optional based on the instructor's settings for a particular quiz)
• Authentication Data (Also optional; this is comprised of the picture of the student, their school ID, and/or the room scan taken before a quiz begins)
• Primary Device Information (such as IP address and your operating system. This information is given to every website you visit)
• Secondary Device Information (see below)
Honorlock's Secondary Device "Tracking"
Every website you visit can see your IP address (which also translates to your relative geographic location) and the time at which you accessed their website. When Honorlock is enabled on a quiz, it can read the questions that are being asked in that quiz. Finally, Honorlock collaborates with some of the answer-sharing websites as well as hosting a few of them on their own, aka the "honeypots."
Honorlock simply connects the dots with these bits of information. If Honorlock and one of their affiliated honeypot websites see that they each had a user accessing the same specific set of questions at the same exact time, then they can reasonably conclude that the student was looking up the quiz answers. This becomes especially true if "both" users are from the same location or if the automated webcam/screen capture proctoring notices the student using a second device or browser window as it was happening.
Respondus Lockdown Browser is its own self-contained program. When it's launched, it brings the student directly to our university's login page. Users cannot freely access other websites unless they're linked within one of their Canvas courses. Overall, Respondus is a very controlled, sealed-off environment. It locks down the user's device while it's running, but it doesn't have access to additional information.
On the other hand, Honorlock is a Google Chrome extension. Users have the entirety of their internet capabilities at their fingertips within Chrome: saved passwords, internet history, personalized settings, and other information that a user would find sensitive. Combine that with the fact that Honorlock is partially designed to be a monitoring tool, and it becomes understandable that some users would find that combination to be unsettling.
Remember that Honorlock is not running unless you are within a Canvas, and it's not monitoring anything outside of Honorlock-enabled quizzes. The Honorlock icon will display a red dot if the extension is active. It cannot access your prior browser history, accounts on other websites, or any similar personal information. If a user is still uncomfortable with the extension, they can disable or delete the Honorlock from their browser with just two clicks once they're finished with a quiz. It's a near-instantaneous process to download and activate the extension, so users can add or remove it whenever they'd like to.