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Virtual Proctor System Directives

Classification number ACD 1506.4
Parent policy Examination and Grading Policy
Framework category Academic
Approving authority Academic Council
Policy owner Vice-President, Academic and Provost
Approval date November 24, 2020
Review date May 2021

Purpose

The purpose of these Directives is to establish a process for oversight of online Examinations including Final Examinations where the course instructor requires the use of a Virtual Proctor System by students. Oversight is intended to ensure that academic integrity in Examinations is maintained, and that Examinations are conducted in a manner that mitigates privacy risks inherent in the use of Virtual Proctor Systems.

Definitions

For the purposes of these Directives the following definitions apply:

“Biometric Data” means data regarding measurable physiological or behavioural characteristics that are used to identify an individual. Examples of biometric identifiers include fingerprints, iris patterns, facial features, DNA, and voice signatures. Biometric identifiers are directly and intimately associated with the human body and cannot be easily hidden or changed.

"Examination" means a form of testing intended to assess the level of students’ knowledge, ability, skills, comprehension, application, analysis, and/or synthesis of the subject matter in a course of study. This includes, but is not limited to in-person, online, take-home, practical, and laboratory Examinations.

"Final Examination" means an Examination scheduled during the Final Examination Period.

“Online Proctor” means a designated individual assigned by the Faculty to oversee the supervision of online Final Examinations. Normally, this is the course instructor and TA(s) assigned to the course. The Faculty may assign multiple individuals if necessary.

“Security Settings” means configurable settings relating to identity verification, such as the requirement for use of a webcam, a face scan, room scan or photo ID. These settings will be applied consistently across the University.

“Optional Settings” means configurable settings relating to test parameters, such as but not limited to whether physical books, digital resources, scratchpad tools, or handwritten notes are allowed. These settings will be determined by course instructors according to their assessment needs.

“Virtual Proctor System” means an automated system that monitors examinations using student webcams, and records and analyzes exam sessions.

Scope and authority

These Directives apply to online Examinations including Final Examinations where the course instructor requires the use of a Virtual Proctor System by students.

The Provost, or successor thereof, is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration and interpretation of these Directives.

Directives

Virtual Proctor System

  1. A course instructor may choose to require the use of a Virtual Proctor System including video and audio monitoring to oversee online Examinations. Monitoring by the Virtual Proctor System does not occur in real-time.
  2. Where a course instructor chooses to require the use of a Virtual Proctor System, this will be disclosed in the course outline in accordance with Ontario privacy law.
  3. Where a Virtual Proctor System is required by the course instructor, students will be expected to comply with the requirements of the system, including, as applicable, installing and running required software, turning on a webcam and remaining connected to the internet, for the duration of the Examination. Students will be expected to present photo ID, consistent with the Examination and Grading Policy and related procedures.
  4. The Chief Privacy Officer, or delegate will conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment on any proposed Virtual Proctor System before it is used for Examinations. This will include developing a recommended process for the use of the software.
  5. The Privacy Office will maintain and publish a list of authorized Virtual Proctor Systems.
  6. The configuration of Security Settings of the virtual proctor system will be consistent across all courses offered by the University.
  7. Optional Settings may be configured at the discretion of an individual course instructor, based on course requirements.
  8. Some Virtual Proctor Systems have the capability to collect and use Biometric Data for authentication purposes. Biometric Data are worthy of the highest standard of privacy protection. In accordance with the principle of data minimization, the system will be configured to prevent the collection and use of Biometric Data for authentication purposes, with the exception of facial images.
  9. The system will conduct analysis of a student’s exam session to identify any suspicious events that may indicate exam violations have occurred. The University will maintain a list of those events deemed suspicious in a particular system, and make it available on the University’s website.
  10. The identification of suspicious events alone is not determinative of academic misconduct. A review by an Online Proctor is required to determine whether those suspicious events amount to a suspicion of academic misconduct.
  11. Exam sessions will be reviewed by an Online Proctor where suspicious events have occurred.

Review by Online Proctor

  1. Online Proctor(s) will be assigned by the responsible Faculty on a course-by-course basis. Online Proctors may be course instructors for a particular course, or assigned separately by the Faculty, and will need access to the course in the University’s Learning Management System.
  2. Online Proctors will use the system to make a note evaluating the suspicious events reviewed. Suspicious events may be deemed false positives. A false positive occurs when, after review, there is no indication that an exam violation occurred.
  3. If an event is not deemed a false positive, the Online Proctor will, consistent with the Final Examination Administration Procedures determine whether to initiate an incident report by submitting an Incident Report – Violation of Examination Protocol Form to the Course Instructor or to the Faculty’s Academic Advising Office where the Course Instructor is the Proctor.

Academic Misconduct Investigation

  1. Online examination incident reports will be reviewed, investigated and addressed in accordance with the processes set out in the applicable Academic Integrity Policy and associated procedures.
  2. Where an investigation of academic misconduct is initiated, the Dean or delegate will direct the Learning Management System administrator to retrieve all relevant data regarding the incident. The evidence will only be shared and used in accordance with the process set out in the applicable Academic Integrity Policy and associated procedures.

Leaving the Examination Location during a Final Examination

  1. Students are not permitted to leave the examination room during the exam, even briefly. This behavior would be flagged as a suspicious event by the system. When setting up the exam, course instructors are encouraged to allow for scheduled breaks to attend to any personal needs.

Retention and disposal of Virtual proctor system data

  1. Session data collected by the Virtual Proctor System will be retained and stored only in the Virtual Proctor System. Except in accordance with section 7.2, additional copies of session data outside of the Virtual Proctor System are not permitted.
  2. Session data will be retained in accordance with a defined retention period that considers obligations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the minimum operational requirements related to academic misconduct and academic appeals, with a focus on data minimization.

Monitoring and review

This Directive will be subject to an initial review period of six months. Following the initial review, this Directive will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years. The Provost and Vice-President Academic, or successor thereof, is responsible to monitor and review these Procedures.

Relevant legislation

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter F.31

Related policies, procedures & documents

Examination and Grading Policy
Academic Conduct and Professional Suitability Policy
Academic Misconduct and Professional Unsuitability Procedures Incident Report – Violation of Examination Protocol
Records Classification and Retention Schedule