Every other week, two types of articles about online exams seem to come out: either students are being caught cheating remotely, or students (and some teachers) fear that the online vigilance of remote exams has the potential to be taken too far.
What these two sides of the same debate both have in common is that, clearly, online monitoring of student exams has struck a nerve. While some may see it as society taking a step too far into wide-scale surveillance, others view the inclusion of more sophisticated technology in the higher education sector as a necessary step in helping students – many of whom are forced to stay home due to ad-hoc, global lockdowns – complete their studies in time.
Both arguments are valid, and there is no easy answer. Privacy in an increasingly technological world is constantly debated, and COVID’s spread and disruption has turned its focus onto the education sector.
As with all complex debates, there are various approaches to look at online exam monitoring. As Phillip Dawson, the author of Defending Assessment Security in a Digital World, writes, “we tend to trust certain forms of assessment over others, often for reasons of tradition. Examinations are still seen as the default mode of assessment in some contexts, and to suggest any alternative is seen to pose a significant assessment security risk”.