December 9, 2020
From the Office of the Provost
During the past nine months, the University has invested in many state-of-the-art technologies to provide the best learning experience it can to the students during this unprecedented time. These technologies improve many aspects of a student’s learning experiences: from course delivery, to securely access course materials, to the assessment of learning outcomes. As virtual learning continues, the University is committed to further explore and exploit the latest technologies available with a goal to further improve the educational quality it delivers to the students in this environment. This includes the alternatives to in-classroom proctored testing.
Federal regulations (Department of Education) and accreditors (Higher Learning Commission) have required colleges and universities to meaningfully assess student performance, and in online and distance education, online proctoring has been used as one of the standard tools to meet these regulatory and accreditation requirements. At Kettering University, Kettering University Online (KUO) has deployed online proctoring services for the past five years and has accumulated valuable experiences of how to effectively use these services to meet the assessment requirements without compromising student privacy. In today’s virtual learning environment where in-classroom proctored testing is not always possible, we are required to provide this type of alternative proctoring method to our faculty to maintain compliance with federal regulations and accreditation requirements.
After several months of careful evaluation and comparison of available online proctoring services, I, in consultation with Academic Affairs, IT and KUO leadership, chose Honorlock, an online proctoring service, as an alternative to in-classroom proctored testing. This tool will be made available as an optional proctoring means to all instructors, effective Winter term, 2021. Its use is optional and at the discretion of the individual faculty member.
We fully understand some students may have concerns about the use of Honorlock at Kettering. However, many of the concerns raised do not accurately reflect the true operation of this service as it will be implemented at our University. Students should be aware of the following:
- Kettering has a long-standing Acceptable Use Policy (https://my.kettering.edu/page/acceptable-use-policy) that is aimed at protecting all Kettering employees and students. This policy prohibits unauthorized use of any Kettering constituent data and supersedes any 3rd party vendor agreement, including Honorlock’s general terms of service. Our implementation of this service is bound by our Acceptable Use Policy.
- The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) binds Honorlock to only collect, process, and store student information for their services and prohibits Honorlock to sell or transfer the collected information for any other purposes. Furthermore, Honorlock only collects data that verifies a student’s identity and complies with FERPA requirements.
- Honorlock is only active when proctoring a University exam, and only when the exam session is active. To add additional protection for students, Kettering will provision this service through Blackboard only, our secure LMS (Learning Management Systems). This means that the Honorlock extension is only active when you are in the exam on Blackboard.
- Honorlock acts through an extension within the Chrome browser, it only has access to the limited operations provided by the browser and does not have access to any other information on your computer. The Honorlock extension may be deleted after the exam is complete.
- Honorlock does not otherwise access or control the host computer, mobile device, or any devices connected to the same network as the host computer, nor does it scan the network.
- Honorlock does not gather person-specific information such as facial recognition. It only detects unusual activities in an exam environment. For example, multiple people in a room, voices from multiple persons, etc. All data collected by Honorlock are encrypted and stored securely.
- Honorlock does not decide whether or not an academic misconduct occurred. When it detects unusual activities in an exam setting, it generates a flag to alert the instructor, who will review the situation to make a final determination.
Attached is an FAQ that addresses many other questions regarding Honorlock’s privacy and security. Any questions may be submitted to my office at email@example.com.
Dr. James Z. Zhang
Frequently Asked Questions
Why and when is online proctoring necessary?
Federal regulations require colleges offering online and distance education to verify student identity. To comply with federal regulations, proctored testing are used to ensure the academic integrity of assessments.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, many courses are delivered virtually to ensure the safety of our students and employees. Even though instructors may use a variety of alternate assessment strategies, they may also rely on online proctoring to ensure the security of tests offered to in virtual environment. Online proctoring helps prevent academic honor violations such as:
- Use of a false identity,
- Unauthorized collaboration,
- Use of unauthorized materials, and
- Copying or distributing test items to others.
Are instructors required to use Honorlock?
No. Instructors may choose to use a variety of assessment methods that do not include online proctoring. However, when the nature of the course or instruction makes online proctoring a necessity, your instructor may choose Honorlock as an option to ensure the academic integrity of your test.
Does Honorlock sell my data or monetize my data to third parties outside of my school or university?
No. Honorlock will never sell or monetize your data. Honolock only shares your data with your educational institution.
What data does Honorlock collect from students using the service?
- Student information (i.e. student name, course number, exam name.) This information is synced with the information in Kettering University’s LMS, Blackboard to verify the student’s identity.
- During the exam, Honorlock collects a webcam video recording that includes desktop activity and audio recording.
- Exam and web pages visited by a student during an examination.
How long does Honorlock keep my data?
Honorlock retains data for a period of 12 months. Student data is deleted after the 12-month retention period. Only a request by Kettering University will extend the retention period if the University is investigating a case of academic integrity.
Does Honorlock have control of my computer or my mobile phone?
- No. Honorlock uses a Chrome browser extension that uses AI to detect the presence of faces in your camera and different voices. Honorlock does not have the ability to control your computer, read your passwords or download any files at any point in time.
- Honorlock does not have access or the ability to control secondary devices such as mobile phones.
Is Honorlock tracking my online activities and watching me when I am not taking an exam?
No. Honorlock is only proctoring the University’s examinations via the Chrome browser extension. You are free to delete the Chrome browser extension immediately following an exam. However, the extension will not track any activity or record any data unless you are taking an exam and logged into Kettering University’s Blackboard.
Where is my data stored and how well is my data protected?
All data in transit and data at rest is encrypted and stored within Honorlock’s private cloud in an Amazon (AWS) data center in the US. Amazon’s data centers are SOC 2 Type 1, U.S. Privacy Shield and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant.
Does Honorlock use facial recognition to verify my identity?
No. Honorlock uses facial detection, which only detects that there is a clear human face in the webcam. Honorlock does not identify the face, store any of the facial elements, or match the face to a database. If no face is detected, or if multiple faces are detected, AI will flag the incident and a human proctor may intervene.
Is it true that Honorlock scans home networks and monitors data from any device connected to that network?
No. Honorlock does not scan home networks or monitor data from any device on the network other than the one used for testing.
Who monitors the test, Artificial Intelligence (AI) or live proctors? Who reviews the flags?
The AI automatically generates a flag if unusual activity is detected, such more than one person’s voice is detected. There is no live person watching the student during the entirety of the exam. For some courses, a live "pop-in" proctor may join the proctoring session if any suspected academic integrity issues arise. Once addressed, the proctor will leave the session. Once an exam session is completed, instructors are able to review flagged recordings to determine if a cheating incident may have occurred.
Webcam and audio analysis has certain AI capabilities built in, such as detecting the presence of zero, one, or more faces in the camera, one or more voices, etc. This AI will generate a “flag,” prompting the instructor to review the exam session to determine if additional action is necessary to remediate any academic integrity issues.
Does Honorlock have the capability to monitor the use of my smartphone during an examination session?
Students using their smartphones to search online resources for test questions should note Honorlock utilizes a manual technology to detect academic integrity issues. Specifically, Honorlock hosts websites with seeded test questions that, when accessed during an examination session, sets off an action on the phone. This action is picked up during the student’s session and alerts instructors to review for academic integrity issues. Honorlock does not initiate any technologies to eavesdrop on the student’s smartphone activity either during or after an examination session.
It is important for students to understand they are not authorized to use their phones during an Honorlock proctored examination.