Rutgers Administration Silent on Future of ProctorTrack Monitoring Software

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers officials have been silent on whether the school will continue to use the student-monitoring, anti-cheating software known as "ProctorTrack" for the summer and fall 2015 semesters. 

Thousands of students paid a $32 fee to download the software during the spring semester despite the university having no contract with the provider, Verificient Technologies.

The Rutgers Online Schedule of Classes, which shows classes availabe for the upcoming, current, and previous semesters, mentions the  possibility that a proctoring software or in-person exam proctoring might be required for student enrolled in online classes.

All the online sections of of Dance Appreciation and Theater Appreciation for example, show that there will be a "proctoring fee… not to exeed $40."

During the Spring 2015 semester, ProctorTrack was limited to classes within the "Mason Gross Arts Online" program.

For the summer 2015 semester, the schedule showed that online sections for classes within the Classics and Labor Studies departments show that there may be an "online proctoring fee."

Rutgers officials have not responded to questions on whether this proctoring fee would be the result of the ProctorTrack software, .

Other listings for online classes within Mason Gross School of the Arts, such as Theater History, do not mention any proctoring fee. 

Inquiries on whether ProctorTrack would be expanded beyond Mason Gross have also not been answered.

Since May 10, New Brunswick Today has been asking Rutgers Media Relations staff about the future of ProctorTrack. But, more than three weeks later, none of our inquiries had been answered.

The only response New Brunswick Today received from Rutgers Media Relations was a statement that the newspaper was be denied press access to the Rutgers 2015 Commencement Ceremony.

ProctorTrack uses remote monitoring technology to records  audio and video of the student as they take their online exam, as well as attempts to prevent them from using other computer programs.

The software also scans each student's identification, knuckles, and face to ensure that the individual registered under the course is the same person currently taking the exam. 

Rutgers senior Betsy Chao, concerned about the potential for invasion of privacy, launched an online petition against the software in February.  Though While her petition received waves of signatures when it was first created, it has so far stalled at just under 900.

During the Spring 2015 semester, students in the Mason Gross Arts Online program who wished to take an exam online were required to purchase and download the software for $32 per class.

According to officials, students were given the option to opt out of downloading the software, and instead take the exam at a computer lab or in person for a similar fee.  

Rutgers President Robert Barchi stressed that the school is required by federal law to maintain a mechanism of academic integrity for its online classes. 

"We have a requirement – a federal requirement – that we can document that the people who are taking the test and getting credit for the course are the ones that we think they are," Barchi told the school newspaper, The Daily Targum.

Tim Dutta, the CEO of Verificient Technologies, the company which designed and owns ProctorTrack, reiterated similar points in an interview with New Brunswick Today. 

Barchi also admitted during the interview with the student newspaper that, during the initial implementation of the software, more could have been done to make students, faculty and staff to be aware of the requirements ahead of time. 

The implementation of ProctorTrack has been so controversial that it had led to coverage in numerous technology blogs, as well as the Florida-based newspaper Fusion, and even the New York Times.

Reporter at New Brunswick Today

Award-winning, multimedia journalist with experience in digital first and print-media. Daniel has covered local, state and regional issues, and utilized photography, social media and has written in-depth articles to produce high-quality work.