NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers University officials confirmed they are expanding the use of a controversial anti-cheating software program, ProctorTrack, to two more of its schools.
Since February, the academic departments in the Mason Gross School of the Arts have been using the software for its online learning programs in Art, Music, Dance, Visual Arts and Theater Arts.
This semester, students in the School of Social Work and the School of Management and Labor Relations, which includes the Human Resources Management and Labor Studies departments, will also be subjected to the software.
The confirmation came from Rutgers Media Relations, after months of silence about the future of the program.
As we reported, ProctorTrack uses remote monitoring technology to collect audio, video and document the web activity of students as they take an exam. It also scans the students' ID, face, and knuckles to verify they are the person they claim to be.
It's unclear how many different courses will be affected by the expansion, though only a few listings in the course catalog make any mention of a proctoring fee, webcam requirement, or proctoring software.
The summer 2015 online schedule of classes showed a myriad of courses with requirements that suggested some kind of online proctoring mechanism might be in use.
For example, many of the courses in the Labor Studies department contained notes reading, "Personal webcam needed for taking proctored exams online."
In the Classics department, which only offered online classes during the summer session, each course's listing contained a note that said, "may require exam proctoring fee not to exceed $40."
New Brunswick Today repeatedly asked about whether this fee was because of the usage of ProctorTrack software, but Rutgers officials did not respond until August 26, one day after the school finally signed a contract with the company that created the software.
For the first seven months that the software was being used at Rutgers, the university did not actually have a written contract with Verificient Technologies, the company that created ProctorTrack.
Instead, university officials maintain the software was implemented under a "verbal agreement," and as a result of that agreement, thousands of students paid the company $32 to download the software, though many were unaware that it would be necessary.
Though the one-year contract was not signed until August 25, it says it took effect on January 13. Verificient had only just secured a patent for the ProctorTrack software days earlier.
During the seven months under the verbal agreement, confusion and miscommunications arose over the price of the software and its slipshod introduction to students, as well as how long the private company would retain student's personal data, and whether students had to use it or if they could use alternative proctoring methods.
The software took many students by surprise after it was introduced to the students in the Mason Gross Arts Online program, where it made headines in local papers and the New York Times after a student named Betsy Chao launched an online petition against the software.
Hundreds of other students signed the petition and voiced their dissatisfaction over a myriad factors regarding the software and it's roll-out on campus.
The newly-signed contract, released to New Brunswick Today on August 25, revealed that Rutgers and Verificient agreed that an unspecified "pilot program" to roll-out the ProctorTrack software had been "successful."