a win for online student privacy? (no, not at all)

Last semester, I had my first encounter with Honorlock.

Unlike the test taking systems my professors had used in other classes – such as Lockdown Browser – where a student has to sign in through a specific browser for tests and cannot access any other part of their computer during an exam, Honorlock is more extensive.

The purpose of Honorlock is to virtually proctor online students as they take exams at home – instead of expecting them to go to testing centers or some such as has been done in the past.

In order to begin an exam in Honorlock, you must conduct a “360 room scan” where you literally pick up your computer and show your entire work space and room to whomever is proctoring the test.

It is brief, and, you, as the student, have chosen your test taking space.

For example, with my autoimmune condition, it is uncomfortable for me to have my legs in a dependent position for a long time so I do my school work and writing and testing taking most of the time sitting criss-cross apple sauce on my bed, using a lap board.

When I do the room scan, I scan my area, including my bed and my lap board as well as my scratch paper (these are math tests) – and underneath it all as well – and I verbalize why I’m testing this way for good measure – though I don’t have to. I just prefer to avoid any confusion.

Without Honorlock, online students would have to go to a local testing center to take a proctored test, resulting in extra headache AND extra expense. It creates financial issues, as well as transportation issues for some students. Also there is the problem that testing centers may not be available in the areas where many online students live. Finally, for disabled students, this can create such an unnecessary obstacle.

Well, as the article below states, I learned this morning that some student at Cleveland State University decided the room scan was violating his privacy and took the issue to court. What’s more, a federal judge has ruled that, under the Fourth Amendment, Honorlock cannot require the room scan.

NPR Honorlock Article.

To my mind, this is bizarre. I fail to see how this is a Fourth Amendment issue when an individual CAN choose to go to a testing center – without creating barriers for the rest of us by disrupting Honorlock OR take the test in a library study room instead of their home if they don’t want to room scan their home OR simply accept that this is what is exchanged for the privilege of online schooling. Also, this is not a government entity requiring the room scan – so, again, Fourth Amendment? – and I will be so surprised if this holds up on appeal.

That said, for now, I have no idea what the implications of this will be.

I have a class with Honorlock this semester.

It is my hope that they will simply stop room scans until this is resolved and not that we will all find ourselves in some sort of testing mess because of Mr. Ogletree from Cleveland State who wanted to be all Sheldon Cooper about his room.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to go to school full-time online – at my first choice school from the very beginning of all things ❤ – and I fully expect to have certain requirements like this for exams. It’s not a problem.

hail state. ❤

Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.

Grace and Blessings.

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