Proctoring with Honorlock

FAQs about Honorlock

General Use

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What is automated proctoring and when should it be considered?

Automated proctoring is a common practice in remote courses, as well as some in-person physically distanced courses, and is used by universities worldwide. Automated proctoring is similar to, but not the same as, live proctoring. While live proctoring includes a live person monitoring the exam session, online or automated proctoring of an exam is conducted by an automated system programmable by the instructor. Automated proctoring helps instructors facilitate fair assessments that measure students’ independent student and learning when providing remote or physically distanced assessments, and helps prevent use of a false identity, unauthorized collaboration, use of unauthorized materials, and copying or distributing test items to others.

View these KnowledgeBase documents to walk through various assessment environments that you may choose to use with Honorlock, such as:

  1. Creating a Canvas exam with Honorlock
  2. Using Honorlock as a lockdown browser
  3. Showing your work on an Honorlock exam
  4. Creating a third-party exam with Honorlock

Are instructors required to use Honorlock?

No. Instructors can choose to use a variety of assessment strategies including automated proctoring with Honorlock. Honorlock is just one way that instructors can help promote academic integrity and provide a responsible test-taking environment to ensure students can demonstrate their own independent learning when completing online assessments.

See these recommended assessment strategies for remote instruction.

Can students opt out of using or sharing data with Honorlock?

No – students cannot opt out of using Honolock and the proctoring process, as would be the case if the instructor proctored an in-class exam. Assessment and testing is set at the discretion of the instructor. Student compliance with the assessment and testing is a condition of enrollment in the class. 

Under the privacy protections outlined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), student consent is not required for the university to share with Honorlock those student education records necessary for carrying out the proctoring service (34 CFR 99.31(a)(1)(i)(B)). FERPA specifically allows universities to treat vendors as school officials and to share student education records with them where they perform services for the university and are subject to FERPA requirements governing the use and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from education records. Honorlock is FERPA compliant and is bound by the terms of its agreement with the university to comply with FERPA’s restrictions on the use of student education records.

Does Honorlock require that students provide a picture of a photo ID to verify their identity?

Instructors can choose to have students verify their identification by providing a picture of a photo ID. Any school or government-issued ID (e.g., UW–Madison Wiscard, driver’s license, passport) that has an image of the test-taker and their name in English will work for the purposes of verifying a student’s identification. The students ID is only used to set up the exam the first time and is only used to verify the test-taker. No other personal identifying information is collected.

Can students uninstall the Honorlock extension from their browser after the exam is over?

Yes, but it is not necessary (the Chrome browser extension operates entirely within the Chrome browser, is only active while students are taking an exam or other assessment, and is limited to certain operations provided by the browser). If students so choose, they can uninstall the extension after their exam is complete. Honorlock provides the option of uninstalling the extension following the completion of an exam. Students can also manually remove the extension by right clicking the Honorlock symbol to the right of the address bar within Chrome, selecting “Remove from Chrome in the menu, and clicking “Remove in the next window. Students will need to reinstall the Chrome extension for any subsequent exams using Honorlock.

Should I use a web conferencing tool for proctoring?

No. Blackboard Collaborate, WebEx, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, or other web conferencing tools are not recommended for proctoring.

Due to complex legal issues and laws in other states and countries, recording of an assessment using a web conferencing tool cannot be supported in UW–Madison courses. (This differs from using Honorlock in that students must authorize the tool recording.) 

Other issues and concerns when using a web conferencing tool for proctoring, include:

  • Reviewing the entire room equitably and not singling out learners for scrutiny.
  • Private chat rooms show who is entering/exiting and will alert students when an instructor enters.
  • Cameras are set to focus on the student and not the assessment being taken, and therefore certain things cannot be seen on the screen (paper/pencil assessment, phone, computer screen and other devices) 
  • Ensuring accessibility needs are met 
  • Since recording is not permitted, there will be no recording of any misconduct if it occurs 

Supporting Students’ Use of Honorlock

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If an instructor decides to use Honorlock, what should be communicated to students in advance of the first exam?

  • Start with clearly communicating assessment goals and strategy in the course syllabus. Consider using or modifying Honorlock’s syllabus language.
  • Communicate which features of Honorlock you are using for which assessments and why.
  • Explain what resources are allowed and not allowed during a given exam (e.g., scratch paper, calculator, whitelisted URLs, etc.). Instructors can select certain options as outlined in this Honorlock KnowledgeBase document. These options will be communicated with students prior to the exam by Honorlock, but instructors should also explicitly share this information with students.
  • Explain what behaviors may trigger flags (such as another person entering the room in which the student is taking the exam) and how flags are reviewed ONLY by you (the instructor). Explain that that flags are not automatic confirmations of misconduct, only that unusual activity was detected. Flags are tagged as either low, medium, or high risk for the instructor’s review after the exam.
  • Set-up practice exams or give students ample opportunity to practice using the tool for low-stake quizzes and activities.
  • Invite students to share information ahead of time about their test-taking environments (e.g, roommates, lack of privacy, pets, etc.) or other concerns with access to technology or internet.
  • Share this pre-exam student checklist.

Does UW-Madison require students to pay for using Honorlock?

No. Students are not required to pay for using Honorlock.

How does Honorlock allow for instructors to accommodate students’ accessibility needs?

Honorlock has a variety of settings that instructors can use to accommodate students’ accessibility needs. In consultation and coordination with the McBurney Disability Resource Center, instructors will work with students and their assigned Access Consultant to make the necessary accommodations in Honorlock, such as allowing for longer testing periods, using additional resources or using a screen reader. For more information, review this comprehensive report about accessibility and support within Honorlock. If a student’s accessibility needs cannot be met in consultation with the McBurney Center, additional accommodations can be discussed with the instructor.

What if students have issues accessing certain technology or a private test-taking space?

The university recognizes that students may face a variety of challenges when engaging in hybrid or fully remote learning – such as access to reliable internet or technology, or a quiet, disruption-free test-taking space. The university strongly encourages students to share this information with their instructor(s) at the beginning of the semester and before taking a test through Honorlock. Instructors can help students find access to available campus resources, such as laptop check-out services, how to check and troubleshoot internet bandwidth, or designated on-campus space for virtual learning and test-taking purposes

If instructors are made aware of students’ individual situations and concerns upfront, at the beginning of the semester and before an exam, it can also help provide instructors specifically when reviewing the proctoring session results and any recorded flags. Flags are not automatic confirmations of misconduct, only that unusual activity was detected (such as loud noises or another person entering the room). All flags are tagged as either low, medium, or high risk and require manual instructor review after the exam.

What if a student needs to wear a face covering when they take an exam. Is that allowed?

Yes. If students are taking a proctored exam in a setting that requires them to wear a face covering, Honorlock may ask them to briefly slide down the face covering for identity verification prior to the start of the exam. Students can then replace the face covering and leave it on for the remainder of the exam. 

Can Honorlock be used internationally?

Because Honorlock requires the use of a Google Chrome browser, some international students may need to use a VPN while taking their exam. UW–Madison recommends and provides a VPN for all staff and students with a netID, which can be downloaded as described in this KnowledgeBase document. Students are not required to use the UW–Madison VPN, but it is considered more reliable than others. A stable internet connection is also needed for all exams using online proctoring, regardless of location.

Data & Privacy

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Is Honorlock compliant with FERPA?

Certain student information and records are covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). UW–Madison protects the information and records in accordance with FERPA and other applicable laws. The UW–Madison Office of Procurement and Strategic Sourcing, in partnership with the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) cybersecurity team and the Office of the Registrar, makes sure that appropriate FERPA language, and language required by other applicable laws, is included as needed in any contract with a third-party information technology service provider signed on behalf of the University (regardless of division or college). UW–Madison agreements with third-party providers meet all obligations under FERPA. Honorlock, like any other approved UW–Madison third-party service provider, is prohibited from using student data in any way except to carry out the contracted services. These resources include computer systems, computer labs, applications, networks, software and files.

What data is tracked/recorded from the web browser extension and how is it handled?

The Chrome web browser extension allows Honorlock to interact with the student and the content of the exam while the exam is taking place. During the exam, the following data may be captured, analyzed, and stored, depending on the options enabled by the instructor:

  • Webcam video, including audio, and screen recording
  • Student information presented by Canvas, such as student name, course number, and exam name
  •  Webpages visited during the exam session
  • Specific behavior that may indicate academic dishonesty, such as attempts to copy/paste into search engines

During the exam, Honorlock’s AI analyzes and flags certain behaviors. Flags indicate that an unusual activity has occurred (such as loud noises or another person entering the room), and are not automatic confirmations of misconduct. The instructor will review the exam session’s flags to determine if any academic misconduct has occurred.

Only UW–Madison personnel with legitimate educational interest in the records may have access to student data. Also, key staff within Honorlock will have access, if needed, in order to provide quality control and support for UW–Madison instructors. These individuals are bound to the FERPA and privacy requirements required by the UW–Madison/Honorlock master service agreement.

The university’s agreement with Honorlock does not allow Honorlock to sell student information to third parties. As mentioned above, our contract with Honorlock has specific legal requirements for the protection of student information that supersede Honorlock’s standard Terms of Service (publicly available on their website) and bind Honorlock to all of the protections supplied by FERPA.

Where does Honorlock store student data?

Honorlock uses an encrypted and secured connection during the exam. All videos and photos are stored in Honorlock’s platform. All data, including photos and video, are stored in an encrypted format on isolated storage systems within Honorlock’s private cloud in Amazon’s AWS U.S. data centers. They are SOC 2 Type 1, U.S. Privacy Shield and GDPR compliant. UW–Madison owns the data, and it is treated as student records.

How long is student data stored?

Honorlock has defined data retention periods of 12 months, after which all student-related data is automatically purged. Upon request from the university, Honorlock can extend the data retention of a student’s data up to an additional 12 months if the university requests an extension of a particular student’s data related to an academic integrity investigation.

Who has access to student data?

Only UW–Madison personnel with legitimate educational interest in the records may have access to student data. Also, key staff within Honorlock will have access, if needed, in order to provide quality control and support for UW–Madison instructors. These individuals are bound to the FERPA and privacy requirements required by the UW–Madison/Honorlock master service agreement.

Is it true that student information could be sold to third parties after participating in an online proctored test?

No. The university’s agreement with Honorlock does not allow Honorlock to sell student information to third parties. As mentioned above, our contract with Honorlock has specific legal requirements for the protection of student information that supersede Honorlock’s standard Terms of Service (publicly available on their website) and bind Honorlock to all of the protections supplied by FERPA.

Where can I find more information about Honorlock’s policies regarding student privacy and audiovisual data use?

See Honorlock’s Student Privacy Statement.

How does the Honorlock Chrome extension work and how does it protect student privacy?

Honorlock requires students to use a Google Chrome browser and install the Honorlock Chrome extension. Google Chrome extensions operate entirely within the Chrome browser, and these extensions have access to limited operations provided by the browser. The extension is only active while students are within the exam in Canvas.

When downloading the Chrome extension, we recommend that students create a new Chrome profile (https://honorlock.kb.help/-students-starting-exam/creating-a-new-chrome-profile) to use during assessments with Honorlock. This profile creates a fresh version of Google Chrome, free of all existing data, and, when finished, students can simply switch back to the default profile. This is an added security measure, but no data is tracked or stored outside of FERPA related use during the exam period. The data Honorlock stores is only during the exam period and is not kept as part of the data retention.

If they choose, students can uninstall the extension after their exam is complete; however this is not necessary, as the Chrome browser extension operates entirely within the Chrome browser, is only active while students are taking an exam or other assessment, and is limited to certain operations provided by the browser. Students will then need to reinstall the Chrome extension for any subsequent exams using Honorlock.

Does Honorlock scan home networks and monitor data from any device connected to that network during a student’s proctoring session?

No. Honorlock does not scan home networks or monitor data from any device on the network other than the one used for testing. Secondary devices, such as phones, can be detected, but this is not accomplished by network snooping. Other users connected to the same network during a student’s Honorlock session can process personal or confidential information concurrently without fear of eavesdropping on secondary device activities. In addition, the application does not have the capability of intercepting network communications from devices connected to the same network during the student’s session.

Does Honorlock monitor secondary devices?

Honorlock does not access the test-taker’s network, nor does it monitor or access any secondary devices that are on the test-taker’s network. Honorlock monitors the internet connection to ensure and document the quality of the connection during the test-taking experience. This helps with addressing situations where the test-takers internet connection becomes unstable during the test-taking experience. For a complete description of how Honorlock’s secondary device detection works, see Honorlock Patent Information for Multi-Device Detection.

Does Honorlock ‘intercept’ searches or control or interrupt network traffic from any secondary devices?

Honorlock does not ‘intercept’ searches, nor control or interrupt any network/internet traffic from any secondary devices at any time. Honorlock utilizes Search Engine Optimization in an attempt to seed “honeypot” sites with exam questions, as described below. Honorlock does not, at any point, control any device, secondary or otherwise, to deliver the service.

Does Honorlock have the capability to monitor the use of a student’s smartphone during an examination session?

Students using their smartphones to search online resources for test questions should note that Honorlock utilizes a manual technology to detect academic integrity issues. Specifically, Honorlock hosts websites with seeded test questions that, when assessed during an examination session, sets off an action, such as a sound alert, on the phone. This action is picked up during the student’s session and may alert 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.

Exam Monitoring & Flagging

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What are examples of behaviors that might be flagged?

When setting up an exam or other assesssment in Honorlock, an instructor can choose certain resources that students can or cannot use during the exam (e.g., scratch paper, calculator, whitelisted URLs, etc.) in the “Student Guidelines” section. These options will be communicated with students prior to the exam by Honorlock, but should also be explicitly shared with the students by the instructor.

Instructors are encouraged to clarify or expand upon any or all of the items the choose to enable in the “Additional Instructions” section. These guidelines and additional instructions will be visible to students when starting the exam. Honorlock’s AI flags behaviors such as being out of view of the camera for an extended period of time, accessing unauthorized websites, and speaking with another person in the room. It is up to the instructor to review these flags to determine if any academic misconduct occurs.

Does a student know if they have been flagged in an exam?

A student is not aware when they have been flagged during an exam, and they are not alerted if they have been flagged following the exam. In instances where an instructor reviews a flag and determines that academic misconduct has occurred, the instructor will follow appropriate university protocol for such misconduct.

How are exams monitored, and who reviews flagged behavior?

Honorlock’s AI monitors students during the exam and automatically generates a flag if unusual activity is detected. Once an exam session is complete, instructors are able to review flags to determine if any academic misconduct occurred. Flags are not automatic confirmations of misconduct, only that unusual activity was detected. All flags are tagged as either low, medium, or high risk and require manual instructor review after the exam.

Who determines if academic misconduct occurs?

Instructors make the final decision about whether a flagged behavior during an exam should be handled as academic misconduct. If an instructor reviews a flag and determines that academic misconduct did not occur, no action is taken. In instances where an instructor determines that academic misconduct has occurred, the instructor will follow appropriate university protocol for such misconduct. Students who feel wrongly accused of a violation will have the opportunity to request a repeal.