FAQs about Honorlock
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What is automated proctoring and when should it be considered?
Automated proctoring is a common practice in remote and 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 independent student work 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:
Are instructors required to use Honorlock?
No. Instructors may use a variety of assessment strategies that don’t include automated proctoring. However, when the nature of the course or instruction makes automated proctoring a necessity, you may choose Honorlock to help ensure the academic integrity of your test.
Please review these assessment strategies on how to adapt exams and assignments for teaching remotely. In acknowledgement of the disruptions that students and instructors are experiencing, these are flexible, supportive recommendations that provide options for conducting assessments that best meet your course goals.
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 what features of Honorlock you are using in your assessments and your reasons.
- Explain what things are allowed and not allowed during a given exam (e.g., scratch paper, calculator, whitelisted url’s, etc.). An instructor can select certain options as outlined in this Honorlock KnowledgeBase document, such as taking an exam in a public place or having background noise, as acceptable behaviors during the assessment. 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.
- Share 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 by you (the instructor). Also note that 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.
- Give students ample opportunity to practice using the tool for low-stake quizzes and activities.
- Give students the opportunity to share information about their test-taking environments (e.g, roommates, lack of privacy, pets, noise etc.) or concerns with access to appropriate technology or the internet.
Can students opt out of using Honorlock in their courses?
No. Where an instructor has decided to use Honorlock for a class students cannot opt out of 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.
Is student consent required to use Honorlock?
No. 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.
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.
What are examples of behaviors that might be flagged?
When setting up, an instructor can elect the Student Guidelines deemed applicable to this assessment. There will be a list of items the instructor can select from to tell exam takers what they can or cannot do during the assessment. Instructors are encouraged to clarify or expand upon any or all of the items you choose to enable in the Additional Instructions section below. These guidelines and Additional Instructions will be visible to exam takers when starting their 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 an academic integrity violation has occurred.
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.
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.
How does the Honorlock Chrome extension work and how does it protect student privacy?
Honorlock requires that you use the 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.
To mitigate concerns of monitoring outside of the exam session, UW–Madison recommends 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.
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.
Does Honorlock require that students provide a picture of a photo ID to verify their identity? Is this information saved/stored?
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 will work for the purposes of verifying a student’s identification.
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.
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 for automated proctoring 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?
This link provides additional information on Honorlock’s Student Privacy Statement.
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, the patent information can be found here and on the Honorlock Patent Info 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 my 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.
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 exam content during the exam. 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. Then, an instructor with legitimate educational interest can review the exam session’s flags to determine if any academic integrity violations occurred.
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 there was an academic integrity violation. Keep in mind that flags are not automatic confirmations of cheating or misconduct, only that unusual activity was detected. All flags are tagged as either low, medium, or high risk and require manual instructor review.
Prior to your exam, it is best to alert your instructor if you do not have a private, quiet space to take your exam. Knowing this in advance is helpful, because it provides your instructor with context about your testing environment and allows you to concentrate on your assessment instead of fearing you’ll be accused of cheating.
Who determines if academic misconduct occurs?
Instructors make the final assessment about whether a flagged behavior during an exam should be handled as academic misconduct. . If an instructor reviews the video 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 university protocol for academic honor policy violations. Students who feel wrongly accused of a violation will have the opportunity to request a repeal.
Can students uninstall the Honorlock extension from their browser after the exam is over?
Yes. The Honorlock extension is safe, but students can choose to uninstall the extension after their test 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.
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.