Student surveillance

“That anxiety you feel for those 10 seconds? … That’s how basically all of us feel” all the time.

Student surveillance
An empty classroom. (Photo by alam kusuma)

Full story: Cheating-detection companies made millions during the pandemic. Now students are fighting back.

Some students said the experience of having strangers and algorithms silently judge their movements was deeply unnerving, and many worried that even being accused of cheating could endanger their chances at good grades, scholarships, internships and post-graduation careers.

Several students said they had hoped for freeing, friend-filled college years but were now resigned to hours of monitored video exams in their childhood bedrooms, with no clear end in sight.

“You know how in high school, when you’d be doing a test and a teacher would walk around and peer over your shoulder?” said one student, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid academic repercussions. “That anxiety you feel for those 10 seconds? … That’s how basically all of us feel” all the time.

Said another: It felt like “somebody was watching me just lose my mind.”

More to read

In April, I wrote one of the first stories about the rise of "remote proctoring" software during the pandemic:

When University of Florida sophomore Cheyenne Keating felt a rush of nausea a few weeks ago during her at-home statistics exam, she looked into her webcam and asked the stranger on the other side: Is it okay to throw up at my desk?

Last year, I reported on how colleges were using beacons and sensors to map students' movements across campus:

“We’re adults. Do we really need to be tracked?” said Robby Pfeifer, a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, which recently began logging the attendance of students connected to the campus’ WiFi network. “Why is this necessary? How does this benefit us? … And is it just going to keep progressing until we’re micromanaged every second of the day?”

Thanks for reading. Let's talk: [email protected].