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Digital Proctoring - Guidance on Explaining Proctoring to Students

The article addresses student concerns about the use of proctoring software in the Digital Learning Environment at UW-Milwaukee. To alleviate student concerns, instructors are advised to include information about digital proctoring in their syllabus or in a start-of-semester email, or to discuss it directly with their students.


Among the greatest frustrations voiced by students regarding proctoring software is the potential for a negative impact on their computer and concerns about their privacy. For example: how much can proctoring software control their computer; can it install a virus; does the software company collect and sell student data; do support staff personnel watch students while they take exams? 

Many of these fears can be alleviated through a simple conversation or email: let students know a bit more why you’re using proctoring software, how it impacts their computer, and what happens to their personal data. Providing this information to students at the start of the semester can do much to alleviate their unease and give students who are distrustful of the tool an opportunity to discuss their concerns with you and perhaps even arrange an alternative to proctoring enabled exams. 

Adding Language to your Syllabus

Perhaps the easiest way to introduce digital proctoring to your students is to include language about it in your course syllabus. You can also offer this information via a start-of-semester email. Below are two examples.

Another method to introduce digital proctoring is to discuss it with your students. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding proctoring software. Feel free to use these questions and answers as you like. You can include them in an email, simply use them to address student concerns as they arise, or otherwise employ them as you like. 

Frequently Asked Student Questions

Why are we using digital proctoring software?

  • One of the reasons UW-Milwaukee chose to utilize a proctoring service was to maintain student equity: to give each test taker an opportunity to earn the grade they deserve, and ensure the grade you receive is not diluted by students who cheat.

  • Another reason is that COVID mitigation processes required us to offer exams remotely. We chose a digital proctoring solution, because software-based proctoring services are significantly less costly to students than live proctoring, and permit us to assign exams without requiring students to schedule test-times in advance.

Are proctoring tools viruses; and can it control my computer, or otherwise cause my computer to crash?

  • No. proctoring tools are tested and vetted by multiple groups in the UW System for use at UW campuses.

  • Proctoring tools have limited and defined access to your device and is otherwise unable to “take over a computer,” or crash it.

  • Also note, that when you are not taking an exam in Canvas, the proctoring tool used in your course is non-functional, and can be easily ignored or uninstalled, then reinstalled in preparation for your next quiz. 

Can proctoring software delete information from my computer?

  • No. There is one exception for courses which use Proctorio: if an instructor decides to activate the “delete browser cache” setting, Proctorio will delete your browser cache. 

How safe is my data using UWM's proctoring tools? 

  • Only select tools have been approved to be used for students at UW-Milwaukee. 

  • All information is encrypted and can only be unlocked by authorized users (such as your instructors) within UW-Milwaukee’s instance of Canvas.

Can proctoring data be stolen, sold, or viewed by support staff?

  • No. Your data is encrypted "at rest" and "in transit", and can only be viewed by staff at UWM, and at the company, who have authorization. 

  • Unless your instructor chooses to use Zoom as part of proctoring, there is no actual human monitoring students while they complete an exam. Companies which UWM uses for proctoring have zero access to any videos & recordings of actual students; UW-Milwaukee is the only entity with access to this information. Therefore, only UWM employees (your course instructor) can see student information. UWM staff cannot view your information without cause. UWM staff are constrained by strict FERPA guidelines regulating the use of your student data. The data practices used for proctoring videos are similar to controls used for medical records.

Is proctoring software recording my computer, or otherwise operating in the background, while it’s not in use?

  • The software your course uses is only active when you are in Canvas, and only records information when you are actively taking an exam. Your instructor can control how much information is recorded.

  • If you still feel uncomfortable using proctoring software, it is safe to uninstall it when not in-use. 

Who approved proctoring software for use in the classroom?

  • All tools which are used in Canvas, and which hold student information undergo a rigorous vetting process by both UWM and the University of Wisconsin System. For a tool to be reviewed, a university staff member must request for it, and the tool must complete vetting before it is available for use.

For More Information

If students have questions about the safety of their data, they are welcome to contact the UWM Help Desk to submit their questions or concerns.

If you would like to discuss proctoring or alternatives to proctoring, please contact the CETL Support Commons.


KeywordsDigital Learning Environment, Proctoring Software, Student Equity, Remote Exams, Data Safety, Data Encryption, Privacy, Syllabus, UW-Milwaukee, FERPA, Canvas, CETL Support Commons   Doc ID130086
OwnerDavid D.GroupCETL
Created2023-08-01 16:03:59Updated2023-08-01 21:04:01
SitesUW-Milwaukee Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
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