LSU is working with an educational technology solutions company to design a proctoring service for the University as an alternative to ProctorU.
The fees for the new service are yet to be determined but will likely be less than other services currently utilized by professors.
Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Matthew Lee said that after receiving backlash for ProctorU's alleged privacy issues, LSU began discussing moving proctored tests in-house so that those concerns are alleviated. He also noted, however, that after the University commissioned experts to examine the reported issues, they determined the threats are not as severe as originally assumed.
"We've had our experts look into the privacy concerns and the feedback I've gotten is it's generally not as severe as people believe it is," Lee said. "I was told point blank that when you log into Instagram or Twitter that you are routinely giving up more information than you are on ProctorU, you just don't realize it."
Lee also said the University has encouraged faculty to use ProctorU as a "last resort," because of the privacy concerns and the high costs for students, which can range from $5-$15 per exam. The in-house proctoring service will still have a nominal fee, but it will hopefully be less than other services, he said.
Director of Testing and Evaluation Services David O'Brien said that his office is working with a vendor to create an extension of their current proctoring framework, which would create an on-campus remote proctoring service.
"This new option will allow our office to actively proctor exam sessions," O'Brien said. "If this product works as expected, it will give LSU greater control and accountability over many aspects of the live proctoring process."
Students are left to wonder why their tuition won't be covering the new testing services as it did in the past through the Testing Center at Himes, especially since Himes won't be fully operational in the Spring. Only pencil-and-paper exams will be offered for in-person classes, administered by testing officials in designated areas across Himes.
Assistant Vice Provost Melissa Brocato explained that the service won't be free because the Office of Testing and Evaluation (OTES) is funded not through tuition, but through a combination of state funds and self-generated revenue.
"OTES generates its own revenue by providing testing services primarily to the surrounding community in order to offer in-person proctoring of LSU course tests in the Testing Center at no cost to students," Brocato explained. "Due to the recent closure and restrictions, OTES was unable to generate funding [which resulted] in revenue losses that actually limit its ability to operate the Testing Center service."
The Technology Fee that students pay in tuition is sometimes allocated to purchase new computers and exam software. So while students don’t directly fund testing services on campus nor do they pay for any employee salaries, they do play a role in making the department technologically equipped.
Brocato added that LSU was in discussion with two companies to create new programs for students before the pandemic, and it was then determined the software could also be turned into a proctoring service.
"It just so happened that prior to the COVID contingency OTES was in the process of implementing a new and improved student test scheduling system through [two vendors]," Brocato said. "These two software solutions are funded by the Student Technology Fee. In discussions with [a vendor] during the contingency, it was determined that the software might also be utilized to conduct on-campus remote proctoring which could address specific challenges experienced with outside proctoring vendors, and provide another option for remote proctoring."
The Office of Testing and Evaluations hopes to have the service at least partially implemented by the spring semester and fully functional by the fall semester.
"OTES and [a vendor] have been working together to explore technology that would benefit students by having LSU provide accountability for proctors, on-site tech support, minimal cost and ways to address privacy concerns of live-remotely proctored tests," Brocato said. "The feasibility of this solution is still being explored, so costs, while lower than current live-remote proctoring options, are yet to be determined."