TUM’s problematic view on online exams
With universities massively turning to online teaching, there is a lot of discussion regarding exams, and proposals for tech-enabled, remotely proctored examinations are often propping up.
I came across this deck of slides (archive) titled “Prüfungen von zuhause aus? Geht das?” (“Exams from home? Is that possible?”), authored in May 2019 by the center for teaching and learning of the Teschnische Universität München (TUM). It is nothing short of horrifying.
There are only two instances of students in this TUM presentation: a smiling woman sitting on her bed, and a handful of cheaters.
Surely the author could have considered the reality of going through an online proctored exam for the people who are at the heart of it: the students.
I am mildly nauseated by this discussion of various deep surveillance technical systems that somehow manages not to include a discussion of ethics. Dumping it all on student consent is cheap and careless.
I’d care for a description of the potential for abuse, the risk of loss of control of data, the lack of oversight, and of the deeper human right concerns associated with giving a for-profit third party access to the most intimate aspects of people’s lives. Drew Harwell covers this well in the Washington Post this month: Mass school closures in the wake of the coronavirus are driving a new wave of student surveillance.
After that we could perhaps discuss the issue of fueling deep distrust and contempt between teachers and learners.
Instead, in this deck of slides, we are shown a totalitarian state’s dream system (face recognition, eye movement tracking, fingerprinting, type pattern analysis, remote storage of video recordings, remote control of personal devices, you name it) with flow charts that have smileys in them.
It’s not flattering for the TUM to release a document like this. We have ethics committees for things as small as pacemakers or ABS braking systems. People of TUM. Thinking of that was part of the actual homework.