I think many of us are familiar with and have had our own personal experiences with Lockdown Browser and RPNow. We know the reasoning for it is to prevent cheating on assignments, exams, and other assigned material. But is this software becoming an invasion of privacy on students? Since COVID-19, things have become more technologically focused. With classes and exams becoming virtual, protocol to prevent cheating did have to tighten up. These protocols require you to do certain routines before even entering your exam. For example, the new software “RPNow” makes you record your living area and take profile pictures with and without your ID all while simultaneously recording your every move.

This begs the question: Has virtual software become an invasion of privacy for students?

Before the pandemic arrived, there was a certain sense of normalcy. All students were able to come to class, and never had to discuss information about their living environment unless it was by choice. Now it seems with these mandatory softwares, students can no longer keep their living environment private if they choose to do so. What if a student feels as if their living environment is inadequate and did not want anyone to know? The confidentiality that students once had is now gone.

If having to scan your room is not already intrusive enough, you must be recorded the entire time as well. The testing software is designed to track movements during the recording; too much movement alerts teachers of possible cheating. However, there are many students who genuinely get anxiety or lose their train of thought during an exam. Some ways students try to relax is by looking around, looking up or down, or closing their eyes. These methods that students try to use to relieve themselves during test taking are also the same triggers that software uses to signal cheating to professors. The result is students having to act in such a way that may seem or feel abnormal to them.

The stress and anxiety of already trying to do your best and still operate during a pandemic is more than enough for students to handle. Statistics show that 8 out of 10 students are reporting an increase of stress and 44% worry about their ability to enroll or stay enrolled in college. Now the stress and anxiety of trying to maintain a decent or “normal” composure during a test is now a new problem presented to students.

The software being used to monitor students is equivalent to a surveillance camera. Students are being monitored and watched during this new virtual process. When will someone finally say enough is enough? After having to scan your entire room and recording what is under, behind, and around you then you are permitted to take an exam testing your mental knowledge of the material. It seems that college has almost turned into a “Big Brother” game where every move of a student is being watched and critiqued.

I question if there will ever be a limit to how far these virtual classes can go and record in the name of academic integrity?

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