Future of the University

I was reminded of an exam I took for an entry level computer science class when I was reading the prompt. Apart from multiple choice questions and written verbal response, one or two questions (cannot remember how many exactly, it was a while back) require the students to scribble down computer code with pen and paper. Even though I can see the intention behind this rhetoric (to make sure that student have perceived fundamental understanding of syntax of a programming language, etc), this is quite ironic, as no other assistance that was afforded by computers, such as autocomplete or spellcheck, was allowed in a compsci exam. Personally I find this attempt rather lousy, as it would need to create a scenario that is unrealistic and unlikely to occur in everyday in order to meet the metrics set for this class.

I believe that the changes of the higher education extends beyond the physicality aspect. We are in a less-than-ideal situation where universities have to adapt to the evolving situations with not a lot of prior experience, but the reduced physical operation is a good call for administrators, educators, and governance of accreditation institutions that may have set rules that might not be the most forward-looking, to review the modality and mentality related to their teaching philosophy.

Since we were talking about testing: an element that is frequent overlooked is how test proctoring software operates. Since those software can be invasive and might require data collection for identity verification purposes, it is imperative to understand how those personal, usage, and biometric information are handled, if those information would be used for commercial purposes, and if those software would expose the computer it operates on to security vulnerabilities.

3 Replies to “Future of the University”

  1. You make such valid points, Tianyu! I recently met with a student during office hours who was preparing to take her GRE exam remotely. She “proctor” would be similar to what you experienced — monitoring via live webcam feed. I didn’t consider how and/or why companies would collect data for identity verification purposes, but you raise an excellent point about security vulnerabilities. This actually makes me want to advocate more for cameras off during class since a lot of professors record lectures. But, does Zoom keep a database of all of the recordings? And where do these lectures go when the classes end? Sure, there are things like virtual backgrounds and/or ways to can make your space more discrete. However, I think about people who possibly don’t have that ability.

  2. I would be interested in seeing innovation in proctoring software. I haven’t had to do any testing in academia over the past few years. However, I took a test remotely for a professional IT certification. I was required to have a camera on my computer so the live proctor could monitor my test. I was instructed to hold my ID up to the camera and move my computer around to show the proctor the space I was working in. At the time, I was elated because I did not have to drive to a test center. I am always open to new ways we can improve on existing technology.

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