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Stop examplify petition

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From: Edward A.
Date: Sat 4th Apr, 9:07pm
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The Examplify software chosen by the University for running exams is incredibly 
invasive and has the following creepy characteristics: 

- Monitors your webcam and microphone
- Records your screen
- Logs your keypresses
- Uses AI to monitor these recordings and flag them for human review
- Modifies your computer's system files
- May require you to disable your antivirus
- Collects your phone number and email address
- May disclose your personal data with their marketing partners


In addition your data is stored overseas so who knows what happens to it? 

Finally, it doesn't have Linux support, and can be easily circumnavigated by simply 
putting notes above your computer or talking to someone not visible on your webcam. 

For a top 100 University with a world class CS department, this is a terrible 
solution. 

Petition here:  https://change.org/stopexamplify

Stop examplify petition

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From: Christopher M.
Date: Mon 6th Apr, 8:37am
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"Edward Atkinson"                               wrote:

> The Examplify software chosen by the University for running exams is incredibly 
> invasive and has the following creepy characteristics: 


Thanks for posting this Eric;  it's important that students can make an
informed opinion about what's going on.

ExamSoft has been selected to address a significant problem in difficult
times;  I've not seen a statement that anyone at UWA believes this to be a
perfect solution.  I don't yet know enough about how ExamSoft works and, I
suspect, the hundreds of signatories to this petition have not made much
effort to find out.

I find the wording of the petition quite emotive, and the comments
following the petition suggest that many are conflating ExamSoft with
their own dislike of exams, or whether exams are even a valid assessment
technique.  There's then the irony of people rushing to Facebook to
complain about personal privacy.

I trust that those signing up to change.org, itself, first read its own
Privacy Policy, https://www.change.org/policies/privacy, (and wondered why
it even mentions your computer's MAC address).

I suggest that before jumping to conclusions about how ExamSoft works, that
everyone investigate for themselves by accepting ExamSoft's invitation "If
you have any questions or comments about this privacy policy or the manner
in which ExamSoft collects, stores, or uses your personal data, please write
by email to                     ".  I trust that the author of this petition
has already accepted this invitation, and will share the questions asked and
the replies received.

I trust that those with anti-virus software on their computers also
appreciate that modern AV software also modifies a computer's system
files, employs "AI techniques" to monitor system activity, and also
transmits collected information somewhere, likely overseas.  A lot of
software does this, though very few people read EULAs to understand how
software works or how their personal data is handled.  The primary issue
is not that modern software does this, but whether any risks outweigh
the need to use it.

Those concerned about ExamSoft's Privacy Policy should investigate what is
means to state compliance with US and EU Privacy Acts, including the
penalities for even falsely claiming compliance (it is shame that Australia
is behind in setting its own policies). While we should not blindly follow
the lead of the US, the fact that ExamSoft is used by over 40 US State
Supreme Courts for delivery of their Bar exams, strongly suggests that those
understanding Privacy legislation have confidence in the handling of their data.

Stop examplify petition

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From: Edward A.  O.P.
Date: Mon 6th Apr, 11:34am
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"Christopher McDonald" <chris.                     wrote:

> "Edward Atkinson"                               wrote:
> 
> > The Examplify software chosen by the University for running exams is incredibly 
> > invasive and has the following creepy characteristics: 
> 
> 
> Thanks for posting this Eric;  it's important that students can make an
> informed opinion about what's going on.
> 
> ExamSoft has been selected to address a significant problem in difficult
> times;  I've not seen a statement that anyone at UWA believes this to be a
> perfect solution.  I don't yet know enough about how ExamSoft works and, I
> suspect, the hundreds of signatories to this petition have not made much
> effort to find out.
> 
> I find the wording of the petition quite emotive, and the comments
> following the petition suggest that many are conflating ExamSoft with
> their own dislike of exams, or whether exams are even a valid assessment
> technique.  There's then the irony of people rushing to Facebook to
> complain about personal privacy.

I don't personally agree with the attack on traditional exams as an assessment technique, however that does not diminish the threat to people's privacy and data security that this software represents. 

Ironic though it may be that people are complaining about this on Facebook (I, for the record, am not), that also doesn't eliminate the validity of their concerns. Many of us complain about the quality of our NBN connections on internet forums, the access to which is granted via our NBN provider.


> 
> I trust that those signing up to change.org, itself, first read its own
> Privacy Policy, https://www.change.org/policies/privacy, (and wondered why
> it even mentions your computer's MAC address).
> 
> I suggest that before jumping to conclusions about how ExamSoft works, that
> everyone investigate for themselves by accepting ExamSoft's invitation "If
> you have any questions or comments about this privacy policy or the manner
> in which ExamSoft collects, stores, or uses your personal data, please write
> by email to                     ".  I trust that the author of this petition
> has already accepted this invitation, and will share the questions asked and
> the replies received.

Before signing and sharing this petition I personally sent an email to the office of the Vice Chancellor asking for confirmation that my biometric information would not be provided to or used by Examsoft, I am yet to receive a response.  

> I trust that those with anti-virus software on their computers also
> appreciate that modern AV software also modifies a computer's system
> files, employs "AI techniques" to monitor system activity, and also
> transmits collected information somewhere, likely overseas. 

Only a valid point if someone were using anti-virus software, which as a Linux user, and occasional careful Windows user I haven't felt the need to do so for about 10 years. 

> A lot of software does this, though very few people read EULAs to understand how
> software works or how their personal data is handled.  The primary issue
> is not that modern software does this, but whether any risks outweigh
> the need to use it.

I think the point being made by the petition is that the risks associated with allowing this software access to your computer, its files and your interactions with your computer does not outweigh the need to use it. 
 
> Those concerned about ExamSoft's Privacy Policy should investigate what is
> means to state compliance with US and EU Privacy Acts, including the
> penalities for even falsely claiming compliance (it is shame that Australia
> is behind in setting its own policies). While we should not blindly follow
> the lead of the US, the fact that ExamSoft is used by over 40 US State
> Supreme Courts for delivery of their Bar exams, strongly suggests that those
> understanding Privacy legislation have confidence in the handling of their data.


To summarise my view: It is disappointing that a department of incredibly talented computer scientists, who themselves probably cover their webcams with tape, are willing to risk their students' data because they were unable to devise a different means of assessment than a written, invigilated exam. 

Stop examplify petition

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From: Christopher M.
Date: Mon 6th Apr, 4:05pm
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"Edward Atkinson"                               wrote:

> I don't personally agree with the attack on traditional exams as an assessment technique, however that does not diminish the threat to people's privacy and data security that this software represents.

I believe that a better approach, over a "shut it all down" petition, would be for concerned people to identify
the risks to privacy and security and possible ways to mitigate them.
Haven't seen any discussion around that.


> Ironic though it may be that people are complaining about this on Facebook (I, for the record, am not), that also doesn't eliminate the validity of their concerns. Many of us complain about the quality of our NBN connections on internet forums, the access to which is granted via our NBN provider.

I cannot see the connection you're trying to draw, unless you're suggesting that using the NBN to complain about
the NBN only slows down the NBN. To me, the irony is in people using FB to complain about privacy, while FB just
adds that to their 'file'.


> Before signing and sharing this petition I personally sent an email to the office of the Vice Chancellor asking for confirmation that my biometric information would not be provided to or used by Examsoft, I am yet to receive a response.

Let's hope you receive and share the reply.
One alternative, may be, that an entire 2 hour video is not captured and transmitted, but that the software just
checks (locally) that the user's facial geometry doesn't vary (much) during the exam.  Don't know.


> Only a valid point if someone were using anti-virus software, which as a Linux user, and occasional careful Windows user I haven't felt the need to do so for about 10 years.

Which makes it a very valid point for the majority that do use AV.
If a technical solution must be sought, I'm confident that Linux will be a lost cause,
and am surprised that Macs were included - probably a reason for selecting this software anyway.

 
> I think the point being made by the petition is that the risks associated with allowing this software access to your computer, its files and your interactions with your computer does not outweigh the need to use it.

Yes, that was the point made, but I believe that many have signed the petition without thinking
about the risks or their possible mitigation.


> To summarise my view: It is disappointing that a department of incredibly talented computer scientists, who themselves probably cover their webcams with tape, are willing to risk their students' data because they were unable to devise a different means of assessment than a written, invigilated exam. 

No tape or Facebook account here.
There's a lot of belief that written, invigilated exams are effective; so it's natural that many would seek to replicate them.

This is not a Computer Science problem, nor one that hundreds, thousands, of other universities and certification bodies
have found a solution for for decades.  It's notable that some universities, known for their quality remote delivery of teaching materials,
still require their students to attend exam invigilation centres in big cities.

Stop examplify petition

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From: Christopher M.
Date: Mon 6th Apr, 4:33pm
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And this from the Vice Chancellor, to staff, just now:

Privacy and online exams

"A number of students have emailed me expressing concerns around how conducting online exams
will affect their privacy, given they will be required to download the Examplify application
onto their desktop or laptop.
 
We are currently looking into these issues and will provide further updates shortly,
noting that UWA will always adhere to the responsible and legal management of personal
information and uphold the strictest privacy obligations to students, staff and other
members of the University community."

Stop examplify petition

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From: Jared J.
Date: Tue 7th Apr, 1:13pm
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"Christopher McDonald" <chris.                     wrote:

Great post! Good to have you running the unit. Do people take change.org petitions seriously??

Stop examplify petition

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From: Gordon R.
Date: Wed 8th Apr, 9:53am
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"Christopher McDonald" <chris.                     wrote:

> And this from the Vice Chancellor, to staff, just now:
> 
> Privacy and online exams
> 
> "A number of students have emailed me expressing concerns around how conducting online exams
> will affect their privacy, given they will be required to download the Examplify application
> onto their desktop or laptop.
>  
> We are currently looking into these issues and will provide further updates shortly,
> noting that UWA will always adhere to the responsible and legal management of personal
> information and uphold the strictest privacy obligations to students, staff and other
> members of the University community."


So I looked at the change.org petition and it is clear that many students signing it are worried that 
the software itself is malicious and will install key-loggers or access files unrelated to the actual 
time-period of the test. Personally this seems unlikely to me, given how widely the software is used, 
but I am willing to accept the students' concerns.

Many comments just said that they did not want to use it, which doesn't help us trying to figure out how 
the heck to do online assessments that have some degree of academic integrity.

A few did mention "take home exams" as an alternative, but it is hard for me to see how to do this. It 
would probably be possible in most units to write an exam as an "open book" exam where the questions 
were more difficult and the answers required written explanations and conceptual understanding rather 
than straightforward memorisation and routine applications.

But the problem that I cannot work out how to circumvent is how to avoid possible collusion and/or 
impersonation. 

One option is to just not worry about it, which is what we usually do for smaller assessments, but I 
wonder if this is acceptable to the actual students? Contract cheating sites will quickly supply 
solutions to a take-home exam unless the questions are seriously and artificially personalised.

So what do students prefer?

- a more open-ended/conceptual exam with no constraints on whether *other* students are accessing 
external assistance / impersonation
- a more standard exam with Examplify invigilation trusting that the software only accesses the parts of 
the computer that it claims and immediately deleting it after use

Neither is ideal of course, but I don't know which is less ideal.

(Of course, a third alternative was recently proposed - that students who are so concerned about their 
privacy that they will not use Examplify can defer their examination until the university resumes 
invigilated in-class exams.)

Stop examplify petition

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From: ANONYMOUS
Date: Wed 8th Apr, 10:36am
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People can always reinstall windows after using Examplify. But personally I would rather do an exam at the end 
of semester using this software, than wait until the university resumes normal exams, because I will simply 
forget a lot of course material by the end of quarantine. And also I would rather have a monitored exam with 
webcam and mic monitoring than have something very difficult but with assumption that everyone will do it on 
their own. At least Examplify makes impersonation very difficult.

Stop examplify petition

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From: ANONYMOUS
Date: Wed 8th Apr, 11:49am
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Surely an alternate assessment. Such as a 3000-5000 word report on the content of this unit with applications.

Stop examplify petition

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From: Edward A.  O.P.
Date: Wed 8th Apr, 3:46pm
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> But the problem that I cannot work out how to circumvent is how to avoid possible collusion and/or 
> impersonation. 
> 
> One option is to just not worry about it, which is what we usually do for smaller assessments, but I 
> wonder if this is acceptable to the actual students? Contract cheating sites will quickly supply 
> solutions to a take-home exam unless the questions are seriously and artificially personalised.
> 
> So what do students prefer?
> 
> - a more open-ended/conceptual exam with no constraints on whether *other* students are accessing 
> external assistance / impersonation
> - a more standard exam with Examplify invigilation trusting that the software only accesses the parts of 
> the computer that it claims and immediately deleting it after use
> 
> Neither is ideal of course, but I don't know which is less ideal.

Obviously there are a number of people who are taking this as an opportunity to bash the idea of invigilated, closed book exams, a view I do not agree with. There are also others who are taking this as an opportunity to attempt to avoid assessment altogether, another view I do not agree with. 

Two things that seem to be overlooked as potential helpers in this situation are:

1. Invigilated exams via Zoom: Personally, this seems to me the best solution in terms of balancing privacy with concerns about cheating. Having human invigilators watching people sit an exam via Zoom will do as much to combat contract cheating and acts of gross cheating as Examplify will(both can be circumnavigated simply taping notes above your webcam, for example). Obviously for larger units this will prove to be a large logistical exercise, though I feel the technical challenges are not insurmountable. 

2. Predict students' performance and interview candidates who seem to have performed significantly above expectations: The University has access to a reasonable amount of data on students' past performance (and I know for a fact several academics have written papers on predicting student performance based on various indicators), and given the data science talent available in the faculty it is most likely possible to create models which can predict student exams scores based on their past performance. Once these models have been created, student exam performance can be predicted and anyone who exceeds their expected performance by a large enough margin should be interviewed, as well as some randomly selected candidates just to keep people guessing (I'd say interviewing 25% of the cohort should do the trick). Given that all of the CS units have run for several years and many have had the same unit coordinators for several years, past data can be used to help construct models of how students should be performing based on project results etc. 

Obviously for first year units this will be more of a challenge, however I still think a reasonable model could be constructed.

Cheating is very much a game of probability, all you need to do is make the odds reasonable that cheaters will be caught and then the incidence and magnitude of cheating will drop considerably. 

Also, given the policy on ungraded passes, I think you will find that there will be a large clustering of people around 50 who were content with an ungraded pass, and you will only have to look for acts of cheating at the far end of the bell curve where cheating is more likely to occur.

My take on this whole issue is that it is not unreasonable for the university to examine students, simply that there has to be a balance between privacy and exam efficacy. Examplify offers no real benefits over Zoom exams and statistical models on either. 

Stop examplify petition

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From: Jared J.
Date: Thu 9th Apr, 8:20am
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ANONYMOUS wrote:

> People can always reinstall windows after using Examplify. 

I would have used a VM but according to https://www.examsoft.com/chp/dynamic/customcenter.asp?sid=584& VM's are out - has anyone tried? and how does that work, can the software tell if it's being run in a VM?

This part made me laugh

>Computer Operating Systems NOT Supported
>
>     None to report.
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