Laurier math department faces backlash over mandatory external webcams needed for spring exams

Wilfrid Laurier University students have been airing their concerns over social media regarding an email that was sent out this week by the math department detailing revised online exam procedures.

The notice was addressed to students who are registered in at least one course offered by the math department in the spring term.

https://twitter.com/SpottedLaurier/status/1258510743684542464

“… you are required to have an external, stand-alone webcam (with a minimum resolution of 720p) for your online final examination in all Math/Stat courses. Built-in/integrated webcams are not accepted, and there are no alternatives to writing exams in this manner,” the email stated.

“If you do not already have an external webcam, I strongly advise you to acquire one asap. At the moment they are in very short supply. Check online but deal with reputable companies only (e.g. Amazon, BestBuy, Dell) — be careful of resellers. Additionally, to mount a webcam in a proper way, you may need a tripod.”

Students have been discussing the potential limitations of this course requirement on Twitter and Reddit, arguing that it adds an unnecessary burden for people struggling with the current realities of the COVID-19 global crisis.

As well, Reddit user u/_this_is_A_name_, highlighted the possible risks associated with digital privacy, specifically related to the mandatory use of LockDown Browser and the inclusion of an external webcam that would give proctors a full view of the room a student is writing an exam in.

Regarding being forced to buy webcams; privacy concerns of video surveillance during online exams from wlu

 

Laurier released an official statement today in response to student criticism.

“The university has received a number of student inquiries about webcam requirements for August online final exams in Mathematics/Statistics courses. The university strives to balance the need for measures to ensure academic integrity during online courses and exams with the technology and financial realities of our students,” the update said.

 

“The university will share options with students who face difficulty meeting this requirement and will respond in detail to our students to answer their questions.”

More updates to come.

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