Cheat-monitor software upsets students

Studying for exams ... University of Otago students (clockwise from top left) Ella Redmond (20),...
Studying for exams ... University of Otago students (clockwise from top left) Ella Redmond (20), Meg Rennie, Phoebe Aburn and Amelia Houston (all 18), Matthew White (20) and Max Chu (20) prepare for examinations, which start today. PHOTOS: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
Semester-one examinations start today at the University of Otago but they will be run online and students will be wary of software designed to stop them cheating.

Students have also been given a five-mark boost, to account for upheaval from Covid-19.

Some seemed to take the disruption to their first semester in their stride.

‘‘I’m pretty relaxed but I’ve got a bit of work to do,’’ first-year student Archie Ritchie (19) said.

His economics, politics and statistics exams are not until June 12-17 but he was off to the library yesterday to study.

First-year commerce student Cameron Cunningham (18) said he was ‘‘pretty chill’’ about exams, his first at the end of this week.

Some students have misgivings about what they see as the intrusion of ExamSoft software. Hundreds of students signed a petition about privacy and other concerns.

Others said completing exams in halls of residence or flats would be an unusual experience.

First-year students De la Rey Myburgh (21) and Lotte Rayner (18) were at the library yesterday, studying for their English effective communication course.

They felt they had not been disadvantaged by online learning during the lockdown.

‘‘Everyone adapted to it and we made it work,’’ she said.

A spokeswoman for the university said ExamSoft had more than 1400 clients worldwide, including Harvard and Yale universities.

Staff worked with ExamSoft to ensure privacy and data security provisions were appropriate, she said.

The Examplify app interacted with students’ computers to provide a secure examination environment, she said.

The university was keen to get feedback from health science and first-year accountancy students about the software.

The university announced previously that students would get a grade boost. Those who scored an A+ would receive a commendation, acknowledging exceptional performance in adversity.

Adjusted marks above 100 would come into calculations for admission to competitive-entry programmes and for the awarding of prizes and other honours.

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