Freedom of Information #
Curriculum Changes #
Basic Aid #
Sex Education #
Individualized, shared, and student led #
Faster, lower standards #
Better testing #
Fuck Respondus And Proctorio #
The following is a (slightly edited) excerpt from an email I felt necessary to send to my professors at the start of the spring semester, 2021
First and foremost, they’re just creepy. Taking tests digitally but in person is fine with me because I know those computers are secure and dedicated to the single use. Respondus and Proctorio effectively amount to spyware that students are being asked to install onto their personal devices.
Second, they’re both insecure. while this article (soatok.blog) written by a friend of mine focuses on Proctorio, just doing a tiny bit of digging will turn up plenty on Respondus as well. So now it’s not just spyware, but insecure spyware.
Third, they’re a bit hyper-sensitive (Vice, voiceofsandiego.org) . I’ve read some articles where students even talking to themselves (which a lot of people do when alone and thinking hard!) have been flagged because the system thinks they’re talking to someone else in the room.
This sensitivity is particularly bad when you consider many of the datasets used to train the algorithms that these programs use give the systems a racial bias (technologyreview.com).
I also worry about my strange hardware setup. If these systems are looking for ‘strange’ I think my system with 30 usb devices, including 2 webcams, 2 mice, and 3 HID keyboards, would fit that bill. I don’t want to have to rip my setup apart to take a test.
They also depend on a strong internet connection. If I have a brief frame drop while my webcam is on and I’m taking a test, you may notice I freeze up and then start moving again. Responds may think I’m actively tampering with my webcam and tell you I’m doing something nefarious.
Fourth, all of the options I’ve seen (Proctorio, Respondus, etc.) are primarily available for Windows only, with some having OSx clients but none of them supporting Linux, which is the OS I normally use. Sure, I can boot into Windows, but some other students may be using chromebooks or only have Linux on their system.
Finally, there’s a bit of a normalization of spyware that education using these tools can cause. This is bad for any student, but it’s especially bad for CS and CE students who, lacking real ethics education at [My University], see this as an example. This makes software that has no right to exist look acceptable. For ‘normies’ it just further normalizes a category of software which is heavily used for domestic abuse, a stat that while I could cite a source for, I can also tell you I’ve seen for myself multiple times.
I understand the need for secure, online testing, but this is certainly not the right solution.
One of the replies to this email did sort of make my day though:
Short answer: no, I won’t use them.
Slightly longer answer: I won’t use them since there will be no exams or quizzes in this course.
Even longer answer: Even if I did have exams or quizzes, there’s no way in hell I’d use that awful, awful software. My conscience and my son would never forgive me.
Of course, this is a rabbit hole you can keep going down. You might want to keep an eye on this: Proctorio filed a SLAPP suit if you want to see them fall on their faces.
Free College #
The Following is from ‘Modern Universities Are An Exercise in Insanity’ on The Scholar’s Stage Blog:
The average tenure hopeful adjunct makes $40 an hour. If you were to employ her as a private tutor at the cost of $60 an hour, and had four hours with her a week, and did that for 14 weeks (that’s the length of an average college course folks) that is about $3,400.
Were you to employ three such professor-tutors, that would be about $10,200, or a bit over $20,000 a year. In four years you would have racked up $80,000 in costs. But this is still $30,000 less than the total for the ‘cost conscious’ universities. It is a quarter of what you would pay for Trinity.
Remember: this $80,000 is for private tutoring, where individual attention would give you far and away a better and more thorough education than the 300-kids-in-a-lecture-hall style of classes that dominate undergraduate education today.
But it can get even cheaper. Let’s say you take the general principle of group classes from the university. Say you can find four other people to take all of these other classes with you. Just four. Well that equals out to $680 per class, or $16,000 a person for four years of classes.
Invasive Technology #
Apps, GoogleClassroom, etc