Proctorio sponsor OEB, so it’s a no from me

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Online Educa in Berlin is one of the biggest ed tech conference in Europe. I’ve been a couple of times and was going to attend this year, mainly for the gluhwein. But I see on their website that proctoring company Proctorio is now their platinum sponsor.

I genuinely appreciate that running conferences is a difficult balancing act, made even more precarious in post-pandemic times when travel is still uncertain for many. Getting sponsors for a conference is often the difference between it being feasible and not. But equally, one must ask, what would it take for a sponsor to be deemed unsuitable? And for me, Proctorio are some way over that line.

This is not because they are a proctoring company – I have reservations about proctoring, but I know that in some cases they may be required, and not all proctoring methods are the same (for instance, UniWise seems less intrusive). Others I know will take a stronger stance on this and reject all proctoring, and I respect that. But personally, if another proctoring company was sponsoring I might hold my nose and attend.

But the difference with this particular proctoring company is their, in my view, aggressive legal stance towards criticism. They are currently suing a student and their protracted case against Ian Linkletter. As I’ve argued before, these are actions which I see as antithetical to core values of higher education. For any conference that aims to be serving the needs of those operating in higher ed, giving a platform and legitimacy to such a company undermines their validity.

There are people I admire on the OEB speaker list, and many of these will have signed up prior to Proctorio being announced as the key sponsor. The reasons people have for attending a conference are varied and I wouldn’t want to argue that no-one should attend, but I don’t feel comfortable going and it’s a question you might ask yourself too. I guess it’s homemade gluhwein this year then.

[Update: I noticed that the theme of the conference is “Learning Resilience”. I would argue that one form resilience could take is for higher ed not to be forced to align with companies it finds unethical in order to fund conferences. A second form of resilience might be redesigning assessment and education so that intrusive proctoring is not required.]

5 Comments

  1. I stand with you on this and am now paying attention to the sponsor list of events I plan to attend or submit to.
    I didn’t pay attention to that at all in the past.

  2. “A second form of resilience might be redesigning assessment and education so that intrusive proctoring is not required.” I’d raise a glass of gluhwein to see that!

  3. Absolutely! Was shocked when I first heard about proctoring and its intrusiveness.

    Also, will bear in mind looking at sponsors, thank you, Martin.

    Pity about the Glühwein though 😉

    But then again, the basics: red wine, a few slices of orange, star anise, cinammon stick, cloves, sugar – enjoy.

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