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Room Scans FAQs

December 4, 2024 update

On December 4, 2023, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit granted Cleveland State University’s motion to vacate the district court’s judgment. The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit dismissed the appeals and the case was remanded to the district court with instructions to dismiss the complaint. This case is over.

January 12, 2023 update

After a much anticipated wait, the judge in this case issued a ruling in favor of the plaintiff, Ogletree, but the ruling does not apply to any other exams beyond this specific case. This ruling allows CSU to conduct room scans legally. It is unclear at this time if CSU will continue to pursue its previously filed appeal because the judge’s ruling is only applicable to Ogletree.

October 27, 2022 update

On October 13, 2022, the Defendant (CSU) filed a motion to Alter, Amend, or Correct Opinion and Order.

The Defendant asked the court to Correct the finding that “Cleveland State would not permit” Plaintiff “to take his tests in-person on campus” by finding that Plaintiff was offered the opportunity to take his tests on campus. The Defendant argues the Court concluded that CSU violated the Fourth Amendment, based in part on its finding that “Cleveland State would not permit” Plaintiff “to take his tests in-person on campus.” Defendant; however, submits that Plaintiff could have avoided the room scan by taking the test on campus. Defendant argues that because the Plaintiff had this choice to take the exam on campus then the room scan should not be considered a “search”, but even if it was still considered a search, it was a reasonable search because the Plaintiff had a choice to take the exam elsewhere.

October 10, 2022 update

As of today (Oct. 10, 2022), a motion for permanent injunction and to enforce was filed by Plaintiff Aaron M. Ogletree.

September 21, 2022 update

There is an acknowledgment of receipt today from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that a Notice of Appeal was filed today.

September 20, 2022 update

The parties met on Friday, September 16, 2022 as part of a status conference and the record was updated on September 19, 2022. The Court set a deadline of October 14, 2022, for the defendant (CSU) to move to correct or clarify the Court’s ruling. The Court directed the plaintiff (Ogletree) to file a motion regarding the appropriate remedy. CSU’s response to Ogletree’s motion is due by October 28, 2022.

September 13, 2022 update

This week, the parties In the Ogletree v Cleveland State University (CSU) case filed a status report and request for a status conference with the judge.

Within the report, the plaintiff (Ogletree) argues that the court should stop CSU from its room scan practice and that CSU has not only violated the rights of the plaintiff, but also the rights of other students.

The defendant (CSU) argues that the court’s decision is applicable only to the plaintiff and does not require CSU to cease requiring room scans from other students taking exams in their homes. CSU claims it has acted to address several of the facts that it perceives as having been important to the Court’s conclusion that the scan at issue here was unreasonable. CSU notified all students via email on September 1, 2022, that room scans may be required in remotely proctored examinations. In addition, CSU also sent CSU faculty via email on September 1, 2022, updated instructions regarding proctored exams. One of CSU’s points made to its faculty was: “You are permitted to administer remotely proctored exams using third-party proctoring solutions like HonorLock, Respondus, and ProctorU.” The defendant said it is likely to appeal, once a final, appealable, order is granted.

The court set a status conference for Friday, September 16, 2022, at 2 pm. It’s not clear at this time whether the parties will meet on September 16 or file a motion to meet at a later date.

As Honorlock learns more information regarding this case, we will update this page.

August 30, 2022 

  • Last week, a judge ruled that a remote scan violated a student’s rights under the Fourth Amendment
  • Room Scans, when done correctly, are one of several elements considered best practice for a remotely proctored exam
  • Honorlock was not involved in the exam in question
  • Honorlock allows institutions and instructors flexibility to customize their exam settings

We are aware of an Ohio court ruling, based on a special set of facts, that found a room scan violated the Fourth Amendment.  This summary judgement ruling is not national in scope. Although the judge issued a summary judgement ruling, the final resolution between the parties has not yet been reached. It’s not clear yet whether this ruling will be appealed, which could alter the final outcome of this case.  

Some information that has been publicized including references in the court’s ruling, media coverage, and social commentary is inaccurate, including the misleading assumption that Honorlock’s services were used to proctor the exam in question. Honorlock allows institutions to customize their exam settings to meet their specific needs and is modular in nature so that features, such as room scans, can be turned off.  

Was Honorlock used in the exam in question?
No. Honorlock was not used in any part of the exam.

Is Honorlock involved in this litigation?
No, Honorlock is not involved in the litigation and has not been contacted by anyone in connection with this lawsuit. Additionally, our records indicate that we did not proctor an exam for anyone involved in the litigation. Honorlock’s name being included in this matter is simply because Cleveland State University had multiple proctoring solutions that were all talked about on a FAQ webpage. 

What’s a room scan?
A room scan uses a webcam to get a 360-degree view of the room.

Why is a room scan used?
A room scan helps create a fair test environment by ensuring that there are no unauthorized resources or people in the room.

When is a room scan conducted?
After the student consents to be recorded, there are two times a room scan can take place during an Honorlock proctored test session. The first is during the onboarding process and ensures the integrity of the room at the beginning of a test. After the test is in progress, a proctor may be alerted to an anomaly and ask for the test taker to re-scan the room to further investigate. Each of these can happen multiple times if the test is closed and reentered or if multiple anomalous events warrant a rescan.

How is a room scan completed?
The test taker enables the webcam on their device and completes the room scan by panning the webcam on the device around the room.

Is room scanning commonly used in proctored online exams?
Yes. Room scanning is common in proctored online exams to secure the testing environment by ensuring students don’t have access to unauthorized materials such as phones, other electronic devices, notes, textbooks, etc. 

Should universities halt room scans?
Honorlock continues to believe that room scans, when done correctly, are one of several elements considered best practice for a remotely proctored exam and we will continue to support them on our platform. Honorlock also believes every institution is unique and that’s why we provide flexibility for you to configure your options to best meet your needs. 

Are room scans required by Honorlock?
No. Room scans have never been an Honorlock requirement, but may be required by the academic institution or instructor to ensure an equitable remote testing environment for all students. For example, room scans may be required for closed book exams where instructors want to ensure that students don’t have access to unauthorized resources such as their mobile phones, devices, notes, or textbooks. We understand that students have concerns when taking exams remotely and with that comes our assurance of privacy protection. 

Who can view a room scan?
If an institution is using Honorlock’s services for a particular exam and the institution or the instructor requests to use the optional room scan at the beginning of an exam, the student is instructed by a computer prompt to scan the room using their webcam. The student then proceeds to the online test. A room scan may be viewed by a trained proctor during or after the exam, and by the instructor or administrator after the exam. 

In this court’s ruling, it states that “Other students taking the remote test can see the room scans of other students.” While this may be possible if an instructor is personally overseeing a group test using any of the common video conferencing platforms, this is not possible using the Honorlock platform. At no point is the recording or room scan accessible to other students, other instructors, or any other party. The Honorlock platform operates as a 1:1 proctoring solution. 

What role do room scans play in protecting academic honesty and preventing dishonesty?
A room scan creates a record of the student’s test environment prior to the test beginning to ensure that guidelines are being followed. As a parallel, instructors in a classroom testing environment do the same thing by visually scanning the room. In-person testing centers do the same thing. Remote proctoring uses a room scan for this very same purpose.

Who can proctor an exam on the Honorlock platform?
Only an Honorlock-trained proctor is allowed to proctor an exam utilizing the Honorlock platform. Instructors of an institution do not have access to proctor an exam on the Honorlock platform. In the event that an institution or instructor requires a room scan, the scan, and all proctoring functions, can only be administered by an Honorlock-trained proctor. The instructor or key administrators will have access to review a room scan after the exam. If a flag is triggered during the exam, or if a proctor suspects a violation – such as another person in the room – a proctor may “pop in” to the exam via chat and ask the student to do a room scan. If unauthorized materials are visible in the room scan, they will ask the student to remove them from the room so they can complete their exam in compliance with the rules set forth by their instructor.

Can students opt out of room scans?
It is up to the academic institutions or instructors to determine a policy regarding whether or not students can opt out of a room scan. We are aware of Honorlock customers that have a written policy allowing students to opt-out of online testing entirely, or that allow students to opt out of room scans. Students should work with their instructors to determine their options. The Honorlock platform allows for exceptions to be accommodated on a per-student basis, such as allowing screen readers or opting out of room scans. We recommend that instructors use “Accommodations” to provide clear exceptions to test guidelines for our proctors.

Is Honorlock concerned about student privacy?
Yes. Honorlock was disappointed to hear about the lack of privacy controls in this case. We believe that students have every right to assert their concerns and ask questions to ensure that their educational partners and any technology used are being used in the student’s best interests. We get feedback from students, instructors, and institutions that Honorlock plays a valuable role in protecting the integrity of the educational process while providing a fair and equitable testing environment for all.  

Honorlock has resources available for students who have questions about proctored exams and their privacy:

Honorlock also has resources available for institutions and instructors who have questions about room scans, and other Honorlock features. Please visit the Honorlock Knowledge Base