How to Explore Tech Literacy by Investigating Virtual Proctoring

Teach YR

How to Explore Tech Literacy by Investigating Virtual Proctoring


Students know that prickly feeling they get when a teacher is winding their way through rows of desks as the entire class takes a test. As the teacher walks by, they may sit up a little and stare extra hard at the paper in front of them because even though they’re not doing anything wrong the last thing they want is to be mistaken for a cheater.

Today, virtual proctoring tools are being used more and more in schools and they damage the learning environment in ways only students fully understand.  In SurveillanceU: When Virtual Proctoring Gets It Wrong, students and others are invited to use the playful simulated experience developed by YR Media Interactive and consider the very serious implications for the future of educational equity, student privacy and mental health. 

Drawing from this interactive experience, this lesson plan supports educators in guiding their students through creating video responses that integrate discussion-based learning and critical thinking as they respond to their experience of using the SurveillanceU Simulator. It also provides an intro into digital storytelling and video voice methods, as students become videographers making videos of their peer interviews!

*Materials needed*: at least 5 phones or computers with cameras, headphones (optional), at least 5 computers with Powerpoint or Google Slides.


  • Raise awareness about the flaws and impacts of proctoring technology universities are using more and more in pandemic times
  • Get users thinking critically about effects of this software on trust, equity, and mental health in learning environments 
  • Provide resources and inspiration for students and parents to take action against the misuse and over-reliance on technology, especially when it can negatively affect the well-being of young people and young adults. 


  • Do you consider yourself to be a good test taker? Why or why not?
  • Do you know what virtual exam proctoring is? 
  • What is your experience with virtual exam proctoring? 
  • Do you see surveillance and artificial intelligence being used in schools today in any other ways? Are there any ways you could see AI and surveillance being brought into schools in the future? What do you think the impact is/could be? 

NOTE: Give students time to reflect on the question(s) before answering; you may want to set aside a few minutes for them to journal the prompt before discussing. You may want to come up with your own answer to this question as a model for students. You can invite students to answer as a whole class, in pairs or small groups, using break-out rooms if students are not in person.


Give students 5-10 minutes to explore the YR Media interactive, SurveillanceU Simulator.  

NOTE: If students are in class, they will need headphones or will need to group up to listen to the young people featured in SurveillanceU Simulator. Otherwise, it might be too noisy. Alternatively, this first activity can be done as a pre-step at home. 

Part 1:  Explore the What Gets Flagged Section on SurveillanceU Simulator

  • What “cheating” behaviors are you most surprised about?
  • What “cheating” behaviors do you think would be the hardest for you to not do? 
  • In what ways does virtual proctoring seem different from taking a test in person?

Part 2: Try out the SurveillanceU Simulator 

  • What behaviors got you busted the most?
  • Based on your experience with the proctoring system, do you think you’d be able to pass a test if you were being virtually proctored? Why or why not?
  • How do you think taking a test monitored with virtual proctoring would affect your mental health?

Part 3: Discuss the answers to the questions above in small groups


Respond to experience w/ Surveillance U Simulator.

Part 1: Draft questions for peer interviews

Invite students to spend 10-15 minutes drafting questions for their peers about their experience with SurveillanceU.  Students may use YR Media’s DIY resource Art of the Interview to help them come up with good questions. Remember good questions are:

  • concise
  • open-ended (won’t result in a simple yes or no answer)
  • fair and free of bias
  • show that the interviewer has done their homework
  • clear
  • relevant 

Remind students how powerful questions can be when they elicit stories from interviewees: “Can you walk me through a time that…” “And then what happened…” “What did you see, hear, think when…” These types of questions can really get people talking!

NOTE: It helps to have practiced doing interviews beforehand with YR Media’s lesson plan How to Use Interviews to Get Students Talking 

Have students pick 3 final questions that they would like to use to interview one of their peers.

Part 2: Do practice run of interviews

Invite students to pair up and do a trial run of their interviews. One student will be the interviewer and then they’ll switch so the other student is the interviewer. Students will record the interviews using their phone or another handy device. When they are done with the trial interview, students can debrief together using these questions:

  • What went well?
  • Were the questions concise, open-ended, and clear? 
  • Are there areas of improvement? 

After debriefing with their partners, students will listen to their interviews independently and edit their questions for their final interview.


Students will do their final interview while using video recording, which can be done using a camera on a laptop or phone. The camera should be trained on the student interviewee.

Lastly, create a slide deck and share it with your students instructing them each to embed their videos into separate slides

Invite students to explore and interact with their peers’ slides in the deck. 

*Optionally, you can require students to engage in “peer critique” making at least two comments on their peers’ work. Some prompts for comments are:

  • What did they find surprising? 
  • Did any one person’s perspective really resonate with you? 
  • How would you have answered differently? 


What did you like about this activity? 

What did you find most challenging? 

Having done this activity, is there another topic you’d like to hear your peers’ perspectives on? 

Project companion = Surveillance U: Has Virtual Proctoring Gone Too Far?



  • CCR.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically. 
  • W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • CCR.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. 
  • SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9—10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • SL.9-10.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.


  • ISTE1d Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies. 
  • ISTE3d Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
  • ISTE4a Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems. 
  • ISTE6b Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  • ISTE6d Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences. 

Note: We are grateful for support from the National Science Foundation for YR Media’s reporting and learning tools on artificial intelligence. The opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in our content do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.


Teachers, are you excited about the work your students created? As always, if your students love what they created please invite them to join YR Media’s community and pitch their pieces to our editors. And teachers, sign up here to receive email updates when new curriculum tools are published and become a member of our growing teacher network!

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