Hello I have a question regarding video during exams.

My professor is hosting an exam using Zoom, and I was wondering if there was any basis for refusing to use the camera during the exam. Each student will be able to see each other unlike a previous question asking about one-way monitoring.

The exam is also open-notes, and open-book. There is also an issue of cheating that is being discussed. The matter is being discussed because three exams already without the camera but the professor says its kind of just to make sure we are not doing anything sketchy. However, I feel its a contradiction because if the class "cheated" doing his past exams, then why give them the grade.

However, I am wondering if that means I can't refuse the camera.

  • 1
    I modified the tags, and I hope the question is on topic for the site. – EnlightenedFunky May 13 '20 at 21:23
  • 3
    What exactly is the reason for your objection to turning on the camera? – Dan Romik May 13 '20 at 23:29
  • 2
    @EnlightenedFunky but if the exam was happening on campus (I assume you have experience with that) then you would be watched while taking it, wouldn’t you? So “not in school to be watched” is an illogical objection. Obviously you are in school to learn and get tested, being “watched” is only a necessary side effect you have to tolerate to allow the school to perform its essential functions. And if you tolerated it before Covid-19, I’d ask why the current situation is so different that you suddenly feel like rebelling against being watched while taking an exam when you previously accepted it. – Dan Romik May 13 '20 at 23:42
  • 2
    Allowing you the same extra time that you got in person is reasonable and should be accommodated and if you aren't getting that despite your professor being aware then you should complain through your disability office. Having conversations with your family and being interrupted during an exam on the other hand is not reasonable, especially if you have a bedroom you can go into, unless there were some emergency situation like someone choking. – Bryan Krause May 13 '20 at 23:52
  • 5
    @EnlightenedFunky I feel for you, and for every other student having to manage being in school through this very difficult period. It’s hard on everyone, and unfair that you and millions of others were put in this situation. But your objections to turning on your camera don’t sound reasonable, sorry. Anyway, it’s reasonable to discuss this with your professor, maybe they will be willing to work with you and figure out a solution of some sort. Good luck! – Dan Romik May 13 '20 at 23:53

I think you need to deal with this through your instructor or the university. Personally, I think that requiring you to use a camera has ethical and privacy concerns, but I don't get to judge. What should be the case and how you are constrained are probably quite different.

I wish you luck in such a pursuit, but have little faith that you will prevail. Such things are, of course, disruptive to those living in the same place as the student in many cases.

Complain if you can find a way to do so.


It sounds like your professor plans to monitor video to prevent cheating. Since the exam is open note/open book, this would primarily be to make sure students are not collaborating between each other.

I think there are reasons this situation is unfortunate from the students' side: could students be penalized if their video freezes? (mine does all the time on Zoom calls despite a good internet connection and despite good incoming/outgoing audio throughout...) is it fair to give your class a view into your personal living situation?

It's also quite a difficult time from the professor's side: they're trying to make sure they can administer fair and honest exams while knowing that given sufficient leeway some fraction of students will use that to their advantage.

I think it's reasonable to ask your professor for flexibility, but you should have your reasons/concerns in mind and express those rather than only your solution (opting out of video). If you come at it as trying to work between your concerns and those of your instructor, you are more likely to be able to come to some intermediate arrangement.

However, depending on the time until the exam, size of the class, etc, they may not be able to make any allowances in the sake of fairness unless there is a real serious concern. Having your classmates able to see you is probably not going to be sufficient, since they would normally see you in-person as well, unless you already have some disability considerations related to that. They'll all be focused on their own exams anyways and probably won't even have you on-screen.

OP's logic suggesting that because past exams didn't have video this exam doesn't need video (paraphrased) doesn't make much sense to me. Maybe this is a particularly important exam (a final?), or maybe the professor has some circumstantial evidence that cheating happened previously that is insufficient to act on, like certain students having very similar answers. There might not be much they can do about the exams they've already given, but they are probably hoping for a better result for the next one.

  • Same thing my classmates are saying. But thanks +1. – EnlightenedFunky May 13 '20 at 22:48
  • 1
    You say "The logic about past exams doesn't make much sense to me." then go on to give a very reasonable justification. What you are saying in the last paragraph seems like a good justification to require students to turn on the cameras. – Eracnet May 15 '20 at 15:14
  • @Eracnet I meant OP's logic ("However, I feel its a contradiction because if the class "cheated" doing his past exams, then why give them the grade." - this was also expressed similarly and maybe more clearly in a comment that has since been removed), not their professor's. I'll clarify. Indeed the professor's logic makes sense. – Bryan Krause May 15 '20 at 15:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.