Navigating online proctoring: Introducing HonorLock

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For more information on best practices and to access helpful articles for both instructors and students, please visit the Teaching Tools website.

In today’s growing digital age, higher education has undergone a significant transformation, with online learning becoming more prevalent than ever before. As universities adapt to this shift, ensuring academic integrity in online assessments has become paramount. One solution gaining traction is online proctoring, which provides a means to uphold academic honesty while students take exams remotely.

What is online proctoring?

Proctoring involves monitoring students’ behaviors while they take exams to ensure academic integrity. In an online environment, online proctoring uses information technology to detect potential cheating. In general, the features of the online proctoring technology in the market include but are not limited to:

  • Live proctoring: A third-party proctor remotely monitors individual students in real-time as they take their exams.
  • Recorded proctoring: The online exam is recorded and reviewed later to check for any signs of academic dishonesty. The recording includes screen, audio, and video recording of the student. 
  • Browser lockdown: Students can only access a predesignated web page during the exam. They are prevented from navigating to unauthorized web pages. 
  • Facial detection: Artificial Intelligence looks for two eyes and a mouth to determine whether a student is facing the screen. Please note: The System-sponsored tool HonorLock does not utilize facial recognition to track students.

Things to consider

Although proctoring can potentially be a short-term solution for preventing online cheating behaviors, it is essential to understand the underlying reasons why students cheat. Research (Dendir & Maxwell, 2020; Yu, Glanzer, Johnson, Sriram, and Moore, 2018) has identified several key factors.

  • Lack of preparation: Some students engage in cheating behaviors because they perceive themselves as unprepared for the exam. This could be because students do not have sufficient time to study or because the material's difficulty level is too high to comprehend.

  • Lack of self-control: Even when students know cheating is wrong, they may succumb to the temptation to engage in cheating behaviors when they see the opportunity arise.
  • Pressure to perform: Students are engaged in cheating because the exam stakes are high, and they will take the risk to avoid failure.
  • Attitude towards cheating: Some students view cheating as a way to gain personal benefit or escape the adverse consequences of exam failure.
  • Opportunities to cheat: An unsupervised environment, a course with unclear policies, or a lack of enforcing academic honesty can create room for cheating, especially for students lacking self-control.

While a proctored environment can enhance detection and prevent cheating, online proctoring is not without flaws. Privacy concerns and potential negative effects on students’ performance are important considerations.

Potential downsides

  1. Privacy concerns: Some students may feel uncomfortable with the level of surveillance involved in online proctoring, raising concerns about privacy and data security.
  2. Technical issues: A reliable internet connection and compatible hardware are essential for a smooth online proctoring experience. Technical glitches or equipment failures can disrupt exams and cause students undue stress.
  3. False positives: Automated proctoring software may flag innocent behaviors as suspicious, leading to unwarranted accusations of cheating and potentially damaging students’ academic reputations.
  4. Equity issues: The digital divide refers to the gap between those with access to technology and the internet and those without access. Students from low-income backgrounds or rural communities may need more reliable internet access or appropriate devices, making it challenging for them to participate in online proctored exams. This exacerbates existing inequalities in education and limits opportunities for students who are already marginalized.
  5. Student stress & anxiety: The pressure of being monitored remotely during exams can contribute to stress and anxiety among students. Knowing that their every move is being scrutinized can increase performance anxiety and detract from their ability to focus and perform well on assessments. Additionally, technical issues or interruptions during exams can heighten stress levels and negatively impact students’ exam performance and well-being.

To discuss ways to mitigate these downsides, please consider setting up a consultation with an instructional designer by emailing

Introducing HonorLock

At UM System, we recognize the importance of maintaining academic integrity while supporting our students' diverse needs. We’re proud to introduce HonorLock, our new online proctoring tool to facilitate secure and fair online assessments.

HonorLock offers a range of features to enhance the online proctoring experience, including:

  • Browser lockdown Prevents students from accessing unauthorized websites or resources during exams.

  • Multi-device monitoring: Monitors students' activity on multiple devices to deter cheating. 
  • Live pop-in proctoring: Proctors can intervene in real-time if suspicious behavior is detected. 
  • Accessibility options: Provides accommodations for students with disabilities or special needs.

Best practices & faculty resources

Following best practices and providing ample resources is essential to ensure a smooth and effective online proctoring experience. Here are some key strategies to help you get started:

  • Conduct a low-stakes practice exam: Introducing students to online proctoring through a low-stakes practice exam can help them become familiar with the process and technology without the pressure of a high-stakes assessment or grade. This practice run allows students to troubleshoot technical issues and understand what to expect during an exam, reducing anxiety and ensuring they are well-prepared. You might also leave the practice exam open throughout the semester so students can recheck the system compatibility if their equipment changes or they are having other technical difficulties.
  • Set up expectations and early communication as soon as possible: It’s crucial to inform students about online proctoring requirements and expectations at the beginning of the course. Place a notice in the syllabus outlining the use of HonorLock, including details on how it works, what students must do to prepare, and any specific guidelines they must follow. Early communication helps students plan and reduce last-minute surprises.
  • Provide support resources and clear contact information: When problems arise, students need to know who to contact for assistance. Include instructions for accessing the HonorLock support chat during a quiz session in the syllabus, Getting Started, or a dedicated Proctoring module in Canvas.  HonorLock’s support chat offers around-the-clock support every day. Clearly identifying these points of contact ensures that students can quickly and efficiently resolve any problems they face during the exam.
  • Accessing further resources: For more information on best practices and to access helpful articles for both instructors and students, please visit the HonorLock section on the Teaching Tools website. These resource hubs offer a wealth of information to enhance your understanding of online proctoring and support successful implementation in your course.


Before deciding to implement online proctoring, evaluating its potential pitfalls and advantages is crucial. If online proctoring is a good fit for your class, HonorLock provides a user-friendly solution to help maintain academic integrity. We recommend establishing clear expectations by adding a proctoring statement to the course syllabus, providing instructions for use, and offering a low-stakes practice exam to help students become comfortable with the system. While proctoring can be an effective short-term solution to reduce cheating behaviors, it is also important for faculty to consider long-term strategies. Designing the course to address the underlying factors contributing to academic dishonesty can help minimize cheating in the future.

Missouri Online offers course design consultation to help enhance your instructional strategies. For assistance in addressing academic integrity and reducing cheating behaviors or other areas, please email us at or visit the training calendar to sign up for an upcoming overview webinar.


Dendir, S., & Maxwell, R. S. (2020). Cheating in online courses: Evidence from online proctoring. Computers in Human Behavior Reports, 2, 100033.

Hartnett, M., Butler, P., & Rawlins, P. (2023). Online proctored exams and digital inequalities during the pandemic. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 39(4), 1103–1115.

Kolski, T. (2020). Virtual proctoring and academic integrity.

Woldeab, D., & Brothen, T., (2019). 21st century assessment: Online proctoring, test anxiety, and student performance. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 34(1).

Yu, H., Glanzer, P. L., Johnson, B. R., Sriram, R., & Moore, B. (2018). Why college students cheat: A conceptual model of five factors. The Review of Higher Education, 41(4), 549-576.


Ying-Hsiu Liu

Ying-Hsiu Liu

Instructional Designer III

Ying-Hsiu has worked with individual faculty members in providing pedagogical and curricular design consultation; her interest areas are: active learning pedagogy (case-based method, case-based reasoning, problem-based learning, etc), knowledge application, computer supported collaborative learning, and authentic assessment.

Bryant Lazenby

Bryant Lazenby, M.Ed.

Instructional Designer III

Laz is a lifelong learner and technology lover who joined Missouri Online as an instructional designer in July 2021. He is a Level 2 Google Certified Educator with over 10 years of teaching experience in secondary and post-secondary education and is currently working on a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Lindenwood University where his research is in incorporating gamification strategies into the classroom. He was born and raised on a farm that has been in his family for over a century located northwest of Sedalia, Missouri, where he lives today. When he isn’t in front of his computer, he can generally be found reading or attending local painting classes.