Cadmus? Not on my campus!

What is Cadmus?

In the University’s words:

“Cadmus is an online web authoring environment (similar to Google Docs) that aims to address the problem of contract cheating by providing an authenticated, online authoring environment for individual written assessment. This environment includes: keystroke biometrics; multi-factor geolocation authentication; and the capture of unique data that is analysed automatically to highlight statistical outliers. Taken together, the system presents an opportunity for identified cases to be further investigated to determine whether the work was authentically constructed within Cadmus, and whether the submitted work was authored by the appropriate student.”

What does this mean for students?

You will have to complete your assignment within the Cadmus interface. While you type, your keystrokes (your typing pattern, rhythm and speed) and location (via your smartphone or email) will be collected and analysed. The intention is to ensure you are the author of your work. The reality is that the University will be collecting your personal data and limiting your ability to work in flexible ways.

Cadmus will place considerable limits on the way you work as a student while collecting your personal data.

It’s intrusive, it’s controlling, and it assumes all students are out to cheat.

Why does the University want to implement Cadmus?

Cadmus aims to address the problem of contract cheating, the process where a student employs someone else to produce an assessment that is submitted as their own work.

The mandatory implementation of the software would allow the University to further demonstrate its commitment to academic honesty but also to guard its reputation in a media landscape that has questioned the tertiary sector’s ability to guarantee the integrity of its degrees. Cadmus is also being developed by University of Melbourne alumni as part of the University of Melbourne’s startup Accelerator Program. The University may enjoy acclaim from developing and selling such software that requires less financial commitment than a well-resourced academic cohort.

The reasons for implementing Cadmus are not all negative. However, if the University chooses this path, one that would have such a considerable effect on students and how they study and their future, then it is of utmost important that the University engage authentically with students and student representative during this process.

What’s happened so far?

The University has been looking to implement Cadmus since 2016. They conducted a series of trials throughout 2016 and 2017 to test the software’s functionality.

Now that the trials are complete, the University are preparing to implement a Cadmus pilot in Semester 1 2018 across a range of subjects.

What are the issues with Cadmus?

Since UMSU was made aware of Cadmus, we have been fighting to ensure that it will not disadvantage students. Up until now, the University consistently failed to engage in broad consultation with students beyond a select few, and have failed to engage with key issues and concerns.

Freedom to work in a way that suits you

Being monitored while you work is extraordinarily intrusive. Cadmus could mark your assignment as deviating from the norm if you copy & paste a lot when editing or transcribe from another word processor or hand-written notes. This means you will be investigated for potential academic misconduct by the University. If this happens, the burden is on you to prove you did not cheat.

UMSU does not believe that academic integrity should come at the expense of your practical freedom. We believe that much more needs to be done to ensure you are not unduly restricted in how you can study.

Personal data

Cadmus will be tracking data such as how many words you type and at what speed, how many deletions you make, how many sessions it takes for you to complete your work and when those occur, and where you are when you access Cadmus.

We don’t know how the data collected by Cadmus will be used, who will have access to it or for how long it will be retained.  There is no policy to regulate how much information tutors will have access to about your study habits and whether they will use this data to inform their marking of your work. There is also no policy to ensure that data will only be used for purposes necessary for the completion of a subject.

UMSU believes that data needs to be collected and stored ethically, that any data collection should only occur if students are informed of and consent to it, and that data cannot be used for any purpose other than what’s required for the completion of a subject.

Lack of equity

Accessibility issues have not been meaningfully addressed in the past Cadmus trials.

  • Currently Cadmus requires you to go through online verification every time you log in, disadvantaging students who do not have regular internet access.
  • There is no clear compatibility between Cadmus and assistive technologies (screen readers, specialised keyboards, etc). Assistive technologies and Cadmus will be taken on a case-by-case basis, which places significant burden on students.
  • There has been no work done to incorporate Cadmus with special consideration or academic adjustment policies, meaning that students who require adjustments will be left on their own to seek help on a case by case basis.

UMSU believes the only way to ensure students are not disadvantaged is to account for students with disabilities from the very start of the development process.

UMSU believes Cadmus cannot be implemented in its current state.

Join UMSU in saying: Cadmus? Not on my campus!

Sign our petition to call upon Margaret Shiel, the Provost of the University of Melbourne, to reconsider the decision to implement a Cadmus pilot in Semester 1 2018: www.actionnetwork.org/petitions/cadmus 

Get involved in the campaign – sign up to help out here: https://goo.gl/forms/3uneRLNojrRwfiKq1 

And if you’d like to get in contact with us directly, please don’t hesitate to email Yan (UMSU President) at president@union.unimelb.edu.au or Sinead (Education Public Officer) at educationpublic@union.unimelb.edu.au.