Cadmus Continues

13 October 2017

The University is still considering implementing academic integrity software Cadmus despite claims from students that the software is invasive and faulty.

Phase two of the Cadmus trial was conducted in Semester 1 this year, and aimed to test Cadmus’s reliability, usability and effectiveness in identifying “contract cheating”—a form of cheating where students purchase assignments from third parties.

Cadmus targets cheating by requiring students to write their assignments in its online interface. The program does this by using location detection and keystroke biometrics, which monitor typing speed, pattern and rhythm.

Tilli Franks was one student who was part of the Cadmus trial in her class, ‘Magic, Reason, New Worlds 1450-1750’.

“[The program] crashed and I lost my whole essay,” she said.

“It glitched and accidentally deleted my work. The mechanism that is supposed to continually save it hadn’t been working.”

Student, Alexander Shermon, who took trial subject ‘Philosophy: The Ethics of Capitalism’, also found that the cloud-saving didn’t work at one point.

“The notes tab is just a pain to access and I can hardly see it being used, reference and footnote management isn’t as streamlined as it is in Word or other applications, [and] the Cadmus app on my phone drained the battery, took a long time to load, and sometimes required multiple attempts to work properly.”

UMSU is claiming that the University “intends to implement a pilot of Cadmus from Semester 1, 2018.” University Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Provost Richard James, however, told Farrago that “no final decision has been made”.

An online petition made by the University of Melbourne Student Union UMSU to “convince the University to abandon Cadmus” has so far attracted over 2,000 signatures.

UMSU President Yan Zhuang told Farrago that in its current form, the software is “inequitable and invasive, and the University has given [the Union] little indication that they are putting students’ interests first in their decision-making process.”

“While some students found the software to be okay, the majority of them had negative experiences,” she said.

James disagreed, and said that based on information gathered from surveys, students and staff from the participating subjects were mostly happy with Cadmus.

“Approximately two-thirds (66.3%) of the students who responded to the survey agreed or strongly agreed that the system’s login process was easy to use, and 59% agreed or strongly agreed that the text-editor was easy to use,” he said.

He said students identified the auto-save function as one of the most positive features of Cadmus.

One of UMSU’s concerns is that, should the system flag a student’s writing for potential academic misconduct, “the burden is on you to prove you did not cheat.”

When asked if this was the case, James said that the University had not yet determined what the University policy surrounding this would be.

UMSU is also wary of the software’s potential to infringe students’ privacy by collecting their data. “There has been no discussion of how data will be collected, how long it will be kept for, and who will have access to it,” Zhuang said.

Other concerns include limiting students’ ability to work flexibly, and requiring students to be connected to the internet in order to log in to Cadmus and work on their assignments.

Regarding the UMSU campaign, James told Farrago that “the University is aware of the concerns of some students regarding Cadmus.”

“The University committed to fulfilling its obligations in relation to academic integrity and will continue to do so in consultation with students,” he said.

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