Information Technology

Policy for Verification of Student Identity in Distance Education

SCOPE

This policy applies to all credit-bearing distance learning courses and programs offered by Cedar Crest College, beginning with the application for admission and continuing through to a student's graduation, transfer, or withdrawal from study.

PURPOSE OF POLICY

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that Cedar Crest College operates in compliance with the provisions of the United States Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), Public Law 110-315 concerning the verification of student identity in distance learning. All credit-bearing courses and programs offered through distance learning methods must verify that the student who registers for a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives academic credit. One or more of the following methods would be used:

  • An individual secure login and password
  • Proctored examinations
  • Other technologies and practices approved by the Provost's Office that have been shown to be effective in verifying student identification.
  • Pedagogical and related practices that are effective in verifying student identity (faculty review, questioning students, etc.)

Secure Login and Password

Each student has his or her own assigned login ID and password to log into the learning management system.

Proctored Examinations

The College's Policy on Testing and Proctored Examinations should be used as a guiding reference for proctored examinations.

New or Emerging Technologies

Third party vendors that provide robust identity verification software services (e.g., services similar to those used in the financial sector) could be used as an option by the College.

Pedagogical and Related Practices

Online instructors have a responsibility to identify changes in student behavior that may indicate that academic work is not being produced by the registered student. Examples of such behavioral changes could include a sudden change in academic performance, changes in writing style, or odd statements by a student in online discussion or email. Such changes in behavior may be detected by using more than one kind of assessment type for a course's learning outcomes or asking students to share important ideas learned from referenced sources.

Privacy Protection

All methods of verifying student identity in distance learning must protect the privacy of student information. Students must be notified in writing at the time of registration or enrollment of any fees associated with the verification of student identity. Personally identifiable information collected by the College may be used, at the discretion of the institution, as the basis for identity verification. For instance, a student requesting that his or her learning system password be reset may be asked to provide two or more pieces of information for comparison with data on file, or to come to the IT Help Desk in person with a photo ID or verification.

RESPONSIBILITIES

All users of the college's learning management systems are responsible for maintaining the security of usernames, passwords, and any other access credentials assigned. Access passwords may not be shared or given to anyone other than the user to whom they were assigned for any reason.

Users are responsible for any and all uses of their account. Users are responsible for changing passwords periodically to maintain security. Users are held responsible for knowledge of the information contained within the most recent College Catalog as well as the Student Handbook. Failure to read College guidelines, requirements, and regulations will not exempt users from responsibility. Students are responsible for providing accurate and true information about themselves in any identity verification process.

Faculty teaching courses through distance education methods have the primary responsibility for ensuring that their courses comply with the provisions of this policy. Faculty are responsible for informing the Provost's Office of any new technologies being used to verify student identity, so that published information on student privacy can be maintained appropriately, and so that the College can coordinate resources and services efficiently. Because technology and personal accountability may not verify identity absolutely or ensure academic integrity completely, faculty are encouraged, when feasible and pedagogically sound, to design courses that employ assignments and evaluations unique to the course and that support academic integrity.

Deans, department chairs, graduate program directors, and other directors of academic units are responsible for ensuring that faculty are aware of this policy and comply with its provisions. Deans, department chairs, graduate program directors, and other academic directors are also responsible for ensuring that academic awards and degree programs within their units comply with the provisions of this policy.

The Provost's Office is responsible for ensuring college-wide compliance with the provisions of this policy and that deans, chairs, and directors are informed of any changes in a timely fashion.

The Provost's Office is responsible for publishing college-wide information on how identity verification processes protect student privacy. The Provost's Office is also responsible for coordinating and promoting efficient use of college resources and services, and for ensuring that college-level processes (e.g. admissions or registration) also remain in compliance with this policy.

The Student Financial Services Office is responsible to notify students at the time of registration of any projected additional student charges associated with verification of student identity.

COMPLIANCE

In accordance with the responsibilities outlined above, deans, department chairs, graduate program directors, and other directors of academic units are expected to ensure that all faculty and staff within their units remain in compliance with this policy. Cedar Crest College should have in place appropriate policies to promote the academic integrity of its online courses. Those policies should be widely disseminated throughout the College.

Training for Faculty and Students

The College should provide faculty with appropriate training to use pedagogical approaches and technology to promote academic integrity. Additionally, the College should provide information to students regarding not sharing passwords and being held accountable for academic integrity. Syllabi and orientations should include information for students to understand issues for each online course and the college as a whole.

FREQUENCY OF REVIEW AND UPDATE

This policy will be reviewed annually by the Provost's Office for continued alignment with the appropriate federal regulations and policies and revised as necessary.

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