How can you be sure someone has actually gained the educational qualifications he or she claims to possess? That is a question that is a source of great concern to providers of distance learning courses as they strive to tackle security issues.
Many higher education organizations are now exploring sophisticated measures, including facial recognition software and complex pattern matching, to ensure it is the correct, enrolled student who is participating in online tests or completing assignments.
Sound thorough? Yes. Unfortunately, this practice was born out of necessity—a result of unscrupulous and dishonest people who are paying others to take their place during key moments in their distance learning education and, therefore, helping to unfairly gain qualifications.
This is not the only security concern that has emerged due to the growth in online distance learning courses. For example, another scenario could be personal data being stolen due to key logging—especially as remote students often use shared computers.
Obviously, the protection of data and personal information is a burning issue in distance education, and the students themselves have a large part to play—starting with when they consider their individual rights and what permissions they should be able to give or withhold.
To some extent, the problems can be traced to the accelerated development of learning technology and the similarity it often has to social media channels, which have become part of students’ day-to-day lives. But what about the security of a sensitive conversation with a virtual tutor? Or personal information, perhaps including the student’s location, which is entered into an app? And where is the data kept and for how long?
Fortunately, steps are being taken to answer these questions and ensure the students and their data is protected. For the latest in student authentication, one provider of assessment and certification products and services uses a program that differentiates individuals based on their keystroke patterns and another, BioSig ID bases it on how they use their mouse. Another solution supplier observes the test taker via a webcam and watches his or her screen in real time.
There is little doubt we will see more variations on these options to combat the test cheaters and help ensure that confidence is not lost when test-taking students attempt to prove they are who they say they are—and when they present their qualifications to the world later on.
Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.