WHO’S REALLY BEHIND THOSE COMPUTER SCREENS? STUDENT AUTHENTICATION IN ONLINE LEARNING

P. Brock

Pace University (UNITED STATES)
Online Learning opportunities are proliferating; however, so are methods for academic dishonesty. While distance learning has many benefits: more access to higher education, more course and program certification and diploma choices; more flexible time-shifting to meet lifestyle needs and time zone differences, distant learning has more opportunities for academic dishonesty. Instructors may never communicate face-to-face with their online students face-to-face, but must rely upon students’ identities through words on a screen. This solely text-based profile can be problematic. So, the question is: who’s really behind those computer screens? Ideally, most students are eager learners who appreciate and require educational settings online. They earnestly read all of the required materials and carefully write all of the demanding papers and successfully complete all of the online tests and exams, but unfortunately, some students are not who they seem to be: they are, in fact, digital shills, who do the work and take the tests. A proliferating industry are “shills-for-hire.” These self-profiting shills need to be eradicated. So, how can educators authenticate who the course-registered students really are? Student authentication is essential. This presentation will provide advice to minimize this problem through both low-tech and high-tech measures for verification, including suggestions for more effective student registration methods, effective course designs and the use of new software products and packages.