Policy for Student Identity Verification in Distance Learning
Purpose and Scope
In compliance with the provisions of the United States Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008, Public Law 110-315, concerning the verification of student identity in distance learning, Southwestern Oklahoma State University has established and will periodically evaluate its process to confirm that a person who has accepted admission to SWOSU is the person who is completing the enrollment form, that a student taking an examination is the student who registered to take the examination and that the student who is registered for an online course is the same student who participates in, completes, and receives credit for the course.
This policy applies to all credit-bearing distance education courses or programs offered by Southwestern Oklahoma State University, beginning with the application for admission and continuing through to a student’s graduation, transfer, or withdrawal from study. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that Southwestern Oklahoma State University operates in compliance with the provisions of the United States Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) concerning the verification of student identity in distance education.
The HEOA requires that institutions offering distance education courses or programs have processes in place to ensure that the student registering for a course is the same student who participates in the course or receives course credit. The Act requires that institutions use one of the following three methods:
- A secure login and pass code;
- Proctored examinations; and
- New or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification.
Secure Login and Password
Each student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University is provided a username and password to access the Single-Sign on system at SWOSU. After logging into the system, students have secure access to email, along with university systems such as SWOSU’s learning management system.
By providing a username and password to the Single-Sign On system, SWOSU is providing security measures, via authentication, to ensure that accounts are managed more security across the University.
New students are provided the Single-Sign On username and password, after admission through the Southwestern Oklahoma State University’s Academic Records’s Office.
Students are responsible for providing their complete and true identity information in any identification verification process. It is against University policy for a user to give someone his or her password or to allow others to use his or her account.
The Southwestern Oklahoma State University uses Canvas as its learning management system. The Canvas system integrates with the University authentication services to ensure appropriate and secure student access to courses and other Student Information Systems. All users of the University’s learning management system are responsible for maintaining the security of their Single-Sign On user name and password, or any other access credentials as required. Attempting to discover another user's password or attempts to gain unauthorized access to another person's files or email is prohibited.
Personally identifiable information collected by the university may be used, at the discretion of the institution, as the basis for identity verification. For instance, a student requesting that their learning management 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 Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in person with a photo ID or verification.
All users of the University’s learning management system are responsible for maintaining the security of usernames, passwords, and other access credentials as required. An account is given to an individual for the exclusive use by that individual. Attempting to discover another user's password or attempts to gain unauthorized access to another person's files or mail is prohibited.
Access credentials may not be shared or given to anyone other than the user to whom they were assigned to for any reason. Users are responsible for any and all uses of their account. Users are responsible for all activity on their accounts. Users are responsible for changing passwords periodically to maintain security. Users are held responsible for knowledge of the information contained within the most recent University Catalog as well as the Student Handbook. Failure to read university guidelines, requirements and regulations will not exempt users from responsibility.
As technology and personal accountability are not absolute in determining a student’s identity, faculty members are encouraged to use technologies and to design courses that use assignments and evaluations that support academic integrity. Changes in student behavior such as sudden shifts in academic performance or changes in writing style or language used in discussion groups or email may indicate academic integrity problems. Instructors routinely should use a variety of assessment instruments. As best practices suggest, faculty should routinely ask students to share in appropriate ways important ideas learned from texts and references, require research projects and paper assignments to be submitted in steps, and/or use Turnitin.com.
SWOSU provides for Respondus LockDown BrowserTM, and Respondus MonitorTM for faculty to make use of for assessment purposes to verify student identity. Respondus LockDown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within online courses. Students are unable to print, copy, or access other websites and applications. Respondus MonitorTM is a companion application for Respondus LockDown BrowserTM that uses webcam and video technology to allow assessment sessions to be recorded. Ideal for non-proctored environments where online tests pose unique challenges.
Faculty teaching courses through distance education methods hold primary responsibility for ensuring that their individual courses comply with the provisions of this policy. Faculty are responsible for informing the Office of Academic Affairs and Provost of any new technologies being used to verify student identity, so that published information on student privacy can be maintained appropriately, and so that that the university 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 and directors of college-level units are responsible for ensuring that faculty are aware of this policy and comply with its provisions. Deans, chairs and directors are also responsible for ensuring that academic awards and degree programs within their units comply with the provisions of this policy.
At this time, there are no additional student fees associated with student verification. If any fees associated with the verification of student identity will be charged to students, they will be so indicated in the online catalog or on the “Tuition and Fees” website.
The Southwestern Oklahoma State University complies fully with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. 1232g. This act protects the privacy of student information in distance education by requiring, with certain limited exceptions, that the student's consent must be obtained before disclosing any personally identifiable information in the student's education records. Additional information on FERPA and student record access can be found online.
The Office of Academic Affairs and Provost is responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy and that deans, department chairs, and program coordinators are informed of any changes in the policy in a timely fashion. The Office of Academic Affairs is also responsible for ensuring that university-level processes remain in compliance with this policy (registrar, admissions, library, etc.).