Student Authentication and Online Classes
Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008
In the summer of 2008, the Congress passed legislation that includes language with
implication for online classes. The implementation of this law is being taken seriously
by accrediting agencies. The key issue is knowing that the student who is doing the
work in an online class is the student who is getting credit for doing the work in
the online class. Although the language of the conference committee that drafted
the compromise legislation is clear that using an authentication system with a student
login, such as Blackboard, is sufficient to meet the spirit and letter of the law,
this checklist below is an opportunity for faculty to reflect on other ways to ensure
that the students who are getting credit for a class are, indeed, the students who
are doing the work in the class. The statewide Academic Senate has published articles
warning of interpreting the law too narrowly at the same time that faculty can embrace
the opportunity to reflect on the pedagogy (andragogy) of online learning.
Here are some ways that online faculty can help ensure that the students who are doing
the work are the students getting credit for the class.
__Password secured (college and/or district controlled) Course Management Systems
(e.g. Canvas or Blackboard)
__Internal, instructor controlled password protection for exams
__Techniques to limit cheating on exams (i.e. randomized questions, multiple questions
from pools, time limits on exams, limited availability of exams...)
__Extensive writing tasks throughout the semester
__Revision of writing tasks throughout the semester
__“Plagiarism training” for students
__“Plagiarism certificate” for students
__“Ethics training” for students
__“Ethics certificate” for students
__Requiring students to use Turitin
__Informal checking for plagiarism
There may be many other ways to ensure that students who are getting credit in an
online class are actually the students who are doing the work. Look for professional
development opportunities for you to share your practices.
More information about student authentication can be found at WCET.