Monday, November 17, 2008

AACIS Conference 2008: Alien-Robot-Authentication Device Not Needed.

I was glad to be able to present at the American Association of Collegiate Independent Study 2008 in St. Louis, MO hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
A session that I was most interested in attending was Troy University's Student Authentication System. I saw the beast up-close.

This little guy is plugged into a computer that a student is using for an online course and authenticates the student by scanning their thumbprint and then taking a 360 degree video or photo every few seconds while a student is taking a test to make sure it is indeed the correct student and that they are not cheating.
Some folks from MN really wanted me to confront the problems that this system brings up but
presenter Deb Gearhardt conceded and pointed most of them on my list before I had a chance.
1. Student authentication can be an issue in a face-to-face course and no intense method like the alien-robot-device above is used. the presenter shared this video.

2. Who will review all the photos and videos that the alien-robot-authentication device gathers from all tests by all students? Do faculty have time for this? No. Do they review all photos and videos? No.
3. The most important area I did speak out during the presentation was clarifying the info and language in the Higher Ed Act about this issue. Everywhere I go folks say a device like this is now required by law-not true. Thanks to Barry Dahl for his clear publication on this issue and the work done by the Instructional Learning Council Board to get clarification language into the bill.
See detailed language here, Distance Education Authentication- Just the Facts by Barry Dahl
4. The bill language also makes an important statement about student privacy: "The Conferees do not intend that institutions use or rely on any technology that interferes with the privacy of the student..." Specific examples were shared during the presentation that are violations of student privacy and this technology provides no way to protect privacy.
5. An additional cost of 150 dollars is passed on to the student for authentication device, which can only be used on ONE computer.

Affirmation: Alien-robot-authentication device is not needed.