Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Testing Student Verification with Webcams

The importance of making sure that the student who signed up for an online class is actually the one taking it has been magnified by the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs).  Solutions range from keystroke software to webcams to programs that shut down web browsers during an exam.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology started using webcams with the MITx XSeries sequences for some of its courses that began this fall and plans to expand the program next year. It takes between six months to two years to complete each of the sequences, which use content from two to four traditional classroom courses. MIT is testing webcam photos of students to confirm their identity for the sequences. edX is also testing the ID-verification process with three of its MOOCs from MIT and the University of California at Berkeley.

While there is a cost to using webcam verification, it should add just a few hundred dollars to the cost, according to a report in eCampus News. A free “Honor Code Certificate of Achievement” option is also available to students, but credit is not.

“This is all an experiment,” said Steve Carson, external relations director at MIT OpenCourseWare. “We’re trying different things and looking at what learners are interested in—what kinds of certificates do they want, what kind of programs are they pursuing.”

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