AACAF 103


NUMBER: AACAF 103

SECTION: Academic Affairs

SUBJECT: Verification of Student Identity in Distance-delivered Courses and Programs

DATE: July 1, 2015

Authorized by: Dr. Jeff Priest, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Issued by: Dr. Lloyd A. Dawe, SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison 

I. POLICY

A. Scope This policy applies to all credit-bearing distance learning courses and programs offered by the University of South Carolina Aiken from matriculation through to a student’s graduation, transfer, or withdrawal from study.

B. Purpose The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the University of South Carolina Aiken operates in compliance with the provisions of the United States Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), Public Law 110-315 concerning the verification of student identity in distance learning as well as relevant Standards and Requirements specified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges.

C. Policy Statement

1. Personnel at the University of South Carolina Aiken must verify that the student who registers in a credit-bearing course or program offered through distance delivery is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives academic credit. One or more of the following methods may be used:

i. An individual secure login and password (i.e. username and password);

ii. Proctored examinations;

iii. Other technologies and practices approved by the Office of Academic Affairs that have been shown to be effective in verifying student identification;

iv. Pedagogical and related practices that are effective in verifying student identity (e.g., faculty review, questioning students, etc.…);

v. Completion of the learning management system profile to include a current picture so that the LMS Roster tool will display the student’s picture and subsequent use of a synchronous (non-recorded) method (e.g., Adobe Connect) that will require students to have access to a webcam to display their face and show an official current picture ID.

2. All methods of verifying student identity in distance education classes must protect the privacy of student information. Students must be notified in writing at the time of registration or enrollment of any fees associated with the verification of student identity.

II. PROCEDURE

A. Procedures to identify students in courses and programs offered through distance delivery

1. Secure Login and Password. Each student will be assigned a unique username and password to log into learning management systems. Personally identifiable information collected by the university may be used, at the discretion of the institution, as the basis for identity verification.

2. Proctored Examinations. Faculty may elect to proctor an examination in accordance with the Final Examination Policy specified in the Faculty Manual.

3. New or Emerging Technologies. Third party vendors that provide robust identity verification software services may only be used as an option upon review and approval by the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

4. Pedagogical and Related Practices. Online instructors have a responsibility to notice and investigate changes in students’ submissions. Examples of changes could be a sudden change in academic performance, change in writing style, as well as odd statements by students in discussions or emails. 

B. Privacy Assurance and Responsibilities

All users of the university’s learning management systems are responsible for maintaining the security of usernames, passwords and any other access credentials assigned. Usernames and passwords used to enter the system are secure credentials. Access passwords may not be shared or given to anyone other than the user to whom they were assigned for any reason.

Users are responsible 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. Students are responsible for providing accurate and true information about themselves in any identity verification process.

Faculty teaching courses through distance education methods have the primary responsibility for ensuring that their courses comply with the provisions of this policy. Faculty are responsible for informing and seeking approval from the Office of Academic Affairs for any new technologies that they wish to use to verify student identity, so that published information on student privacy can be maintained appropriately, and so 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 chairs are responsible for ensuring that faculty are aware of this policy and comply with its provisions. Deans and chairs are also responsible for ensuring that online courses and degree programs within their units comply with the provisions of this policy.

The Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for ensuring university-wide compliance with the provisions of this policy and that deans and chairs are informed of any changes in a timely fashion. The Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for publishing university-wide information on how identity verification processes protect student privacy. The Office of Academic Affairs is also responsible for coordinating and promoting efficient use of university resources and services, and for ensuring that university level processes (e.g., admissions or registration) remain in compliance with this policy.

The Office of the Registrar is responsible to notify students at the time of registration of any projected additional student charges associated with verification of student identity in online courses.

C. Training for Faculty and Students

The university should provide faculty with appropriate training to use pedagogical approaches and technology to promote academic integrity. Additionally, the university should provide information to students regarding not sharing passwords and being held accountable for academic integrity. Syllabi for classes offered online should include information for students regarding the importance of academic integrity and restrictions regarding sharing of passwords and usernames.

III. Related Policies

System Policy ACAF 3.03: Handling of Student Records

System Policy ACAF 3.06: Establishing and Changing a Student’s Official Name

System Policy IT 3.00: Information Security

System Policy IT 1.06: Acceptable Use of Information Technology

System Policy UNIV 1.50: Data Access

University Policy AENR 100: Identification cards

University Policy AIT 105: Access to Computer Labs/Classrooms