Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Higher Ed or Big Brother

The Technology Classroom Building at PCC SlyvaniaImage via Wikipedia
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a story on pending legislation that could have some really frightening implications for colleges and universities, students and our distance education programs. New Systems Keep a Close Eye on Online Students at Home
Tucked away in a 1,200-page bill now in Congress is a small paragraph that could lead distance-education institutions to require spy cameras in their students' homes.

It sounds Orwellian, but the paragraph — part of legislation renewing the Higher Education Act — is all but assured of becoming law by the fall. No one in Congress objects to it.

The paragraph is actually about clamping down on cheating. It says that an institution that offers an online program must prove that an enrolled student is the same person who does the work.
The result?
[Colleges are authenticating] online test takers by reading their fingerprints, watching them via Web cameras, or recording their keystrokes.
[Requiring students to] travel to distant locations so a proctor can watch them take exams on paper.
For many colleges, the fear is that solutions developed and managed by third-party vendors will collect students' images, fingerprints, and even images from inside their homes, ultimately jeopardizing our students' privacy.
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1 comment:

Mark Viquesney said...

Of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges, Rio Salado is 90% a distance learning school. Their solution has always been to have students take a proctered exam. If they are in another state, country, or some place far from the college, the school finds another college for the student to take the exam at. The students look at it as a small price to pay for the convience of taking the course online (according to school surveys). If the student was worried about privacy, then they would unplug the camera when they were not doing the course and not leave it on.


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