Verification of identity

JSU’s Policy for Verification of Distance Student Identity is followed to ensure compliance with appropriate government regulations.  Jacksonville State University (JSU) takes many steps to ensure that the online student verification process in place at the University serves to establish that the student taking the “course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program of study and receives the appropriate credit by verifying the identity of the student.” JSU believes that students should perform with integrity and honesty in the learning environment. 

JSU, as a student learning-centered university, believes that there should be flexibility in the learning process. A variety of evaluation methods is therefore encouraged throughout the student’s program. Projects, papers, and other evaluation techniques may replace or supplement more traditional testing methods. It is the responsibility of the academic department or college to determine the evaluation process and the proctoring requirements for the individual program. 

All online students are admitted to the University in the same manner as traditional students.  Once the student is cleared for admission, he or she is entered into the Banner Student Information System. Only students entered into the Banner System can access the University’s registration system, campus portal, email system, learning management system, and other university systems.  In addition to steps taken for all students, such as those mentioned above as well as described in the attached Undergraduate Admission, Graduate Studies Admission, and International Admission documents, the methods below are utilized for students taking online courses.  These are also available for students taking traditional and blended courses.

(1) secure login credentials to the Canvas learning management systems (LMS)
JSU uses Canvas as the learning management system. Canvas requires authentication using a secure login and password.

(2) proctored examinations
Proctoring of exams is used when deemed essential to program integrity. Decisions regarding proctoring are made at the school or academic department level. Online@JSU, the hub of online learning at JSU, currently provides remote online proctoring solutions and guidance to help instructors choose an appropriate solution. Information about these solutions is provided to students and instructors on the Online@JSU web site.  JSU’s chosen online remote proctoring solution provides the following technology and features:  1)  students are authenticated into the proctoring service though the Canvas LMS,  2) a user-provided web cam keeps the user visible during the entire exam session, which is recorded, 3) the user’s computer screen is recorded during the entire exam session, 4) user authentication requiring a government issued photo ID before exam can be opened, 5) environment scan using web cam to ensure no one else is in the testing room and no unauthorized tools or information is available to the user, 6) various options for live monitoring by a remote online proctor and/or the instructor, review of proctoring session after the fact, flagging of questionable activity, a locked down testing environment which prevents users from exploring computer resources outside of the test itself or printing/capturing test questions, 7) a variety of other options for test security and integrity.  The current remote online proctoring solution is Honorlock (Student tutorialFaculty tutorial).   Also under consideration is a university-pay model, which differs from the current student-pay model.  In addition, traditional face-to-face proctors can be used as an alternative in unique situations, but the instructor must approve the selected proctor, proctors must verify identity using a government issued photo ID and adhere to any other requirements stated by the instructor.

 (3) other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification
JSU licenses a variety of other tools which may be used in conjunction with the LMS.  Many of these may enhance identification practices. The Canvas LMS provides tools such as discussion forums (identifies students by name), and assignment submission tool (identifies students by name), the Kaltura video platform, integrated with Canvas, which provides identification of the user creating and/or sharing content, and of course provides opportunities for live or recorded visual images of a student, which may include presenting a valid photo ID at various points of interaction with instructors. JSU licenses Microsoft Office 365 enterprise software (O365).  Documents created in various O365 productivity software, such as Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc., will identify the author of those documents.  Also in O365, Teams, and other collaboration software provide both identification and opportunities for live or recorded visual images of students, which can be used to compare to official photos or photo ID’s on record or provided by a student during interaction.  OneDrive, another O365 tool, also provides identity information when files are shared.  Outlook, another component of O365, is of course the University’s email software.  Students are required to use Outlook (known as GEM 365) when sending/receiving emails for any University-related purpose, which further enhances identification efforts.  All O365 components require secure credentials for authenticated access and are all integrated with one another.

Information about exams and proctoring is located in the Guide for Online Students, which is located on the Online@JSU web site under Exams and Proctoring.

As transitions to new technology and service solutions are completed, sources of information are updated and JSU students, faculty, and staff are informed.

Policies are reviewed and revised as needs are identified. Revisions might be the result of University, State of Alabama, or federal changes or mandates. When policies are related specifically to distance education, the Online@JSU office works in conjunction with the Provost to ensure that updates are included and published.