Verification of Identity
JSU’s procedures 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 are 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 and procedures followed by Undergraduate Admissions, Graduate Studies Admissions, and International Admissions, 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 a remote online proctoring solution and guidance through the Online@JSU web site to help instructors choose appropriate configurations. 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 are available to the user, 6) various options for live monitoring by a remote online proctor, instructor review of proctoring session after the fact, proctor 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 currently supported official remote online proctoring solution is Honorlock (Student tutorial; Faculty tutorial) and is deployed in a university-pay arrangement. 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 of students by requiring a government-issued photo ID, and must adhere to any other requirements stated by the instructor. Certain programs have opted to use alternative remote proctoring solutions due to their assessment methods. While JSU covers the cost of Honorlock proctoring, students may be responsible for costs associated with traditional face-to-face proctors and other remote online proctoring solutions. This is made clear in the Guide for Online Students web page under Exams and Proctoring and on the Tuition and Fees web page.
(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 an 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 recorded visual images of a student, which may include presenting a valid photo ID at various points of interaction with instructors which may be compared to official ID's and photos on file in university records. 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 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.
(4) pedagogical and related practices
Online instructors have a responsibility to identify changes in students. Examples of changes could be a sudden change in academic performance, a change in writing style, or odd statements by students in discussions or email. Methods of detection may include using more than one kind of assessment type and asking students to share important ideas learned from references.
All users of the university’s learning management systems are responsible for maintaining the security of usernames, passwords and any other access credentials assigned. All have completed university-provided FERPA training.
Users are responsible for any and all uses of their university accounts. Users are responsible for 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 these procedures. Course syllabi should list any planned uses of technology or other methods geared toward exam proctoring and/or identity verification, along with any additional cost to students for these solutions.
School deans and department chairs are responsible for ensuring that faculty are aware of these procedures and comply with its provisions. School deans and department chairs are also responsible for ensuring that academic awards and degree programs within their units comply with the provisions of these procedures.
The Office of Academic Affairs is responsible for ensuring university-wide compliance with the provisions of these procedures and that deans and directors are informed of any changes in a timely fashion.
The University is responsible for notifying students at the time of registration of any projected additional charges associated with verification of student identity.
Training for Faculty and Students
The university provides faculty with appropriate training to use pedagogical approaches and technology to promote academic integrity. Additionally, the university provides information to students regarding not sharing passwords and being held accountable for academic integrity. Syllabi and orientations should include information for students to understand issues for each online course and the university as a whole.
As transitions to new technology and service solutions are completed, sources of information are updated and JSU students, faculty, and staff are informed.
Policies and procedures 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 and procedures are related specifically to distance education, the Online@JSU office works in conjunction with the Provost to ensure that updates are included and published.