Parry, M. (2009) Online Educators Won’t Have to Spy on Students, New Rules Say Chronicle of Higher Education June 3

My first reaction to this headline was that this was another case of American paranoia over security, but in fact, it addresses a really important issue in distance education: how do you know the student being assessed is the actual person, and not her cat? The article discusses a number of solutions offered by commercial providers.

Some jurisdictions – such as Alberta in Canada – are moving to a single ID for students that will be used for life and will follow them throughout their different educational institutions. With this ID will come authentication privileges, depending on whether they have paid their fees, been accepted into a program, etc., that will then provide them with access to different services – including, presumably, online assessment. Although the advantages are obvious for online and distance education students, there are also dangers as well, such as increased government tracking of individuals, lack of privacy, and increased costs as commercial organizations provide ‘automated’ solutions.

I’d like to hear your views on the potential benefits or disadvantages of a single ID, single log-in, etc., and I’d also like to know if any research that has been done on its implementation in post-secondary education, in particular any unintended consequences.


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