The Fifth-Year Interim Report

Part III: The Fifth-Year Compliance Certification


4.8 Distance and Correspondence Education

The institution is in compliance with its program responsibilities under Title IV of the 1998 Higher Education Amendments. (In reviewing the institution's compliance with these program responsibilities, the Commission relies on documentation forwarded to it by the Secretary of Education.) (Applies only to those institutions receiving Title IV funding.)

Judgment of Compliance

Compliance

Narrative

Alcorn State University (ASU) is able to demonstrate that a student who takes an online course is the same student who is enrolled in the course and receives credit for the course through logging into Blackboard Learning Management System and Biometric Signature ID (BioSig-ID) Identity Authentication Software.

Students who are enrolled in an online course must log in to the Blackboard Learn Management System with a secure user name and password and sign into BioSig-ID with his/her passcode (usually 4 letters or numbers) on a drawing area that appears on the screen of whatever device they are using. After inputting their unique passcode, the software encodes the student’s unique pattern of length, angle, speed, height, number of strokes and stores this information in an encrypted database. Upon subsequent logins into the online course, if the patterns match, instructors and others with administrative access are able to confirm that the person who is registered for the course is the same person trying to access the course materials.  The user who successfully authenticates his/her biometric signature will be allowed to access the course. Access to the course will be denied if a person does not successfully replicate the originators unique biometric passocode.  Essentially, in a few seconds and with only 3-4ing characters, BioSig-ID can establish whether the person who registered for the course is the same person who is attempting access.

Another security feature that is provided with this software is continuous and randomized authentication. BioSig-ID software serves as a “gate or door” when the student registers for an online course; and, subsequently when he/she signs in for interactive discussions, actual coursework or any gradable event.  This eliminates the need for proctored examinations. In addition, to reduce the opportunity for working together and fraud, unexpected challenges can be placed at various points in the course delivery. Students will not know in advance when they will need to verify their identity. This serves to further reduce the opportunity to enlist the aid of someone else to complete course materials.   Overall, the process of random/unexpected identity challenges increases the level of assurance that the registered user is the same person who accesses course materials.  Finally, BioSig ID software provides an audit trail including the time and date stamp of user sign in, course/instructor name, from what city/state/country, IP address and multiple details about their activity.  The data details out the changes that develop over time and compares them to averages.  This analysis creates a flag for intervention that not only identifies potential cheating, but also assists in reducing potential financial aid fraud.

 

FR 4.8.2

Alcorn State University protects the privacy of all students by complying with FERPA laws. No additional or distinct protections are afforded to online students beyond FERPA compliance which is the university’s standard for all students. (FERPA screenshots)

 

FR 4.8.3

Alcorn State University does not charge distance education students any additional fees associated with verification of student identity. The published fee schedule is the same for all students regardless of delivery mode.