Thursday, July 24, 2008

Somewhere, we took a wrong turn

Via /. and from the Chronicle of Higher Education's free section:

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.

Already, the language is spurring some colleges to try technologies that authenticate online test takers by reading their fingerprints, watching them via Web cameras, or recording their keystrokes.

Fuck that noise. Not only is this a ridiculous invasion of privacy (baaaaaaa), but it's unnecessary:

"It's going to reduce access," says John F. Ebersole, president of Excelsior College, an online institution based in Albany, N.Y. "It's going to increase costs."


"We're feeling a little picked on," says Lori McNabb, assistant director of student and faculty services at the UT TeleCampus, the online arm of the University of Texas system.

She says there's no evidence that cheating or fraud happens more often with its students than with students in face-to-face classes.


She and others say online instructors rely more on discussions, writing assignments, quizzes, group work, and "capstone" projects to judge their students' performance, and less on big exams. Tests, when they are administered, are often randomized so students in the same class get different questions, which must be answered quickly, making it difficult for those unfamiliar with the material to take tests for students. Instructors become familiar with students' writing styles so they can spot fraudulent work, officials add.


Anonymous said...

Next thing you know they will want to send the school resource officer to search your home for weapons.... Oh, wait! They already try to do that- at least in Lebanon.

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