10.6 DISTANCE AND CORRESPONDENCE EDUCATION
An institution that offers distance or correspondence education:
a) ensures that the student who registers in a distance or correspondence education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the credit.
b) has a written procedure for protecting the privacy of students enrolled in distance and correspondence education courses or programs.
c) ensures that students are notified in writing at the time of registration or enrollment of any projected additional student charges associated with verification of student identity.
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(a) Ensuring that the Student who Registers in a Distance Education Course or Program is the Same Student who Participates in and Completes and Receives the Credit
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) ensures that the student who registers in a distance or correspondence education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the credit.
The Distance Education Policy, Section II-1 requires the Distance Education office, University Registrar and individual instructors to “ensure that the student who registers in a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the credit by verifying the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework.” This is accomplished by utilizing a secure login and password code, unique registration personal identification numbers (PINs) each term and proctored examinations. The Office of Distance Education and Extended Learning (DEEL) is charged with periodically reviewing processes and other tools that might be effective for verifying student identification. In this regard, DEEL works closely with the Division of Information Technology.
Students are assigned a unique username and password when they are accepted by N.C. A&T. These are used to identify the students when they log into the university’s Blackboard Learn, its learning management system (LMS). Faculty are required to use Blackboard Learn for all online classes. This requirement is posted in the N.C. A&T Online Faculty FAQs page, which reads, “all online courses must be delivered using Blackboard Learn, which is the official LMS for the University.” It is also posted on the N.C. A&T Online Course Delivery page, which states that “online courses must be delivered by using Blackboard Learn, which is the official LMS for the University.” During Spring 2018 semester, the Provost sent a memorandum to all faculty encouraging wider use of Blackboard Learn to support all university courses, but it is required for all online courses.
Students are assigned a unique Banner ID and PIN. These are used to identify students when they log into the university’s Banner Self Service system to register for classes. In addition, students are assigned a second PIN each semester which must be supplied once at the beginning of the registration process. Students obtain the second PIN from their advisors, which provides another opportunity to confirm their identity.
N.C. A&T uses the combination of username and password, or Banner ID and PIN to verify the identity of students. The Acceptable Use Policy requires faculty and students take steps to prevent others from gaining access to their accounts and forbids them from sharing their password with others. A link to this information is displayed on the Blackboard Learn login page. The Student Code of Conduct forbids the forgery, alteration or misuse of university documents, records or identification cards, and furnishing false information to the university with intent to deceive or mislead.
Faculty also use a variety of strategies to ensure that students who are registered in courses complete the assigned work in Blackboard. These include video submission of work, workgroups, synchronous discussions, frequent instructor/student emails, and face-to-face video conferencing. Faculty use these interactions to verify the identity of students and ensure they are submitting their own work. Blackboard Learn provides several additional features such as algorithmic generation of test and homework items, time limits for tests, automatic shuffling of questions and responses, limitations on student access to tests, test item presentation options, limitations on the number of test attempts, time delays in subsequent test attempts, and activity logs that record timestamps and duration of student activity. These features help to limit the opportunity for students to obtain outside assistance. The Office of Instructional Technology Training and Development (ITTD) provides training to faculty on these and other technologies. A list of current training opportunities is posted on the ITTD Training website].
In addition, faculty have the option to use the Respondus LockDown Browser to limit access to the Internet during tests and may use the Respondus Monitor to capture audio and video recordings of students during tests. The Respondus LockDown Browser is a custom browser application that locks down the testing environment within a learning management system. Features prevent cheating during online exams by blocking the ability to copy, print, access other applications, or visit other websites during an online exam. During testing, the menu and toolbar options are removed, except for Back, Forward, Refresh and Stop. The LockDown Browser will not allow a test to be exited until the student submits it for grading. Respondus Monitor builds upon the power of the LockDown Browser, and uses a student’s webcam and industry-leading video analytics to prevent cheating during non-proctored exams. Respondus Monitor records and analyzes student testing sessions and flags and ranks suspicious behaviors.
(b) Written Procedure for Protecting the Privacy of Students Enrolled in Distance Education Courses or Programs.
The Distance Education Policy requires that the Distance Education Office, University Registrar and individual instructors “protect the privacy of students enrolled in distance education courses or programs.”
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended (FERPA) policy requires compliance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) including protecting the privacy of student records. This policy applies to both on-campus and distance learning courses. The Office of the Registrar provides information relating to FERPA compliance.
Blackboard Learn protects student privacy by requiring students to authenticate with a unique username and password before accessing course materials. This authentication requirement ensures that each student can access only his or her own assignment submissions and grades. Blackboard Learn uses Active Directory usernames and passwords.
Active Directory usernames and passwords are protected through the following measures: limiting administrative access to the domain, hardening domain controllers, applying updates and patches in a timely fashion, as well as additional security measures to protect the domain servers. N.C. A&T’s Information Security Policy includes continual improvements in security.
Banner Self Service protects student privacy by requiring students to authenticate with a unique Banner ID and PIN before accessing academic records or registering for classes. PINs are stored with the Banner database. Banner is secured by limiting administrative access to the application, the database, and associated servers; hardening the database and servers; applying updates and patches in a timely fashion; and, additional security measures to protect the domain servers.
In addition, the Acceptable Use Policy requires faculty and students to take steps to prevent others from gaining access to their accounts and forbids them from sharing their password with others. The Acceptable Use Policy also requires that users follow applicable laws and policies when accessing data and forbids them from disclosing data or accessing data for which they have not been explicitly authorized.
(c) N.C. A&T Ensures that Students are Notified in Writing at the Time of Registration or Enrollment of any Projected Additional Student Charges Associated with Verification of Student Identity.
N.C. A&T does not charge any fee associated with verification of student identity. The university does charge a Distance Learning access fee, which is used to cover the costs of distance education student IDs that are mailed to students. Distance Learning fees are listed with other student fees on the Treasurer’s Office web site. They are also listed at A&T Online, specifically for distance learners.
2. Statement on Using Blackboard Learn (Online Faculty FAQs)
3. Provost’s Memo re Using Blackboard Learn
5. Student Conduct Code—Forgery . . .
7. Office of Instructional Technology Training and Development (ITTD) Training for DE Instructors and others
8. Office of the Registrar—FERPA Policy
9. Information Security Policy
10. Tuition and Fees—Treasurer’s Office
11. Distance Education Tuition and Fees—DE Website