It is still an important topic in education. Even more so, in distance education. The Ohio State University is aware that many departments have expressed concern about moving their courses and programs online. An instructor has always feared that academic dishonesty could result from students not being taught and assessed in a traditional classroom. The best teaching practices and tools are available to support academic integrity. Ohio State knew that academic dishonesty could be eliminated by removing the fear associated with online courses. The development of an academic integrity framework was needed, best practices for teaching were to be shared, and technology-based proctoring needed to ensure that academic integrity was not a barrier but a strength.
The law requires academic integrity to be maintained. Under the Higher Education Reauthorization Act of (2008) institutions are required to verify a student’s ID through: a secured login and passcode, proctored exam; and new or additional identification technologies that are efficient in verifying student identity (602.17.2009). It also states that institutions shall use processes to protect student privacy and inform students of any future charges related to the verification of student ID at time of enrollment or registration.” (602.17, 2009).
The education world has tried many ways to comply with these mandates. There are three common methods. The first is to not take credit bearing courses online. These universities depend heavily on their inperson offerings. A second rule of thumb is that credit-bearing courses should be offered online. However, assessments must be administered in person. These universities often offer an on-campus option along with a nationwide or global partnership that allows students to take assessments at a nominal cost. The third option is what the legislation addresses: to offer credit bearing courses online, with the aid of technology to ensure academic integrity.
In recent years technology has made tremendous strides towards protecting academic integrity. There are two main types today of technology on the market. The first technology is that which must be set up and connects remotely to a computer of a student. The student’s internetcam and microphone are used by the proctor for remote monitoring of an assessment. The second is a computer-algorithm-based technology that is usually available on demand. Another example is the student’s internetcam and microphone. In this instance, the computer algorithm will look for misconduct. For example, consistent eye movement towards a set note, talking with another person, using a second monitor to check for answers, or even eye movement. Other options include recording the testing session in real time and then having an actual proctor review it. Or, having a computer software program record the session then have a live proctor review it.
This technology landscape and the law mandate led to the birth of the Ohio State Academic Integrity Initiative. The initiative was managed by the Ohio State Office of Distance Education and eLearning, and is now headed by the ODEE Distance Education team.
Selecting the right tool
Initiative conversations with administrators and instructors on campus indicated that they desired an easy-to-use proctoring tool. Apart from the convenience of using an automated algorithm-based tool on demand, many expressed privacy concerns over being able connect proctors with students at their residences. The RFP (Request for Proposal) was created to identify a vendor partner and to pilot an internet proctoring solution.