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White Paper Available on Student Identity Verification

Acxiom : 26 March, 2010  (Technical Article)
Report from Acxiom examines the need for identity verification of students applying for distance learning programs as a means of preventing student aid fraud
As distance education transforms the US higher education model, concerns related to academic integrity and financial aid fraud have grown in the education community at large. Addressing these concerns and exploring viable solutions is Acxiom's third annual report on student identity in distance education.

Entitled "Experiences Verifying the Identity of Distance Learning Students," the Acxiom white paper compiles the thinking of key leaders in the higher education accreditation field, summarizes government regulations and includes an in-depth analysis of the categories of solutions currently being implemented to verify student identity.

"As the education models change to adapt to current consumer demands, it is essential to ensure that the student who enrolls is also the student who does the work, receives course credit or receives financial assistance," said Michael Jortberg, author of the study and Acxiom's executive for higher education. "The single most important question to ask is, if staff or students share user IDs, are our processes, faculty and technology sufficient to prevent academic or student aid fraud in our distance learning program?"

The Acxiom study will help institutions determine what assessment processes, technology and faculty practices should be adjusted to further improve quality in their online programs. It includes risk analysis guidelines for leaders of online programs to aid in their analysis of why, when and where to verify student identity.

"I now have an answer to faculty who has asked how they can know who's taking the online assessment," said Larry Dugan, coordinator of Learning Environments at Finger Lakes Community College, part of State University of New York. "This level of authentication really does help with overcoming many objections faculty has to online learning.'

Additionally, the study also discusses Acxiom Identify-X, which offers real-time identity verification by comparing directory information against Acxiom's databases while maintaining regulatory compliance. Acxiom, a global leader in interactive data services, incorporates decades of experience in consumer data, information technology, data integration and consulting into its identity verification solutions.

Burck Smith, CEO and founder of StraighterLine, a provider of online college courses to students, cited Acxiom's technology as crucial to the institution's reputation. "With Acxiom's identity verification system, StraighterLine surpasses higher education's standard for identity checking," Smith said. "Colleges that award credit for StraighterLine's courses have greater confidence in the integrity of student work."

Tony Pina, Dean of Online Studies at Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky., commissioned a survey of students who verified their identities with Acxiom's Identify-X. "It's a far superior approach than proctoring," he said after analyzing his student feedback about the system. "We've tried special hardware devices and proctoring and this is by far the most affordable and easy system to implement."

In addition to offering recommendations, the study also includes:

* Case studies about academic integrity and student aid fraud
* Survey results of faculty opinions about student identity
* Student feedback about privacy, proctoring and academic integrity.
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