Online universities have turn out to be not unusual as extra students are looking for handy, bendy methods to earn degrees. They are specifically popular among nontraditional students, like new parents who want to take lessons at their personal tempo or full-time specialists who need to take evening publications to advance their careers.
Western Governors University (WGU), a nonprofit online college based in Salt Lake City, become founded in 1997 by 19 governors of western U.S. States to create a skilled staff. The college now serves those who want to take online lessons, grading them with a competency-based device that calls for them to illustrate they have got found out the specified substances.
But how do educators make sure students are not cheating their approaches to levels if all instructions and tests are conducted remotely? Maureen O’Brien, WGU’s director of evaluation management, these days informed PYMNTS how the college verifies its college students and how it balances the need for authentication easily of use.
Trust, But Verify
One of the largest styles of training-related fraud is as easy as it is conventional: students sending a person else to take assessments for them. This sort of fraud performed a good sized role on this year’s widely publicized college admission scandal. Wealthy dad and mom took advantage of lax authentication processes and paid surrogates as much as $75,000 to take university admission assessments for his or her kids. This trouble is exacerbated in a web environment, wherein identity techniques cannot be physically checked through employees.
WGU utilizes several techniques to make sure check-takers are who they are saying they are.
“To get into the testing, they log in with their signal-on credentials, [including] their precise user ID and password,” O’Brien stated. “They have to show a government-issued picture ID [to a proctor on a webcam], and the call has to fit the call inside the scholar account.”
Students can without problems offer that facts to accomplices, but, which means in addition verification measures are important. WGU used to depend upon keystroke biometrics, which affirms users through reading typing patterns and geo-referencing them with students’ gathered data. O’Brien said that this application had many flaws and did not match the university’s needs, resulting in its termination.
“We got lots of fake positives because it turned out humans typing after they’re not stressed [exhibit] one-of-a-kind behavior from after they’re harassed,” she stated.
The college started using a webcam-primarily based device in 2015. WGU students have issued an external webcam that they’re required to use rather than their laptops’ built-in cameras. The cameras meet sure dimensions and specifications, allowing proctors to screen test-takers, verify their identities and ensure they’re now not cheating.
“We accept as true with the outside webcam gives us the first-rate view of the trying out environment,” O’Brien said. “First, the proctor greets the pupil. Then, they do a 360-degree test of the environment, so the students can’t have notes published up at the wall.”
The digital camera’s audio is likewise vital inside the prevention of dishonest. Proctors can concentrate on what’s going on inside the check-takers surroundings and ensure that the pupil doesn’t have an off-display screen partner telling them the solutions.
“The proctor can listen what’s happening inside the room,” O’Brien stated. “If there’s some disturbance or anything, the proctor can always halt the exam and inquire with the scholar or do an additional test.”
Authentication precautions like these may additionally result in more comfortable assessments, but they also can make already stressful situations even more taxing.
“We don’t need it to be intrusive or disturbing,” O’Brien stated. “We’re usually … [making] sure that it’s a seamless and fine revel in for the students. As fine as it may be, besides, due to the fact they’re certainly inclined while they’re being examined.”
WGU’s Take a Break software, which earned a Nonprofit Innovation Award from the U.S. Distance Learning Association, reduces stress on college students via letting them take one 10-minute break every hour without compromising security. Students in need of a wreck click on a button that alerts the proctor, which blocks access to the examination for the subsequent 10 mins and prevents them from accessing questions they already replied or skipped.
“You can’t go off, take a spoil, examine, pass back and answer a question,” O’Brien defined. “[The program] at the beginning got here out of an accessibility requirement, but all of our students gain from it.”
Verification Through Stylometry
WGU is asking into some of the technologies to stability verification effectively of use, a concern for the university. Facial and voice recognition could go a protracted way toward providing seamless verification methods, however, O’Brien believes the ultimate goal is verification thru the check substances.
“Some form of stylometry analysis might be fabulous – so one can understand that, sure, that is completely steady with how this student has been writing,” O’Brien stated. “Obviously, you will expect by the quit in their diploma program they might be advanced from how they began out, however, there could likely be still a certain fundamental fashion that you could say, sure, that’s certainly them.”
In the technology of streaming entertainment and online news, the wide variety of agencies supplying virtual systems for content is at the upward thrust. And clients now have a plethora of alternatives at their disposal, which creates competition in an area in which structures such as Apple Music and Spotify are looking to attract the same customers.
But subscriptions also shall we merchants to have interaction with their clients better no matter the services or products they buy, consistent with the PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Tracker. The index notes these forms of offerings are becoming extra commonplace, and the worldwide market for subscriptions is anticipated to have a cost of over $500 billion by means of next yr.
From Hulu to Roku, streaming services are presenting new features to assist serve their clients who join content material. These are just some of the ways that they are enhancing their offerings — and the way the market for subscriptions in sectors inclusive of health and beauty as well as streaming services is faring within the virtual age:
The projected over-the-pinnacle (OTT) media sales for 2019 is $22 billion. And OTT services are providing purchasers new ways to pay: In December, for instance, news surfaced that Hulu and Venmo connected up to offer Venmo’s payment services to the streaming platform. The business enterprise stated in a declaration at the time, “At Hulu, we need to deliver our viewers desire and flexibility, in as many methods as viable.” The company continued, “From infusing our product along with your preferred functions like Night Mode on Web to helping all of the gadgets that matter most to you, we constantly strive to make it smooth that allows you to flow, any way you want.” Those who have an account with Venmo could be capable of the sign on for a brand new account at Hulu without getting into credit card facts. Venmo will seem as an choice at the charge display screen and either a balance with Venmo or a connected fee will complete the transaction.