User Authentication System
SmarterID is a cutting edge user authentication system that uses facial recognition to validate identity and document attendance. It can be used inside SmarterProctoring or as a standalone application. Due to federal regulations with financial aid, it is critical that schools are actively verifying student’s identity which is difficult to do with students doing coursework remotely outside the classroom. Our state of the art system requires no change in delivery method or modifications of course design. After a brief initial setup that includes taking a picture of a valid ID and uploading it, a student is “registered” in the system and ready to go.
Low friction authentication process
Robust reporting with detailed user activity
Unique liveness check and spoof detection
Instant flagging & alerts of suspicious activity
Completely customizable per course
View short video of authentication session
Why Should My School Use SmarterID?
One of the realities of eLearning is that it is possible for someone other than the registered student to be the person actually doing the work. Here are some examples:
- Helicopter Parents – Mom and dad are paying the tuition and they want to make sure that their son or daughter do not get a failing grade. After all, they paid lots of tuition and they want to make sure they get credit hours toward a degree.
- Boyfriend or Girlfriend – Hey, that’s what friends are for, right? You want to keep your special friend happy with you, so why not help them out with their online school work.
- Hired Help – Just like you can buy term papers online, you can pay someone to use your login to do your online course work. We have heard of college students who make pretty good money this way. One term they may take the course for themselves, so they know what all of the assignments are enabling them to help subsequent students with nominal new creative effort.
- School Staff – This may seem like an extreme case, but we had a school report to us that assistant coaches were completing the online course assignments for their athletes.
- Secretaries – In the case of professional continuing education we have heard of several cases were a professional’s (i.e. real estate agent, banker, etc.) has tasked their secretary to click through their online continuing education courses.
One way that persons attempt to steal from the government is by creating fake students (sometimes using stolen IDs) and then register for college courses under the fake name then receive student loans. In 2013 the Office of Inspector General (OIG) performed an audit of eight distance learning programs. Their finding was that the eight schools “disbursed nearly $222 million to more than 42,000 distance education students who did not earn any credits during a payment period.” SmarterID is able to validate that the person who is enrolled in a course is a legitimate, actual person by verifying that their government issued ID card is authentic.
In addition to verifying the student’s identity, determination of attendance in a distance education course affects a student’s eligibility to receive or retain initial and subsequent disbursements of Title IV funds. The 2014 audit by the OIG found that schools are not being consistent with how they define and measure attendance in a distance education course. Schools also had difficulty in retaining evidence of a student’s academic attendance. The report stated, “We found that all eight schools considered activity that was not academic attendance to be evidence that distance education students attended their courses.”
A simple instance of logging into a learning management system should not constitute attendance any more than walking into the classroom building of an on-campus course constitutes attendance. The audit report stated, “By itself, evidence that the student accessed the online learning system is not sufficient to support that the student attended an academically related activity as required…”
The OIG went on to say, “We accepted as sufficient evidence a student (1) submitting discussion postings related to classwork; (2) completing exams, quizzes, or assignments; or (3) initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject.” SmarterID is able to verify using facial recognition that the student who participates in these three and other instructional activities is the actual person enrolled in the course – not their parent, friend, coach or anyone else. Schools are able to choose the points in the online course and the frequency of authentication checks.
In addition to verifying the student’s identity, SmarterID is also useful for documenting records of attendance of instructional activities in online courses. The OIG audit stated, “None of the eight schools that we reviewed retained adequate evidence of a student’s academic attendance, as required in regulation that became effective July 1, 2010 …which requires schools to document that the activity is academically related and document that the student attended the activity.
Federal regulation requires schools to verify student identification. The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 states, “Requires institutions that offer distance education or correspondence education to have processes in place through which the institution establishes that the student who registers in a distance education or correspondence education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the academic credit. The agency meets this requirement if it— 1. Requires institutions to verify the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework by using, at the option of the institution, methods such as: a. A secure login and pass code; b. Proctored examinations; and c. New or other identification technologies that are effective in verifying student identification.”
SmarterID is a new identification technology that verifies student identification thus demonstrating compliance with this regulation. Sure, currently a school can be in compliance only with the use of user names and passwords, but as reported above in the audit by the Office of Inspector General, that approach alone is not sufficient to prevent fraudulent, dishonest activity.