Online academic integrity: an institutional choice

Academic integrity is a critical asset in our higher education infrastructure which protects the quality and value of degrees conferred.

Douglas Winneg

The first brick of the foundation is student authentication – the assurance that the student who claims credit from a particular school is that person and is deserving of the grade awarded.

Without this cornerstone, the integrity of our education system will topple.

The reliance on academic integrity impacts education in several ways, from facilitating hiring decisions, to determining acceptance into graduate programs. It also separates individuals based on merit.

Educational institutions can attract top faculty offering the best content, but without academic integrity, there is little reason for others to see value in the institution and those graduating therefrom.

With the growth of distance and online education being the catalyst, technological solutions have emerged in the marketplace to help safeguard academic integrity. Therein presents a new challenge, who should be the chief architect for driving the decision, selection and administration of these solutions?

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The single-most confounding market reality I have faced – and continue to face – is schools deferring to faculty when it comes to the enforcement of academic integrity. Over the 14 years at my company Software Secure, I have worked with more than a thousand academic institutions, designing systems and products that ensure that students could benefit from using computers to take proctored exams without facilitating digital cheating.

Here’s what I’ve learned, schools are looking to accomplish the following: protect their brands, ensure students don’t cheat, maintain a level playing field to support the students who have endeavored and performed honestly for their achievements and finally – a way to offer learners who are not able to enter the traditional classroom an alternative method of earning a degree by working for it online.

These are noble and proper goals.

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