Student Identity Verification on Distance Learning

The Smith College School for Social Work (SSW) offers a limited number of courses online during the Practicum period. This policy applies to any credit-bearing online course offered by the SSW beginning with the application for admission and continuing through to a student’s graduation, transfer or withdrawal from the School. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the SSW operates in compliance with the provisions of the United States Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) concerning the verification of student identity in distance education and the expectation of the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

The HEOA requires that institutions offering distance education or correspondence courses or programs have processes in place to ensure that the student registering for a course is the same student who participates in the course or receives course credit. The HEOA requires that institutions use one of the following three methods:

  • A secure login and passcode
  • Proctored examinations
  • New or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification
  • Compliance

The SSW employs a secure login and pass code for student accounts. Upon enrollment, each SSW student is assigned a sequentially generated nine-digit student identification number. All SSW students are provided credentials for secure access to the SSW systems, including for distance learning. Students are responsible for providing their complete and true identity information in any identification verification process. SSW students are required to follow the acceptable use policy, which includes stipulations that they may not provide someone their password or allow others to use their account. Finally, all online courses will include both synchronous and non-synchronous content; this allows faculty to view and interact with students being instructed. Students enrolled into an online course are provided with a unique zoom account with which to access class conversations.

Students use their unique credentials, including their SSW email address and a password, to access the Smith portal, which is the gateway to a number of information systems and resources including Moodle, the School’s learning management system. Moodle integrates with the School’s authentication services to ensure appropriate and secure student access to course materials. All users of the School’s learning management system are responsible for maintaining the security of login information and passwords and any other access credentials as required. Attempting to discover another user’s password or attempts to gain unauthorized access to another person’s files or email is prohibited.

In the event that an exam for a distance for a distance course must be proctored, the instructor is required to make arrangements in advance with students. These arrangements must include advance notification of any fees associated with proctoring.

The SSW complies fully with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. 1232g, which protects the privacy of student information in distance education.