Online Degrees: Friend or Foe?

Going online has never been easier. And now, neither has getting certified. Many reputable institutions across the country offer online-only courses, meaning students can enroll and earn certificates from the comfort of their own homes, libraries or local test centers. An example being a masters of education online(AD).

But with the great opportunities the Internet provides also comes anonymity — and ambiguity. After all, if students never even step foot on campus, how do schools know that they are who they say they are? How does the school know if the student’s work is legitimate, and how do the students know the institution’s degrees carry weight?

This online security issue has serious repercussions not just for the educational institution but for would-be students everywhere. If a degree from a particular university is compromised due to cheating, not only is that university’s reputation damaged, but the quality of the online degree is jeopardized.

That’s why many institutions are working to tighten the security of their online courses and why a new suggested provision to the Higher Education Act could require schools to prove the identity and legitimacy of the student via webcams, fingerprints and other means.

“If the integrity of the online course is diminished, everybody pays a price,” said Matt Shanahan, senior vice president of marketing and strategy at AdmitOne Security, a risk-based authentication solutions provider.

“If it’s ever brought up that there’s widespread cheating, those degrees will immediately be devalued and so will the online courses,” he said.…


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