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The device will cost Troy students 5, White said.Richard Garrett, a senior research analyst at Eduventures who closely follows online learning, said he finds the technology promising, particularly for large companies trying to streamline a now-messy part of their operation. Stephen Slavin, dean of corporate and professional education at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, said his institution is always looking at new technologies, but recording students by camera “would be probably pushing the boundary of our comfort level.” White predicts some students will find it odd and even threatening, and may decide to drop out.
Officials at all three schools said they rely mostly on student writing assignments.
They say that’s the best method to assess their students, most of whom are working adults. The military, whose tuition assistance programs are a huge source of revenue for online universities, is asking questions about testing to make sure students are earning credible degrees, Winneg said.
For Sandra Kinney, a state employee from Stockbridge, Ga., pursuing a master’s in public administration and one of the students on Troy’s trial run, having a camera in her home was no big deal.
It was worth it not to have to drive to an exam center.
“In some cases they did, and probably in some cases they didn’t.” The other was to arrange proctoring with a testing company and travel to one of their centers.
But that was inconvenient for many students — and, of course, impossible for soldiers in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Distance learning programs also need to keep their accreditation agencies happy, as well as Congress, so that the programs can continue to receive federal financial aid dollars.
At Troy, like at many distance learning programs, past testing options have been less than ideal.
The latest version also includes fingerprint authentication, to help ensure the person taking the test isn’t a ringer.
But the new development is a small webcam and microphone that is set up where a student takes the exam.
But some new technology that places a camera inside students’ homes may be the way of the future — as long as students don’t find it too creepy. The device, made by Software Secure, is similar in many respects to other test-taking software.