A Rant About Customer Service vs. “Personal Security Questions”

I just encountered a pet peeve of mine last night. I was asked to update my account information on my cell phone carrier’s website, and I had to set up one of those now-common sets of “secret questions” for security in order to make a change to my account. While I agree very much with the concept, I think they must be letting 18-year-olds create the lists (no offense to young people here!). One of the lists they gave me, with no other options, was all about my ‘favorites” — my favorite movie, my favorite actor, my favorite restaurant, etc. These are all things that change over time, and therefore are TERRIBLE answers to expect me to provide in six months or a year, when I’m making more changes to my account and my “favorites” have changed! These lists should always ask for static information — where I was born, my brother’s middle name, the year I graduated from high school, etc.

Student Authentication for Online Courses

The recent Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) has made it mandatory that we be able to verify that the correct person is actually taking an online exam or other high-stakes assessment. The legislation language indicates that an institution must verify students’ identity by using at least one of the following:

  1. secure login and pass code
  2. proctored exams
  3. identification technologies

Regardless of which of these an institution pursues, there are some guidelines that may help with decision-making.

This blog article gives a good overview of how the online education sector is addressing these needs. It also provides a useful conversation point for a broader discussion of concerns of academic integrity that are not addressed by the legislation. It’s worth reading.

An Update on Student Authentication and the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA)