This standard applies to all credit-bearing distance education courses or programs offered by Virginia Highlands Community College, beginning with the application for admission and continuing through to a student’s graduation, transfer, or withdrawal from study.
The purpose of this standard is to ensure that Virginia Highlands Community College 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.
All credit-bearing courses and programs offered through distance education methods must verify that the student who registers for a distance education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives academic credit. According to the HEOA, the following are acceptable methods:
- An individual secure login and password,
- Proctored activities, and/or
- Other technologies or practices that are effective in verifying student identification.
All methods of verifying student identity in distance learning must protect the privacy of student information. If any fees associated with the verification of student identity will be charged to students, they will be so indicated in the online catalog or on the “Tuition and Fees” website.
Secure Login and Password: All students at Virginia Highlands Community College who enroll in a distance education course are provided with a secure login and pass code. Students are required to create a password when they apply to the College. The password must be a minimum of eight characters with one lower case letter, one uppercase letter and one number or symbol. This login is required for access to the College’s student information system, Blackboard Learning Management System, and e-mail used to communicate in both distance and traditional courses. Students are required to agree to the user agreement terms as stated in the VCCS Acceptable Use Policy. The standard precludes a student from sharing or using another’s log-in information.
Fees: Virginia Highlands Community College charges no additional fees for the verification of student identity and notifies students of this via the E-Learning Website and the College Catalog and Student Handbook.
Proctored Examinations: All distance education courses must include at least one proctored activity. The VHCC Testing Center is available for instructors’ use. The Testing Center requires all students to show a photo identification prior to any assessment.
Responsibilities: In accordance with the VCCS Acceptable Use Policy, all users of the College’s learning management system are responsible for maintaining the security of usernames, passwords, and other access credentials as required. An account is given to an individual for the exclusive use by that individual. Attempting to discover another user's password or attempts to gain unauthorized access to another person's files or mail is prohibited. It is against College standard for a user to give someone his or her password or allow others to use his or her account. Users are responsible for any and all users of their account. Users are responsible for all activity on their accounts.
Faculty: Faculty teaching courses through distance education methods hold primary responsibility for ensuring that students comply with the identity verification standard. As technology and personal accountability are not absolute in determining a student’s identity, faculty members are encouraged to design courses that use assignments and evaluations that support academic integrity. Changes in student behavior such as sudden shifts in academic performance or changes in writing style or language used in discussion groups or email may indicate academic integrity problems. Instructors routinely should use a variety of assessment instruments.
The Vice President of Instruction and Student Services: Responsible for ensuring compliance with this standard and that deans, program coordinators, and lead faculty are informed of any changes in the standard in a timely fashion. The Vice President of Instruction and Student Services is also responsible for ensuring that administrative offices (registrar, admissions, library, etc.) remain in compliance with this standard.
Director of Distance and Distributed Learning: This standard will be referenced on the VHCC website.