Taking course on an open online learning platform has different requirements than auditorium lectures. One of the main requirements and challenges is learner identity verification. In open online learning, all teaching and learning happens online and, usually, teacher doesn’t meet learners face to face.
All institutions providing online learning courses should consider this issue and think of possible solutions for learner identification taking into account the pre-conditions established in their country. E-Citizenship program e-Government and other national solutions for digital identification of a person can be immediately applied to identify and authenticate users using mobile signature, bank account, and other tools.
There are solutions for user authentication, most common uses biometric parameters, such as fingerprint, face, voice recognition (Rabuzin et al., 2006), however all these solutions requires special devices to be used to verify user identity. Also Anita Lee-Post & Holly Hapke (2017) indicate that following solutions has concerns about data security and privacy issues, as such data is very sensitive. Furthermore this solution is valid only for initial login process. For open online learning this solution would be too complex to achieve.
Another solution for learner identity would be continuous authentication. This solution could be used during exams or other assignments which learner is doing. Apampa K.M., (2010) mentions video monitoring/recording solution via webcam. However such solution also requires special software to make video recordings and physical work or sophisticated software which would analyze recorded video and alert teacher if that was not the actual learner who attept the exam. Also learner would have to have webcam but in this time most devices already has webcameras.
More advanced and solution for learner identity is proctoring, such as RPnow (remoteproctor.com) which proctors user while he is taking an exam. Such solutions is usually third-party and are comercial ones, which means that institution has to pay anually or for every exam taken. In RPnow case learner would download special software which should be installed in his computer, then software tests microphone, camera and computer (what other software is currently running), learner must make a picture of his personal/student ID, and should make a selfie then system verifies learner. Before taking an exam learner should move camera around the envirenment in which he is to show that there is no reading or other materials which could be used while taking exam. All exam process is being recorded and stored. Software continiuosly records the desktop, additional software and learner it self.
Jeffrey L. Bailie, Michael A. Jortberg (2009), Bedford, W., Gregg, J., & Clinton. S. (2011) also indicates similar learner identity verification solutions: Biometrics and Web Video Recording, Challenge Questions, Face-to-Face Proctored Exam, Web Video Conference Proctor.
International solutions which would be freely available (open source software, etc.) are not established yet in order to apply them unanimously, therefore, there is no single solution for each European country. Some learner identity methods which work in one country might not work in another. As analysis of different methods is currently in progress we have highlighted most effective methods which might me used so far:
Social networks authentication: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn are among the most popular social networks. Most people have at least one account in these networks. According to the rules of social networks, users should use their real names and photos. Using social networks for user authentication could be a solution to open online learning platform user authentication in case we all are meeting social network regulations. But what if we do not?
Using social network authentication might work with video conferencing solution. If user logins with his Facebook or other social network account his profile picture is passed to learning management system (LMS). If exam would be agreed on specific time via video conferencing tool teacher could check user profile photo and actual learner in video conference to be sure that it is the same person.