A Theoretical Approach for
Biometrics Authentication of e-Exams
In the past fifteen years the use of Internet technologies has been substantially growing for delivery of educational content. E-learning environments have been incorporated in many universities for the delivery of e-learning courses. However, opponents of e-learning claim that a central disadvantage of such teaching medium is the growing unethical conduct in such environments. In particular, opponents of e-learning argue that the inability to authenticate exam takers is a major challenge of e-learning environments. As a result, some institutions proposed to take extreme measures including asking students to take exams in proctor centers or even abandon completely the offering of e-learning courses in their institutions. This paper attempts to address this important problem by proposing a theoretical approach that incorporates available fingerprint biometrics authentication technologies in conjunction with e-learning environments to curb unethical conduct during e-learning exam taking. The proposed approach suggests practical solution that can incorporate a random fingerprint biometrics user authentication during exam taking in e-learning courses. Doing so is hypothesized to curb exam cheating in e-learning environments. This paper proposed a theoretical approach for fingerprint biometrics authentication of exam takers in e-learning environments. Teaching via the Internet has become a popular choice for academic institutions (Hiltz & Turoff, 2005). Advances in information systems have enabled educational institutions to implement e-learning systems as teaching environments (Alavi & Leidner, 2001). Furthermore, e-learning has become a powerful medium for academic institutions due to cutting edge technologies. Hiltz and Turoff (2005) noted that e-learning is “the latest of social technologies that ... has improved distance learning” (p. 59). Gunasekaran et al. (2002) described the growth in e-learning as the “new dynamic learning models…and is leading the [academic] market to a significant paradigm and cultural change” (p. 45). E-learning courses are increasingly offered by universities. Consequently, new resources such as e-books and e-exams have been implemented in e-learning courses. Students’ enrollment in e-learning courses has proliferated to over 3 million in the U.S. in 2005 (NCES, 2005). About 82% of those online students were enrolled in undergraduate level courses (NCES, 2005). Accordingly, numerous academic institutions are planning to increase the number of e-learning courses to meet this growth. However, security issues related to e-learning systems have been raised by several scholars (Ramim & Levy, 2006). Moreover, opponents of e-learning argue that the inability to authenticate e-exam takers is one of the major challenges of e-learning. Although there is a major growth in e-learning, some institutions proposed to take extreme measures including asking e-learning students to take e-exams in proctored centers (Gunasekaran et al., 2002). However, this requirement may not be feasible for e-learning programs with students in remote locations such as in military service or students with severe disabilities. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
Unethical Conduct in e-Learning
Given the growth of e-learning, students’ unethical conduct in e-learning has become a major concern (Kennedy et al., 2000). Pillsbury (2004) argues that students’ unethical conduct has intensified due to technology usage. Most instructors focus on one type of unethical conduct, namely plagiarism (Naude & Hörne, 2006; McCabe, 2003). However, students’ unethical conduct encompasses wide array of technology-enabled behaviors such as cheating during e-exam using devices (i.e. PDA, calculator, and cellular phone), engaging in e-collaboration (i.e. instant messenger, chat, and forums), and deceiving (i.e. logging with another student’s username/password). These...
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