Friday, June 20, 2008

Safety and My Online courses

I run an online learning service which has thousands of students ( It's automated and there have been no teachers so all of our security issues have been of the technical type so far.

We started recently a new service teaching writing ( in which we provide an 8 week writing course online which is led by a teacher. I'm looking for some feedback on our approach to safety:
1. All parents (who must sign up students) and students are informed that all of the class communication should happen thru our online website (moodle is our learning management service). No email and no phone calls.
2. 100% of the communications are saved, monitored, and reviewable.
3. We review about 20% of them on an ongoing basis.
4. No private student to student communication is allowed.

My new big question (as we expand past teachers that I personally know or who are onsite) is about teachers.

I only hire "accredited teachers" which means (in the modern era) that they have had a full background check with fingerprinting etc. Since I intend to hire some of these teachers over the internet, I also conduct a webcam based interview (although so far, we don't use that technology in the classes). My reason is so that I can visually verify their identity against the documents that they've sent me (including a driver's license) to make sure that the person is who they say they are. (I'm worried about identity theft and approving "borrowed" credentials)
Anybody got any feedback on this approach?


1 comment:

Viki Gardner said...

I am an experienced online instructor, and it sounds like you are going above and beyond all expectations for hiring an online teacher who will never be in personal contact with the students anyway. If a teacher's credentials check out, especially a background check with fingerprinting, one other step would be to contact previous employers. I have obtained all of my online teaching jobs without a webcam interview, only a phone interview (I don't even own a webcam). The companies have required that a notary verify my identification, and that has so far been the extent of checking identity, other than the background check and fingerprints (the FBI must have several sets of my prints floating through their network). I work for several online institutes, including Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Aventa Learning, and Performance Learning Systems. None of them required more than a phone interview and background check, but did require a notary to verify my identification. I hope that helps!

Viki Gardner,
Online Instructor