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People with special needs not dissuaded by biometrics for educational access, report says

online age verification

A Europe-wide study on students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) conducted to explore whether biometric and online authentication methods for online education portals affected a students’ willingness to use the resource indicates that having a range of authentication methods is more important than choosing or avoiding a particular method.

The digitization of learning resources in higher-education (particularly as a result of COVID-19) has allowed for greater learning flexibility and availability, but inevitably demands greater use of personal identity data for authentication while logging onto online educational and resource portals. Last year, CourseKey released a biometric facial and fingerprint scanning solution to keep track of student attendance and curtail online education fraud.

David Bañeres, a professor at the Faculty of Computer Science at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) in Spain, ran a research study on 14,000 students at 8 European universities to evaluate the needs of those with special needs and disabilities. UoC, utilises an e-assessment platform called TeSLA (Adaptive Trust-based E-assessment System for Learning) a system that facilitates access to online resources for SEND students.

“We evaluated the perceptions of students with special educational needs and disabilities in relation to the use of an authentication and authorship validation system and the sharing of personal biometric data, which, for some students, may include highly sensitive information related to their special need or disability,” Baneres says of the study.

This type of sensitive data is protected under Europe’s privacy regulations (GDPR).

Personal student information could be compromised in a number of ways, therefore reliable digital authentication systems and trust in new educational technologies is paramount to student use.

At the start of the outbreak, TypingDNA offered free biometric authentication for educational institutes and students, to support remote learning.

The study ruled out special educational needs or disabilities as a variable impacting a student’s willingness to use a given biometric or authentication system, yet Baneres suggests alternative authentication log-on methods should be used by Higher Education Institutes to improve accessibility to everyone.

Age, gender, and previous experience with technology are more likely to affect the acceptance of an authentication system, the report concludes.

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