With the rise of the internet and other technologies, it has become easier than ever to be able to provide education and access to people who might otherwise not have access or be able to afford to take classes they want to take. An offshoot of a traditional university program began a few years ago which offers online only courses, taught by professors who record their lectures and provide their class materials exclusively online. With the right technology and security, any student can sign up for a class, pay for it, and participate fully in any course.
The domain name for the online program is similar to the main program the university offers, and students can find it with a simple search online. Once they have enrolled in the program, which requires a lot of personally identifiable information to do so, they are allowed to register for classes. Even if they do not go on to take classes with the university, they have already provided information such as their name, birthday, and any transcripts from previous programs. This type of information needs to be properly protected by SSL certificates, and the program displays their certificate information proudly on their website.
The website also includes financial information ultimately, because any student who wishes to enroll in the program has to pay for the class through the website, as well as apply for any needed financial aid. This is sensitive information as well, and must be protected by any online university who wishes to maintain a solid reputation and encourage more students to attend. SSL certificates are displayed at each page where a student has to enter any type of sensitive information, or where a teacher has to enter a grade, or post an exam.
Once a student has enrolled and paid for a class, they then have to use the website to navigate their assignments, which include weekly reading, homework, and tests. The teachers will post tests for a finite amount of time, and allow students to log in and complete it only during a certain time period. This is another feature that must be kept carefully protected by the website so that academic integrity is not compromised. Imagine what would happen to an online educational program if it was discovered that its own students were able to break into the system and manipulate it for their own purposes, such as finding out the tests and assignments ahead of time or even worse, changing a grade to suit themselves.
Online education programs are proving to be vitally important in reaching vulnerable populations who either cannot afford or do not live close to a university. They serve a critical role in helping everyone further their education, but they must also be very careful to safeguard both themselves and their students when creating programs online. They must be safe for both students to provide personal information and pay for classes, as well as for teachers and administrators to run the educational programs that provide so much additional value in the twenty first century.