We truly wish to believe that the Internet is a safe place, but it is always good to do a reality check. We tend to become easy fodder for malicious people who eye our identity, valuable personal data and other information. Students searching for / pursuing online programs often fall prey to such machinations and are left with a hole in their wallet and an illegitimate credential.
Types of Online Certification Frauds
There are many types of frauds which you can avoid with proper online certification software.
Diploma mills are institutions that sell fake certificates. They are not accredited by any legitimate accrediting bodies, although they could be supported by accreditation mills. There are two types of diploma mills viz. Diploma mills that put on a mask of being an institution and Diploma mills that sell degrees for outright cash.
Accreditation mills are accreditation bodies that provide fake accreditation to diploma mills in return for money. These accreditation organizations are unable to grant authentic accreditation as they are not recognized by governments and by mainstream academia.
Life Experience Degrees
There are institutions that promise to grant a degree on the basis of life experience. While professional certifications and licenses may reward life experiences with a limited amount of credits that translate into a few classes, the promise of receiving an entire degree based on life experience should ring warning bells.
Warning Signs of Fraud
The prospective students should be alert to the warning signs of a fake institution, offering equally fake certificates. The accreditation status of such institution may be extremely murky. The name of the institution seems prestigious and vaguely familiar as it tends to be fabricated from a renowned name in an attempt to attract gullible students. Earning a degree appears to be a fast and effortless process. There is a striking absence of student services such as technology support, advising desk and library. Aggressive and pestering behavior by the sales personnel is another indication that a program is a degree mill. The demand for substantial upfront fees payment should also rightfully evoke suspicions as legitimate academic programs generally offer a semester-wise payment schedule.
Making the Certification Program Robust
Certification programs must offer clear goals, objectives, and standards. They should unambiguously outline the skills, conceptual and technological learning that would take place in the program. The certification programs should also explicitly define the pre-requisite experience and education for completing the certification program, best if done through an online exam proctoring.
Certification programs should lay down the assessment criteria for evaluating content mastery and skills i.e. the number of exams, exam duration and mode of examination. Good certification programs must communicate their assessment expectations upfront for the benefit of candidates.
Certification programs should offer ongoing benefits and support to their credential holders and this is already being done by many. Many certification programs provide job pools, job banks and online resume posting services to their credential holders.
To conclude, there is hope. Frauds can be prevented by being aware of the types of frauds, alert to the warning signals and having a robust mechanism to respond to frauds.