For learners, add explicit guidance about the need for a webcam to verify identity


"State clearly and explicitly in all Verification documentation and help desk responses that: NO, you cannot verify if you do not have a webcam or a mobile device with an online camera that operates as a webcam."

Full text follows.

On Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 3:49 PM, Derek Hixon <> wrote:

Hey All,

Just wanted to pass along some feedback from a frustrated Learner. No action required, just wanted to pass along if curious.

tl;dr - Learner had a laptop w/no webcam and phone with no internet connection so couldn't get photos verified.

Support'll be working on modifying how we do things with #3, but maybe adding some verbiage in documentation or product may help - admittedly, edge case scenarios such as this.

Again, no action needed - just trying to pass along feedback when relevant.



Attn: The Manager

I've giving my experience a bad rating. This is due to the edx system/procedures, NOT due to Mewish Salman. Her responses were prompt, polite and helpful throughout. However, this experience did highlight some areas where the edX system can be improved to prevent similar problems in future.

Since I'm one of the few people on the planet who doesn't own a webcam. I wrote to the edX help desk asking if there was a way to verify without a webcam. They replied: yes you can, and I blythely paid the Verification fee.

This is where a communication disconnect occurred. I took their response to mean that there was a link where I could upload the 2 required photos from my pc hard disk to edX without a webcam. But I soon discovered that what they actually meant was : No you can't. You must have a webcam, or a mobile device with an online camera (ie operating as a webcam) to verify. You cannot directly upload the photos without a webcam.

So I asked for a refund of the verification fees, (as is allowed within 12 days of payment), intending to return to the honour code track. And they very efficiently responded the following day advising that the refund had been processed. Unfortunately, they also deleted this course from my dashboard. All my assignment and exam marks vanished! All that hard work just disappeared. I was very upset to say the least!

After a flurry of several emails to the edx help desk, which failed to successfully resolve the problem, and a request to escalate the matter to edX management, I received 2 emails from edX which both said:

"Once you ask for a refund you are automatically un-enrolled from the course"

I think this is very unfair. It would be a simple matter to just untick the "verified" option and tick the "honour code" option, while leaving the course in my dashboard with all the honour code assignment and exam marks intact, just as it was before the verification process began. Deleting / un-enrolling the entire course seems a bit harsh and unnecessary. This was apparently not the fault of Mewish, but just part of the normal procedure which needs to be changed.

After not being able to get a satisfactory solution through edX, I contacted the Course teacher, and he restored my marks for the course.

Recommendations to edX:

Firstly, I'd like to acknowledge that all the people from the edX help desk who responded to my emails did so promptly, politely and in a spirit of helpfulness even in the face of my growing frustration.

To avoid this kind of issue recurring, I suggest that edX implement the following changes to procedures.

State clearly and explicitly in all Verification documentation and help desk responses that: NO, you cannot verify if you do not have a webcam or a mobile device with an online camera that operates as a webcam.

Or better still, Implement a link where students can upload photos directly from their pc hard drive to edX WITHOUT a webcam (or without a mobile device with an online camera that operates as a webcam.)

When processing verification refunds, modify the process so that the course and any results gained, are NOT automatically deleted from the student's dashboard. Only the track is changed from Verified to Honour Code. Students can then choose to retain or delete the course themselves via their dashboard options. This would save students the angst of seeing their hard-earned results disappear. And it would probably lighten the help desk's load of time-consuming and frustrating/frustrated followup emails too.

The above changes would be cost-effective and simple to implement and would benefit both students and help-desk staff.

Also, since I cannot get a verified certificate would you please send me an honour code certificate for this course (ANU ASTRO4 Cosmology) and (ANU ASTRO3 The Violent Universe. Thank you.


Derek Hixon
Senior Manager, Support Services
(w) 617-324-9759 (e)
Documentation | Technical Support | Partner Portal

Steps to Reproduce


Current Behavior


Expected Behavior


Reason for Variance


Release Notes


User Impact Summary



Alison Hodges
July 19, 2016, 8:46 PM

Might want to add for course teams as well.



Sylvia Pearce


Alison Hodges





Platform Area




Partner Manager




Contributor Name


Groups with Read-Only Access


Actual Points


Category of Work


Platform Map Area (Levels 1 &amp; 2)


Platform Map Area (Levels 3 &amp; 4)


Story Points