Halting cheating in MOOCs may require a little homework for faculty

Many online programs have turned to advanced proctoring technology.

Spy technology fit for a James Bond movie might not be necessary for curbing cheating in massive open online courses (MOOCs). Academic dishonesty could be foiled in a decidedly more analogue way, University of Virginia researchers say.

Faculty members concerned that students are consulting Google’s everlasting well of knowledge during MOOC quizzes, tests, and final exams can cut down on cheating by simply creating multiple forms of an exam – potentially a simpler solution than the high-tech anti-plagiarism programs that can detect keystrokes and monitor students’ actions during online tests.

In the journal Research & Practice in Assessment, UVA Curry School of Education assistant professor J. Patrick Meyer and doctoral student Shi Zhu advocate the far less sophisticated anti-cheating measure as a way to ensure academic quality during the spread of MOOCs throughout higher education.

Ensuring that all the forms of an online exam are equally difficult would require some homework from professors bent on stopping cheating, Meyer and Zhu wrote. The test forms would require a common scale “so that scores have the same meaning and interpretation.”

Meyer’s and Zhu’s suggestions come as virtual proctoring programs have made significant advancements as online course enrollment increases, with software able to detect the rhythm of how a student enters a password, for example.

See Page 2 for examples of how students have Googled their way to an A+.

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