To catch a test-taking thief (with technology)

Now that American education has entered the era of the MOOC — the Massive Open Online Course — the opportunity for cheating appears greater than ever. The omniscient Google search engine is never more than a few keystrokes away for the computer-bound, CNN Money reports.

So how can a proctor possibly manage the far-flung multitudes, let alone smoke out cheaters taking tests across the Internet?

Using technology, of course.

While proctoring services via webcam and plagiarism-detecting software have been around for several years now, an India-based startup has come to America — Silicon Valley, obviously — with automated, algorithm-based techniques for netting cheaters that the company claims are even more sophisticated and foolproof. Essentially, if you try to pull a fast one, your computer will rat you out.

The online assessment company Mettl has incorporated a handful of technologies into its test-taking platform, creating, for the duration of an exam at least, a mini-surveillance state.

Here’s how it works: A test-taker signs on to Mettl and selects his/her exam from the site’s library of pre-loaded tests. Facial and keystroke recognition technology verify the person that has signed in is the person they say they are, and the system records both the test-taker (through the webcam) and the test-taker’s screen throughout the test.

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