How Software Helps Keep Online Learners Honest

Beth Porter for writes:   People often express worry that the relative anonymity of online learning environments and the disconnected nature of being in a MOOC (massive online open course) leads to more opportunities for academic dishonesty and outright cheating.

However, emerging and improving technologies may prove to offer more — not less — protection from would-be cheaters.

All online learning environments collect data — copious amounts — about their learners, and software is especially good at revealing patterns that may signal that cheating is happening. Knowing that you might get caught can be a powerful deterrent. Likewise, several new technologies seek to prevent cheating from the outset. These include virtual proctoring, identity verification and problem randomization — all of which we explore in this article.

Online Education And MOOCs Are About Access To Learning

Online education, and MOOCs in particular, promote access. For students in remote locations, with little or no access to residential experiences, online learning provides opportunities for academic and professional advancement that would never be available otherwise. For non-traditional students pursuing an education later in life, online learning provides flexibility and convenience and a chance to pursue or complete a degree without having to show up in a classroom.

In online courses that allow learners to work at their own pace and follow their own interests, the impetus for cheating is already quite low and, in general, instances of academic cheating are fewer in low-pressure environments. Online courses may be no less rigorous, but they are often more self-directed experiences that require students to keep their own academic discipline and demonstrate mastery in multiple ways.

However, as online learning becomes more primary and less supplemental, and MOOCs move from single courses for academic enrichment to high-stakes offerings — credits and degrees (e.g., see this TechCrunch article) — technology is paving the way for credible monitoring of student behavior online.  SNIP, the article continues @ TechCrunch, click here to continue reading….

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