5 Technologies To Take The Cheating Out Of Online Education

As online classes move into the realm of acceptable educational tender, a cheating prevention system has become all the more necessary. Coursera, one of the largest online education providers, has announced its decision to evaluate several of its courses to determine whether they should be made available for college credit — raising the stakes all the higher. None of the major online providers have found technology that is completely foolproof, but technology blog GigaOM suggests some tools that can certainly make cheating more difficult.

Remote live proctoring

With the help of services such as ProctorCamProctorU and Remote Proctor Now, and a webcam, a proctor can watch one — or several — online test takers at once remotely as they take the exam. The proctors have the ability to monitor several students simultaneously using split screens, and in fact, the ratio of proctor to student is higher than it would be in a live setting because of the limitations of the split screen.

Remote web proctoring

It’s the same as remote live proctoring, but without the live person. Instead, this method uses the webcam to record the student taking the test for the professor’s later perusal. Offered by companies like McGraw-Hill and Kryterion, as well as others, the service allows the instructor to review footage in cases where cheating might have occurred. And its usefulness is not restricted to tests; using the technology for quizzes, group projects and other activities gives professors an additional window into their students’ work process.

Browser lockdowns

Though a webcam with a watchful proctor on the other end can certainly catch many kinds of cheating, it cannot see perhaps the most popular method — Google. A service like Respondus locks down browsers so that students can only see what is necessary to complete the test. Of course, students can circumvent the technology fairly easily using a browser on their phones or another computer, or even just talking to a friend in the room. But coupling it with remote proctoring technology, as many universities have already done, could resolve many of the issues with cheating that online education faces.

 Keystroke pattern recognition

On the more high-tech side of things is software that can accurately identify students by their typing patterns. Such technology — which, according to research from Pace University, is accurate 99.5 percent of the time — essentially eliminates the possibility of somebody else taking a test for a student. Students can still be fed answers, but again, if paired with the webcam, the browser control, or both, it can be extremely effective in thwarting cheaters.

Plagiarism detection technology

Plagiarism has been around far longer than any online class, and the obstacles in combating it are not so different in an online setting. Brick-and-mortar schools have used technology to weed out plagiarism for years now, and online course providers have followed suit. For example, 2U, which partners with several leading universities to provide masters degrees, uses TurnItIn to monitor student work. But others have learned the hard way. After dozens of plagiarism incidents were reported on its platform last summer, Coursera said it was considering implementing plagiarism technology software. TurnItIn is the most widely used program — it received more than 60 million submissions last year — but there are other similar services, including PlagiarismDetect and Viper.

Claire Perlman

Claire Perlman is a senior at UC Berkeley who covers Technapex's higher education beat. She is majoring in English literature and worked at her college’s student newspaper, The Daily Californian, for two years as a science reporter and news editor. She is currently working at UC Berkeley’s Mark Twain Project transcribing Twain’s letters and unpublished manuscripts.

More Posts

About Claire Perlman

Claire Perlman is a senior at UC Berkeley who covers Technapex's higher education beat. She is majoring in English literature and worked at her college’s student newspaper, The Daily Californian, for two years as a science reporter and news editor. She is currently working at UC Berkeley’s Mark Twain Project transcribing Twain’s letters and unpublished manuscripts.
  • http://twitter.com/navigateHighEd Uncharted Waters

    When the MOOC hype dies down – hopefully soon – we’ll focus our energies on solving some of the challenges of providing legitimate, secure, accessible, flexible learning opportunities to as many people as we can. Great to see these companies emerging and focused on solving some thorny issues…

  • Cameron Nichol

    You can’t take the cheating out of online learning unless you control the room, and the technology, and ensure they don’t take any additional items into the room. That means you need to use an approved space and have a breathing person on site to manage the invigilation process.
    This means is a testing centre.
    If you’re considering anything else you’re just kidding yourself.

  • DrPeril

    All of these could be circumvented with a silent iPhone running a chat program placed neatly behind the minitor & web cam. The only way to take the cheating out of online ed is to embrace the technologies and research tools that students will use in the real world — where it’s not called cheating, it’s called collaboration, research or being a “team player”.

  • http://twitter.com/IOEDU InnovationsOnlineEdu

    Part of the conversation should include a distinction between synchronous online instruction and asynchronous online courses. Cheating by identity theft is harder to accomplish in a virtual classroom where students and instructor log on in real time to engage in critical discourse. New assessments for 21st century learners who have access to e-resources should be generated. Students should have open access to resources on exams: exams should test synthesis of these resources and critical thinking skills. Instructors have to re-visit assessment in the 21st century and that is a good outcome of this issue: promoting higher level thinking skills in our students.