With the rise of technology has come the rise of online courses—and with that, cheating has become easier than ever. Now online courses are utilizing technology to try and prevent cheating—but it remains to be seen just how effective such strategies are.

Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can easily become an issue with under-monitored MOOCs and online courses.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) come with a wide array of benefits and issues.

Some universities are using webcams posted in the testing area, which in some cases can even be the student’s apartment. The webcam is positioned in such a way that the person monitoring can track eye movement to see how often the student looks off screen. Supposedly, such practices can determine if there is another person in the room. But in such a testing environment as a personal apartment, can a simple webcam prevent the use of cheat sheets or smartphones being used off camera?

Computer browsers can be locked and typing patterns can be analyzed to determine whether or not the same person who took the course is actually taking the test. Such practices rule among online universities seeking to validate online courses and diplomas.

The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not integrity can be upheld in an online setting as compared to a physical one. And while cheating does happen in physical classrooms with some frequency, the availability of cheating resources is much richer for the student using a computer with Internet.

Online courses Image: Alex (ahans) via Flickr

Do we have the technology to prevent cheating in online courses?
Image: Alex (ahans) via Flickr

“Security is incredibly important,” says William Dornan, who is CEO of Kryterion Inc., a test-monitoring service. “If it’s known that you can cheat, that completely dilutes the brand.”

With the rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), preventing cheating is more important than ever. MOOC classes can be thousands of students large and cheating can be particularly enticing to desperate students who don’t feel the pressure of so many eyes on them.

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