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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Educators discover new ways that students cheat on MOOCs

"Paper describes ways to detect two major methods." reports Abby Abazorius, MIT NEWS OFFICE.

Photo: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

While the proliferation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has expanded learning opportunities for individuals around the world, the digital classroom is also subject to many of the same issues as the traditional one, such as cheating.

In a new working paper, researchers at MIT and Harvard University identify a new method of cheating specific to open online courses and recommend a number of strategies that prove effective in preventing such cheating.

The working paper, “Detecting and Preventing ‘Multiple-Account’ Cheating in Massive Open Online Courses,” was published today on, an online repository for electronic preprints.

Isaac Chuang — a professor of electrical engineering and physics, senior associate dean of digital learning at MIT, and one of the authors of the working paper — explains that he and his colleagues were inspired to examine the problem in an effort to better understand all the opportunities that online courses provide, including both learning and cheating.

“If learners in some online courses are circumventing the learning process and obtaining certification without going through the traditional routes of assessment and feedback, then the certification does not necessarily imply that they learned anything. This could seriously devalue MOOC certification,” Chuang says. “This is a well-known issue in academics, and it’s happening in a new ways in online settings. We want to understand and address this issue as online education continues to grow.”

Andrew Ho, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an author of the working paper, adds that the paper describes “a new cheating technique that is particular to MOOCs. It is enabled by specific design features, including the ability to create multiple accounts for free. This is a method of cheating that allows you to acquire a certification for a course in an hour, which is not possible through conventional cheating approaches. This is cheating of a different kind.”

Source: The MIT Tech