Cheating on online exams (a speculation)

In Open Source Assessment I wrote a reply to Stephen Downes’ ideas about open source assessment and open source course design. One of the advantages of the thread he started is the assessment ideas are relatively “cheat proof.” I was reminded of this issue because of an incident we have been investigating from the close of the last semester – during Finals week our WebCT server suffered a crash and in the logs were many connections to the chat port. I speculated (now refuted) that students where chatting concurrent with working on their exam. (Turns out that the chat port is also used by an innocent “who’s online” function.)

But the speculation stands:

  • Facebook offers twelve 3rd party applications under the “Chat” heading including “WalkieTalkie gives each Facebook group a dedicated voice channel. Just push and talk.”
  • Facebook facilitates students making groups associated with their class.
  • And students are online concurrently during a high-stakes online exam.

Now, maybe using Facebook to cheat with your classmates is too brazen, and so students opt to exchange IM names and to message one-on-one, but they are online concurrently during an exam, and often at unproctored locations, so the potential must have been recognized by at least some students.

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One Response to “Cheating on online exams (a speculation)”

  1. One small step for man » Blog Archive » Cheating: an arms race between students and faculty Says:

    […] Cheating on online exams I speculated that students might use any of many synchronous communication channels to cheat during […]

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