Tag: ProctorU

Education’s Biggest Challenge: Tech Is Making Cheating Too Easy

By Scott McFarland, CEO, ProctorU.

Scott McFarland

Technology has unquestionably made teaching and learning better in many ways, accessibility and scale most notably. But it’s also made cheating, or academic dishonesty, incredibly easy and incredibly common.

Many people, even those employed in education, probably don’t fully realize exactly how common cheating has become. Three different, independent academic research studies on cheating, all released within the past year, separately described academic misconduct today as “widespread” and “commonplace” and “likely a common occurrence.” One recent academic research paper by professors at Radford University for example, says directly, “studies are increasingly reporting that academic dishonesty – in perception as well as self-reported behavior – is more common in online environments.”

It’s probably common sense that sending millions of students into online learning due to Covid-19 has turned that smoldering problem into a brushfire. In the past few weeks alone we’ve seen cheating scandals break out at West Point, the Air Force Academy, Texas A&M, the University of Oregon, University of Houston, and on and on. Based on our own data from millions of online exams, clear violations of test rules have increased 800% since the spring, when the pandemic set in.  

Honor Codes and Good Intentions Won’t Curb Cheating

As schools continue to realize that honor codes and good intentions alone won’t curb cheating, they’ve increasingly invested in tools and tactics to limit dishonesty. These include randomizing questions, setting exam time limits and using applications that limit or “lock down” Internet browsers to keep students from using Google or other sites. 

Those are a good start, probably mostly because they send a message to students that instructors take academic dishonesty seriously. Research shows that taking action to prevent cheating changes student perceptions and reduces the incentives to take shortcuts. Unfortunately, research also shows that even with lock-down browsers and time limits, students still cheat.

The Radford study found that “Despite a series of mitigation measures that were adopted without direct proctoring–such as the use of a special browser, a restricted testing period, randomized questions and choices, and a strict timer–it appears that cheating was relatively commonplace. Cheating apparently also paid off handsomely, at least when it comes to exam performance, often raising scores by about a lettergrade.”

That study found that even a recorded and reviewed proctoring solution, on top of those other techniques, significantly cut down on cheating. It seems the more risk involved in cheating, the greater the likelihood they could be caught, the less inclined students were to attempt misconduct. Again, this is logical. It’s the very reason why places such as banks and convenience stores have security cameras.

That’s a good analogy in that security cameras can deter bad actions but they cannot stop it in real time. It’s the difference between a security camera and a security guard. That’s where live test monitors add even more value, whether in person or remotely.

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How Schools Are Using Technology Responding To COVID-19

Photo of Michelle ReedResponses from Michelle Reed, online video strategist, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland Ohio.

How are school districts and colleges and universities responding to COVID-19?

At Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland Ohio, the Online Learning and Academic Technology (OLAT) team has been engineering their online learning environment for over 4 years now to move the college to a more mobile friendly and seamless way to offer online classes to students. With the college’s decision to switch to all online learning due to COVID-19, the structure was already there. The technology was in place. We did increased manpower for our SmartView help desk level 2 support system.

What technologies are they using to connect with students and even parents in an attempt to minimize the disruption? 

Tri-C is utilizing our currently engineered online learning technologies including Blackboard Learn (LMS), Mediasite (Lecture Capture), Webex (video conferencing), ProctorU (for proctored testing), Respondus (lock down browser), Qwickly (single hub distribution point in the LMS to post announcements, distribute content and create discussion topics)

What have been the results? What works? What only causes more friction?

We have had great success with our currently engineered technologies. We worked with our vendors to increase storage, licenses, users, etc., to accommodate the fact that we more than doubled the amount of classes and users in our online environment.

One area that we have seen as the most challenging is getting technology in faculty and students hands. Tri-C worked with faculty and staff to ensure they were equipped with technology and internet at home to telework. Tri-C teamed up with PCs for People (a nonprofit dedicated to getting computers and affordable internet service into the homes of low-income individuals. www.pcsforpeople.org) to provide computers to students.

Are your IT and service teams able to meet the need in the new era or have you been caught flat footed?

Our support team in ITS and in OLAT did not increase but we were prepared to bring in other areas of the college to help assist at a level two support with our SmartView Blackboard support cases. We have created video repositories to house training videos for the technologies our faculty and students are using.  This allows the support team to send one to three minute videos links that can address their concerns and give them a screencast of the process to follow which results in the increased amount of faculty that can be served.

We created a weekly training schedule that consists of training sessions on the hour, using Webex, to allow faculty the ability to connect in to learn and ask questions which are recorded for on-demand viewing. We have created an extensive online document that includes information faculty and students need, located all in one location.  We have also extended the hours that level 2 and level 3 support are available to meet the needs of faculty and students that are jumping into the use of the online tools that were mostly using the face-to-face modality.