Jul 12 2017
Data Analytics

Universities Use Analytics, Authentication to Prevent Cheating in Online Courses

New technology keeps students honest when taking online tests.

In college classrooms, detecting cheating can sometimes be as simple as catching a student looking at someone else’s exam. But for online educators, who may have students in various corners of the country, catching cheating on an exam, assignment or essay is a lot more difficult.

Thanks to digital tools with elements of analytics and online proctoring, universities can keep cheating at bay.

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Harnessing Analytics to ID Cheating Patterns

In higher education, data analytics has emerged as a useful tool to boost retention, create personalized courses and drive more efficient business decisions. With a new tool called examiDATA, schools can now use data to stop cheating.

eCampus News reports that the platform uses data from thousands of students at colleges and universities to gain insight into test-taking patterns, including test violations.

“The explosion of online education has allowed us to make huge strides in supporting a growing population of nontraditional students. However, data-driven approaches that shed light on macro trends in online test security remain nascent,” Dr. Lauren Cifuentes, Texas A&M director of distance education and learning technologies, tells eCampus News.

Other researchers are using data analytics to determine ways to tell if students have had advanced knowledge of test questions, i.e., they have cheated somehow.

Online Proctoring and Authorization Keep Tests Honest

Online proctoring services have doubled in the last five years as more students enroll in online courses, Inside Higher Ed reports.

At Western Governors University, 30,000 exams are proctored online each month. To take an online-proctored exam, students use a computer with an external web camera. Using videoconferencing tools, proctors can ensure that the real student is taking the test and not using any material to cheat.

Some proctor services authenticate the test-taker by scanning a photo of the student’s ID and face, while others record video of the student taking the test and review the footage later.

Inside Higher Ed reports that some proctors even monitor the student and his or her environment for sounds, motions and other changes.

Adel Lelo, senior manager of assessment solutions at WGU, tells Inside Higher Ed that online proctoring also allows the university to offer students more flexible test times, an important factor for some nontraditional students.

“There is no such thing as a perfect testing method, including at testing locations. All we can do is to make it more difficult to cheat, while making testing as accessible as possible,” says Lelo.


Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.