Cheap delivery methods and advancing technology have created a boom in the popularity of online education over the past ten years. In the fall semester of 2010, over 6 million students took at least one class online, according to a survey by Babson Survey Research Group. However, this popularity does not come without challenges. As the number of students taking online classes rises, so does student cheating.
The Problem of Cheating
Online education provides many opportunities for students to cheat on exams that would not be feasible in a classroom setting. Students may meet in the same place and share textbooks and test answers during an online exam. Alternatively, a student may take the test first so he or she can share the questions and correct answers with others before they sit down to test. While this is an issue, many proponents of online education are quick to point out that academic dishonesty has always been a college problem, even in traditional classrooms.
What Schools Are Doing
Online colleges and universities are taking various steps to curb student cheating in classes. Many schools are using systems that change up questions and answers so that each text experience is different. When this happens, students may take the exam in the same room, but they will find it very difficult to share answers.
Plagiarism is also a big problem with online students. Although much of this is accidental, many students buy already published papers, thinking that it is a good way to avoid the work. Colleges and universities, including those online, are using sophisticated software that can detect any plagiarism, regardless of how subtle it is. Programs like Turnitin allow for online grading and plagiarism prevention that make it very difficult for students to recycle Internet content or to share work with others.
As online education continues to evolve, there are sure to be more safeguards in place to prevent academic dishonesty among students. Schools are likely to rely more heavily on testing centers, webcam proctoring, and other measures to ensure that students complete the work they need to get the education they are paying for.