Reducing cheating in online exams needs to start young, says educator

Remote proctors are easily defeated, and with the demand for online test bank services that provide test answers on the rise, students are left wondering about the value of test scores.

One effective way to solve this problem is not to develop better anti-cheating systems but rather to invoke an appreciation for learning, said Nhon Ma, chief executive officer of Numerade, an online learning platform.

“Instilling in students at a young age this ability to develop this appreciation for the kind of disciplined approach to little bits of practice every single day goes a very long way to thwart any kind of need for cheating down the road,” said Ma.

To improve engagement, Numerade creates a personalized learning program using AI. It feeds the students with relevant resource materials based on their subject interests.

Many parts of Canada are still in the early stages of pandemic recovery. In these areas, most education institutions have switched to a fully online approach in the interim. While it decreased the chances of transmission, it increased the frequency of cheating.

This is a problem that ran rampant at the start of the pandemic last year. Many students were caught cheating on their take-home exams.

Educators had vastly different approaches to thwart cheating, but almost all of them used some form of online proctoring software. Their efficacy, however, is hotly debated. Even more so is their privacy risk.

Gwendolyn, a psychology and life sciences student at Queen’s University who did not wish to use their last name, noted that some students might stick notes to their monitors during an exam. To thwart these attempts, the university has added extra checks, including scanning the student’s working area and placing a mirror behind the laptop, in addition to the proctoring software.

But the students would simply shift their notes to other areas of the house and access them during washroom breaks.

Cheating both hurts learning and the education’s value. Because cheaters rely on notes rather than how well they’ve retained the knowledge, they can face challenges in later classes that use the current information as a foundation.

Ma said it’s natural for people to have the desire to seek an easy way out but criticized the test bank services.

“A lot of our competitors, they are implicitly promoting cheating, by putting up these hard paywalls, basically brokering answers to students. We believe that the huge disservice to students and society at large.

“You have to help the student give them the clues to get there. You got to give them the bread crumbs,” said Ma.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Tom Li
Tom Li
Telecommunication and consumer hardware are Tom's main beats at IT Business. He loves to talk about Canada's network infrastructure, semiconductor products, and of course, anything hot and new in the consumer technology space. You'll also occasionally see his name appended to articles on cloud, security, and SaaS-related news. If you're ever up for a lengthy discussion about the nuances of each of the above sectors or have an upcoming product that people will love, feel free to drop him a line at tli@itwc.ca.

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