Last week MIT published an interesting working paper about a new methode of cheating in open courses. They named the method “copying answers using multiple existences online” (CAMEO):
In this method of cheating, a user creates multiple accounts, one of which is the primary account that will ultimately earn a certificate. The other accounts are used to find or “harvest” the correct answers to assessment questions for the master account.
The easiest solution to prevend this is to randomize questions or to create questions with randomized parameters. These techniques are easy to employ in STEM courses, but much harder in other courses. The test system of edx (and other mooc providers) are still very basic and more mature test systems (such as Maple TA and QuestionMark Perception) already have much more advanced possibilities to prevend this.
Interesting is that they also found cultural differences:
The strategy is mostly used by learners outside the U.S. While only 0.4 percent of the learners in the U.S. earned their certificates by using multiple accounts, 12 percent of learners in Albania did. Indonesia, Serbia, Colombia and China rounded out the list of the top five countries with the highest rates, registering at between 4 and 2 percent.
Receiving Credits for a MOOC
The problem above is why not a lot of colleges and universities are accepting MOOCs for credits. Exams have to be proctored to count for credit. Personally, I think we should invest more in alternative ways of assessment that better fit the online world.