Online classes see cheating go high-tech

A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education points out some disconcerting news:

“Easy As may be even easier to score these days, with the growing popularity of online courses. Tech-savvy students are finding ways to cheat that let them ace online courses with minimal effort, in ways that are difficult to detect.

Take Bob Smith, a student at a public university in the U.S. This past semester, he spent just 25 to 30 minutes each week on an online science course, the time it took him to take the weekly test. He never read the online materials for the course and never cracked open a textbook. He learned almost nothing. He got an A.

His secret was to cheat, and he’s proud of the method he came up with—though he asked that his real name and college not be used, because he doesn’t want to get caught. It involved four friends and a shared Google Doc, an online word-processing file that all five of them could read and add to at the same time during the test.”

The article goes on to describe the problem in greater depth, and points out what instructor are doing to counteract.

I don’t think I would worry too much if I were the instructor. Sooner or later these students’ lack of knowledge will come back to bite them.