Online Education

One of the big problems with online modules is the examining. How do we avoid cheating if students take exams online? This problem is still unsolved.

There was an article on the BBC website about it today.

It brings up the question of whether we need humans to correct homework or exams, or whether machines can do the correction. And obviously, if we use multiple choice exams then a machine can do the corrections.

In mathematics, as I wrote in a previous post, certain things can be tested by multiple choice exams.  We can test skills at performing various operations. With a little more thought we can test some understanding of concepts as well. For proper examinations, where questions require a combination of concept understanding and skills, it is hard to see how a machine can correct the exams. If humans are to correct the exams, how can we have thousands of students taking the exam? And if we do, where will the people to correct the exams come from?

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4 thoughts on “Online Education

  1. Pingback: Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » Online Education

  2. Facilitating cheating students isn’t a bug of the system. It’s a feature. You are labouring under the illusion that any of the powers that be care in the slightest what people learn. They don’t. They care about giving the appearance of an educated workforce, whatever about the reality. Cheating and grade inflation are integral parts of this strategy.

    • The powers that be do care about income generation. That’s the whole reason for this. If cheating is rife, or has the appearance of being rife, people will not trust the qualification and numbers will drop. Income drops.
      We know there is a small amount of cheating (see here for example) but it’s not rife.

      • Small amount of cheating?!? Step away from the crack pipe. Cheating is absolutely endemic in Irish universities. Here’s the game as it’s played:

        1. Go to class as rarely as possible.
        2. Read as little as possible (other than Facebook).
        3. Never let university work interfere with the main job: socialising and partying.
        4. When it comes time to write an essay or study for an exam, crib everything you can off the internet, never mind the source.
        5. Regurgitate anything that seems remotely close to “the answer” and always assume that every question is a narrowly factual one rather than something requiring thought. Never engage with anything intellectual: who cares about that stuff?

        I reckon about 5% of the students I see are truly prepared for university. Even the very best students I see are weak compared to students elsewhere. The rest range from the barely educable and the half-literate to the hopeless. Fewer than half attend classes with anything approaching dedication. Their primary focus is social life and everything else will take a back seat to that. And a majority have no problem cheating because they know that, even if they get caught, the university will not enforce its official policy on plagiarism, which calls for expulsion. At worst, they’ll get a lower grade in the course concerned.

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