MOOC cheating (model this)

From an email from Coursera:

Several students have contacted me about cases of cheating on the Final Exam. Frankly, why anyone who do this in a course that focuses on learning and offers no credentials, beats me. Students who cheat are really cheating themselves. If you are sure an answer is plagiarized from somewhere else (often easy to determine with a quick web search), you could simply award 1’s everywhere, which amounts to a score of 0. Whether you do that for one question or the whole exam is up to you. If there is any doubt that the student has broken the honor code, you have to give the student the benefit of that doubt. 0 on the whole exam is more significant than on one question. Though again, the stakes here are essentially zero; it’s mostly about self esteem, surely. For truly egregious cases, send me the details (your login id and the Student number (1, 2, or 3) and I can take it from there. Violation of the honor code is cause for expulsion from the class. Expulsion has occurred, in this class and others, I’m sad to say.

Meanwhile, if you want to know how evaluation training and peer grading looked from our side (the instruction team and the folks at Coursera who were making sure the ship stayed afloat), check out my latest post at to see what was going on behind the scenes. Enjoy! 🙂

I thank AA for the pointer.


Actually, the next model will be tiered credentials:

1. Self exam--certificate of completion;

2. Next Level: Proctored exam, where you pay for a credential and class rank.

3. Third level: Level 2 plus college credit and one more exam, or, if no college credit, a waiver of taking the equivalent introductory course and going on to more difficult classes.

Fourth level: being able to do the job your credential signals you're able to.

Fifth level: Charging you a finders fee to get the job.

I'm in a couple Coursera MOOCs. Of course one could cheat. The thing isn't set up for strict testing and credentialing at all. For a free course I think it's appropriate. What you take out is your choice and your self-discipline. I believe institutions that want to credential online courses add proctored testing. That's appropriate too. (I think everyone should take at least one MOOC get the feel. Perhaps for the best experience choose the 2nd or 3rd run of a well-respected course. First cohorts can be a little rough. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

BTW, barely connected to testing, Coursera isn't real great for people who join a class "late." I was surprised that there was such a fixed schedule, but perhaps it is a motivation for some, and perhaps it prevents speed daemons from "dropping the pack." To give away some secret sauce I'd use if I were building a MOOC engine, I'd try to make it a pipeline, and make your peers just other people at your current pace. MOOCs are young. Perhaps we'll see that in real next-gen solutions.

I agree with this. I was hoping to learn at my own pace. My life is too busy to take "real" classes so I thought I'd give a MOOC a try. I still did learn something though. I learned that I need to change up my schedule before I can make a serious run at getting my masters degree. That was a valuable enough lesson to make the effort I put forth worthwhile.

The whole point of Coursera & MOOC is that it is supposed to take off and crowd out all of B&M higher education. Today, their credential might not be worth very much, but if it does take off, it could be valuable in the future. So for people with less opportunity cost, spending a little time, cheating your way through one of these courses to get this certificate, might be worth it, since there is a positive prob. such a piece of paper might be worth something some day. If that weren't true, then there would be no point to the whole program.

I'm sure that there will ultimately be a mix, flesh and cloud classes. The interesting thing might be whether a dominant player, like Coursera, can be the cloud view at diverse campuses. I'd venture that 4 or 5 major hosting systems would be optimal, each with diverse catalogs but still provider competition. (The two levels of innovation are course design and MOOC engine design.)

Coursera is only the platform, not the product. The product is still being produced by the schools and the faculty within them. Coursera, though, by being selective in which schools or profs get to teach on its platform (unlike ITunesU or oercommons) does signal quality.

The rankings are worth something now. Instructors of certain courses have referred the top 10% of their classes to employers resulting in well paying jobs.

People cheat at board games. This is no different.

People are known to cheat when playing solitaire.

It's not cheating. I gave myself permission to bend the rules of solitaire a little bit ... then I forgot.

Dear @Thor: of course if you are just giving yourself permission to bend the rules , that's a completely different matter from cheating.

There's a cheat function on windows free cell

Devlin is an engaging personality and the illusion of a one-to-one relationship makes you want to impress/please him by seeming to do "A" work. I had to drop out of the course and I felt as if I had let him down! Seriously, it does feel as if you are a kid back in high school again with a teacher who cares whether or not you are understanding the material.

Probably the same reason people cheat in video games.

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