Isaac Chuang and Andrew Ho were looking at the data collected from student staking MOOCs all over the world when they found something odd, The Boston Globe writes . It turned out that some users were answering multiple-choice questions “faster than humanly possible”.
Chuang (MIT) and Ho (Harvard) found their results while analyzing data from 1.9 million course participants in 115 Harvard and MIT MOOCs from 2012 to 2015. They found 69 courses in which users appeared to have cheated using the multiple-profile method, known as CAMEO cheating (copying answers using multiple existences online).
According to Andrew Ho, CAMEO cheating is a “a new cheating technique that is particular to MOOCs. It is enabled by specific design features, including the ability to create multiple accounts for free. This is a method of cheating that allows you to acquire a certification for a course in an hour, which is not possible through conventional cheating approaches. This is cheating of a different kind.”
The researchers discovered that in 69 of the examined courses where users were found to have been employing the CAMEO strategy, 1.3 percent of the certificates earned (1,237 certificates) appeared to have been obtained through such cheating. Especially with users that had obtained over twenty certificates the cheating rates turned out even higher.
There are several strategies to cope with this kind of cheating, the researchers say. For example, questions could be randomized, so each students receives a customized set of problems. This kind of strategies might turn out to limit the opportunities of online learning, Chuang notes. “We may face a tradeoff between enabling learning and preventing cheating,”
The original paper can be found here