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Online exam proctoring? Solving one problem of Massively Open Online Courses

I came across a recent post regarding proctoring during online exams (http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506346/in-online-exams-big-brother-will-be-watching/). As you might imagine, teachers face a legitimate problem of being assured that students taking online classes are not cheating. This solution?: startup firms that provide online proctoring using webcams and screen sharing technologies. The issue, this article claims, is precipitated by the surge in popularity of free online classes provided by some top schools. Some of these classes can even reach enrolments of hundreds of thousands!

Interestingly, the people hired by these proctoring firms are, themselves, students. Given that the goal is to reduce cheating — or at least the perception or possibility for cheating — I have no idea whether that should matter. Overall, the article claims a (known) cheating rate of 0.7% (7 out of every 1000) — a fair bit lower than typical class rooms, I would bet. And while expectation of privacy is appropriately low during a typical classroom exam, one would not think that online monitoring with a webcam should not violate any social norms.

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