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A friend recently showed me the syllabus for one of her classes, which is partially given online through the Sakai course management system. At the bottom was a section on course policies which stated, in part, that the “Academic Integrity policy is in full effect”. Apparently, this professor is giving online exams in Sakai. The policy goes on to state that not only is collaborative test-taking not allowed, but also that use of any resources (including a textbook) is not allowed. The policy states that use of electronic resources (“a second web browser”) is also not allowed, and that the course management system includes “features” to prevent “cheating” - enumerated as a time stamp for every answer.

To me at least, this shows not only an unrealistic outlook, but also a horrible lack of understanding about technology.

  1. Does this professor actually expect that he can have students taken an exam at home, on a computer, and none of them will Google an answer? If so, he should take some steps to actually prevent such actions - like having the students take the exam in a proctored environment. If not, what is the purpose of this intimidation?
  2. I know I’m not a programming wizard, but if someone can tell me the algorithm to determine whether or not a student is cheating - based solely on their answers and the submission time of each answer - I’d really like to be enlightened.

If professors want to administer exams online and prevent students from using any outside resources, it seems to me like the only way to realistically do this is to setup a human-proctored computer lab (perhaps University-wide at a number of locations, available for members of any class) that allows access only to HTTP/HTTPS for the course management system and nothing else. All the human proctor would have to do is sit in the room and make sure students aren’t looking in textbooks or conferring with each other.


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