Credentials in the cloud: How will open online courses deal with plagiarism?
Monday, September 10, 2012/
Many are proclaiming 2012 is the year of the MOOC — Massive Open Online Course — thanks to the arrival of major players, edX, Udacity and Coursera all started by colleagues from elite American universities.
The courses are “massive” with sometimes tens of thousands of students and “open” (free to enrol) but one big unanswered question is how these courses intend to preserve their credibility in assessment and accreditation?
Not easily is the answer, and already there are reports of incidents of plagiarism in some MOOCs. So far the stakes are low, but what will happen when the chance to get academic credit or even a job tempt even the most scrupulous student?
Most MOOCs so far offer quizzes as their main form of assessment – short multiple-choice question and answers that are automated. Instructors, of course, cannot be sure who does the quiz but some MOOCs are now choosing other types of assessment that could be more open to foul play.
Coursera, for example, includes submission of essay style answers, graded through peer assessment, because, as the online service notes: “in many courses, the most meaningful assignments do not lend themselves easily to automated grading by a computer.” But of course, when you have thousands of students you have thousands of essay assignments which cannot be marked by one lecturer.
So Coursera has turned to crowd-sourced marking, and claims students can accurately give feedback to other students. This might be true if the assessment were in a traditional course, but with few consequences what’s to stop students from skewing the system?
In assessment, as in life, most people do the right thing, but there are still those who deliberately cheat. Coursera seems to be wide open on this, although they do ask every student to agree to an honour code every time they submit an essay assignment. But human nature being what it is, such statements do not deter scoundrels.
In its section on pedagogy, Coursera says it expects that “by having multiple students grade each piece of homework, we will be able to obtain grading accuracy comparable or even superior to that provided by a single teaching assistant.” But this claim needs scrutiny.
Be honest about your situation: How vulnerability helps businesses thrive Sue Parker DARE Group founder
Own it: The 10 things you need to do to manage your personal brand Lisa Stephenson Who Am I Projects founder
Six invaluable lessons: What 20 years in aged care taught me about being an entrepreneur Natasha Chadwick NewDirection Care founder
An entrepreneurial superpower: Eight tips to help develop resilience Adala Bolto ZADI Training co-founder
Going through a lull? Five areas you should invest in when sales drop Tamara Alaveras and Sonia Majkic 3 Phase Marketing co-founders
Stop telling us how busy you are, it's boring and charmless Ian Whitworth Scene Change co-founder
Blandification™ and the state of modern branding Jeffrey Oley The Offices co-founder
Why you should find the right role for the right person — not the other way around Bruce Stronge Outfit founder