Evidence of MOOC Students Using Multiple Accounts to Harvest Correct Answers
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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) give “honor certificates” of accomplishment for successful completion of their courses. In part because these certificates are given without any verification of the identity of the student, such tokens have little professional value – they would seem to have value mostly for personal reasons. However, although the value of the certificates is not clear, we have found that a substantial number of students do not obey the code of honor, but apparently are using multiple accounts to harvest the correct answers for questions that they later submit with their main account. This is enabled because most MOOCs provide an instant feedback about the correctness of a student’s answers. In this paper we present evidence for, and detailed patterns of such behavior; we then briefly discuss ways to prevent it. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to report on this type of cheating in MOOCs. The topic of academic dishonesty in online learning environments was addressed by various studies, see for example [1-3], but in the context of MOOCs research, it still did not get a lot of attention. We believe that it is very important to discuss the various aspects of this sensitive issue, as if it is not handled properly, it can jeopardize the value of MOOCs as academic credentials.