All entries for Monday 13 February 2006

February 13, 2006

I'M(ac) Watching You

Writing about web page

How serious is the risk of cheating when computer-aided assessment (CAA) is used in summative mode (i.e. for module credit)? Attitudes within the Warwick Science Faculty vary widely: The Chemists are laid back, in Biological Sciences there are some strong individual concerns, the Statistics Dept is united in enforcing a strict 'zero tolerance' policy.

Although I believe the safeguards against cheating I discussed here are proportionate and reasonably robust, yet tighter measures are needed to keep everyone on side. Here are a couple of further ideas:

  • My suggestion of CCTV cameras in computer workrooms reserved for summative assessment evoked an unenthusiastic response from those that hold the purse strings. So how about dummy cameras instead (real cameras, I mean, just not wired up to any monitoring system — surely cheap to install if recycled from an upgrade elsewhere in the system)?

  • iMacWhat about an all-seeing eye in each monitor that attaches a set of random mug-shots to the file a student submits when completing a piece of summative assessment — a dozen or so compressed snaps taken at random intervals during a 50-minute test should provide ample evidence of any cheating. If Apple can build iSight into their latest iMac design, it shouldn't be too many years before Windows PCs follow suit.

I'd welcome readers' suggestions for practical and effective CAA security.

February 2006

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