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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sher Downing, Executive Director of Online Academic Services at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University (Part 5)

Posted on Tuesday, Mar 25th 2014

Sramana Mitra: What about examining and testing? Especially, where you’re running full-fledged online programs, how do you handle testing?

Sher Downing: We have actually been trying out a number of products in the last year and have purposely focused on avoiding issues of plagiarism and any type of cheating. We pride ourselves, on carrying the Carey name, on ethics. We teach ethics to all of our students, obviously. We work with companies that provide software that does make it very difficult, if not almost impossible, to cheat on an exam. We do look at what we have to use to ensure all of our student body is doing the right thing and that everyone is earning their grade and place based on their knowledge and effort.

The other thing that we do for online is look at what do we do in place of exams. Are there projects that meet the same criteria in terms of giving assessment feedback? Are there ways that we can provide different types of methodologies for faculty to provide a grading component without necessarily having to do just a run-of-the-mill check and balance exam? We really try to be proactive on it. We recognize that the amount of people who do try to go against the system are very small in comparison to those who truly want to do their very best and want to showcase their knowledge base. We want to assure them that we’re doing everything possible to assist them and in keeping the integrity of what they’re doing. We also want to ensure their knowledge base and experience. How you’re applying what you’re learning is sometimes beyond traditional exam.

Sramana Mitra: Would you be comfortable discussing some of these technologies and products in the market? We’ve recently talked to ProctorU, which is an online proctoring service. That’s one of the ways some of the online programs are managing cheating. Is that something that you’re using?

Sher Downing: We’re not using ProctorU. We have been piloting with Respondus Monitor. They have always been an online component. They have added video capabilities. The other system that we have used is called Beproctor. Beproctor actually came out of an entrepreneurial system here. It is now a separate company but they also do video monitoring while a student is taking an exam. We’ve been very pleased with the results of both systems. We have been able to monitor and catch if something seems really strange.

Majority of students are fine with it. We’ve received thank you notes. They’ve appreciated that we’ve made that type of an effort. We prepare students ahead of time letting them know that they will be videotaped while they’re taking the exam. Whatever the parameters are, we give those to them ahead of time. We remind them that we are watching. We do have tech support available if something goes wrong while taking the exam. We’ve found that students welcome the effort that we’re putting into this and the faculty is relieved. The number of issues has been very minimal as a result. People think twice when they recognize that we are putting forward this kind of effort.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sher Downing, Executive Director of Online Academic Services at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University
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