7 Ideas to Reduce Cheating in Online Environments

stopping online cheatingAs we monitor the world of learning and the shifts that are resulting from COVID-19, one of the reports we are seeing is that there is an increased need for teachers to implement new strategies to help deter cheating. While cheating has always been a challenge, with nobody there to monitor them some students may struggle with the temptation to cheat more than they would if they were in the physical classroom.

We all know that the long term effects of cheating are not just about learning, but also about a student’s self-esteem. Cheating lowers their sense of self-respect, as well as their reputation with others if they are found out. Taking the shortcuts that cheating offers can move a student towards losing an overall sense of personal integrity, so that dishonesty begins to bleed into many areas of their lives. And then of course, there is the impact on learning, since so many subjects build one concept on top of another.

If you are seeing students scoring higher than they have historically, that may be an indication that questions need to be asked. Meanwhile though, what can you do as the primary educator to help mitigate the opportunities for students to cheat? We did a bit of research and have a few ideas pulled together that may help.

Here are 7 ideas to discourage and prevent cheating:

Idea #1: Actively discourage cheating in the classroom

This is partly about the culture that you create. If you can incorporate some lessons about the value of learning and how cheating will ultimately damage the students, you can begin giving them the tools to not only self-monitor, but also influence each other. Talk about character development and maybe consider having the class work together to create some kind of a “code of conduct” or “honor code” that they all sign off on. This works great with older students, but it can even work for younger grades.

Idea #2: Be honest with them

Sometimes it is important for students to know that you realize how very easy it is to cheat in a virtual classroom. Telling them up front things like “okay, let’s be honest…of course you could text your friend the answer, or message them a picture of your work, but how do you learn or grow from that? How does your friend learn and grow?” Just letting them know that you are savvy enough to know the tools they have that make cheating easier can launch conversations about character and thinking longer term than the grade or test in front of them.

Idea #3: Control the chat function

Many online platforms allow direct communication between people within the online meeting. Pay attention to this and make sure that during tests or quizzes, the chat features are turned off so that students can communicate only with you, and not with each other.

Idea #4: Cameras on during tests

Making sure that your students have their cameras turned on during tests can help deter them from cheating. Even though it isn’t as simple as walking by a desk, just knowing you can see them will keep many students in check.

Idea #5: Ask Students to explain their thinking

While quick multiple choice questions may make life a bit easier, creating assessments and assignments that force a student to think critically and explain themselves and their thought process can also mitigate cheating. It’s pretty hard to cheat if you require them to go beyond the answer to their process.

Idea #6: Create more than one version of a test

If you can, create several versions of a test on specific material. From simply reordering the questions, to asking slightly different ones, having multiple versions of a test can help discourage students from texting their answers to each other.
 

Idea #7: Use your tech tools effectively

While schools have a variety of programs they are using to facilitate online learning, knowing what you have can make a big difference. For example, Google classroom lets teachers change settings so students can’t open other windows during a test, providing at least one small barrier. Of course they could use another device, and nothing will provide a full guarantee, but knowing what you have at your disposal can help you design your strategies as effectively as possible.

The world of online teaching presents new opportunities for educators and students alike. There is an old saying that locks are only there to keep honest people honest. The same may be said of many of the suggestions above, but as educators our job is to do all within our power to help guide and shape our students towards becoming productive members of society. Helping to reinforce what they are hopefully learning at home and about honesty and personal integrity is one of the great joys and challenges of teaching. COVID-19 hasn’t changed this, it has simply added new layers that force new approaches. 

 

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