How do students cheat in online exams?

There is no way around it, students cheat. They have always cheated and they will continue to cheat and Coronavirus has made it even easier for them to get away with it.

Many institutes were forced to move online without much preparation or planning due to the sudden and devastating introduction of coronavirus. Bustling campuses turned into empty lifeless fear factories and everyone was at home and online. Universities and colleges had to quickly step up their technical and IT requirements so students could continue on with their studies as soon as possible. It was now normal to take all your classes online, and your Learning Management System (LMS) e.g. Moodle, Canvas, Blackboard… became your new best friend and all your classwork and assessments were now online. Once students felt comfortable studying online, then the next hurdle was introduced….online exams.

Universities and colleges had to ask themselves. How do we run exams with everyone at home? How do we make sure academic integrity is upheld? How do we maintain the quality of our assessments? How do we detect cheating? With so many things to consider institutes had a tough job on their hands.

Students were no longer sitting in a large exam hall in rows of desks with live invigilators walking the aisles making sure students weren’t on their phones, sharing notes or writing formulas on their arms. They were at home with the world at their finger tips with access to books, notes, phones, WhatsApp, the internet. It would be so easy to cheat! Why wouldn’t you?

If your exam isn’t proctored or invigilated it is very easy to cheat. There is literally no-one watching you. The only way to ensure academic integrity in online exams is to have them invigilated remotely. Invigilation means to supervise students at an examination, but when using software, it means so much more. IRIS Invigilation software records students for the full duration of their exam and also records their screen activity and audio.

Remote proctoring and invigilation software is a deterrent not an outright solution. Students can still get around invigilation software but it does make it harder. There are three types of students; the first student never even thought about cheating and will never, the second type of student will simply not cheat as they know they are being watched, but the third student is the one we really need to watch out for, they will do anything to cheat and will always try to find a way around the system. Here are some techniques students use to cheat in online assessments and exams:

* Chatting on WhatsApp with fellow students
* Making use of professional cheating websites during the exam e.g sending them questions in real time and receiving answers back.
* Using a screen sharing app to record the exam to share with others and perhaps make money
* Having a second laptop on the desk next to you
* Using a calculator
* Having your notes in front of you and referring to them in a closed book exam
* Taking your exam with someone else in the room feeding you answers
* Taking the exam with a fellow student in the room and colluding
* Talking to someone using a discrete headset
* Having someone else take your test/exam

What a lot of students don’t realise is that proctoring software such as IRIS Invigilation software can see everything and is recording everything you do. Firstly, IRIS uses AWS facial recognition to face match your photo ID so it’s tricky if you want your friend to take your test for you. IRIS records your screen activity and has proof that you were on WhatsApp, they can see you reading your Moodle notes, they can see when you screen share. IRIS can see when you open a Google tab, they know what time you did it and see which websites you visited. IRIS can hear you talking to your cousin, they have recorded your conversation. IRIS tracks your head and eye movement so they know if you are looking at another screen.

Is it really worth getting caught and risking your education? Do you want to have to repeat units or even worse get kicked out of university? It’s something to think about but again, cheaters will always exist. It will be interesting to see what ingenious methods they come up in the future as invigilation software continues to change and modify to keep up with them.