The most recent survey of faculty attitudes on technology produced for Inside Higher Ed details the 2015 responses to multiple aspects of educational technology use, online learning, and social media effects on academia. The responses come from 2,175 faculty members and 105 academic technology administrators.
Colleges and universities have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on technology they believe will improve student outcomes and simplify administrative tasks. Educational technology companies continue to demolish investment records on a quarterly basis. With all this money raised and spent under the guise of improving postsecondary education, the 2015 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology suggests that many instructors believe the gains in student learning justify the costs — even if the results are perhaps less significant than desired.
A white paper produced by Clemson University and Software Secure (RPNow) presenting the use of RPNow for proctoring services to help grow online learning programs at the university.
“I believe that in many cases – academic integrity is kind of the red herring of online education. At the same time, we’ve got questions from legislators and accreditors that want to know what we’re doing to protect academic integrity. I think this is a great way of demonstrating we’re putting a requirement and solution in place – without overburdening any one person or group.”
Witt Salley, Chief Online Officer
In August, UPCEA and OLC sent a letter about online learning to the leadership of the House Committee on Education and Workforce as well as the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in response to recent public statements which appear to question the integrity of online education.
As early as 2010, a Department of Education meta-analysis of research into the relative effectiveness of online and classroom-based learning put to rest any remaining question that what goes on in a classroom is inherently superior to what can be accomplished online; indeed, that study, and others that have followed, indicate that online learning is often superior in achieving measurable learner outcomes2. To question the inherent “integrity” and “quality” of online learning in 2015 is simply unsupported by overwhelming evidence.
UPCEA and OLC Joint Letter to Congress, August 28, 2015.
This article addresses recent research of student behavior through an analysis of data from 1.9 million course participants in 115 MOOCs offered by HarvardX and MITx from fall 2012 to spring 2015. In a small number of cases, the researchers uncovered a unique from of cheating, that can be stopped by a few simple steps.
The researchers are ultimately hoping that course content creators will put some of the prevention strategies in place. “One of the most interesting lessons from the paper is that there are ways to mitigate cheating that are straightforward and implementable by the teams creating online course content,” Chuang said. “We also expect platform improvements, such as virtual proctoring, to help reduce cheating.”
Dian Schaffhauser, “Research Uncovers MOOC Cheating Strategy,” Campus Technology, August 26, 2015.
Tara García Mathewson, “With increased video use comes greater copyright concerns for higher ed: From the use of stock footage to audio clips, students and faculty face intellectual property concerns” EducationDIVE, July 29, 2015.
The question for colleges and universities is what role they should be obliged to play in educating faculty and students about copyright laws in the first place. And then, as video becomes even more entrenched, what role should they play in providing a royalty-free catalog of content?
This article points to the growing challenge of using video, and other digital media, by faculty and students at U.S. colleges and universities, while following the rules so that digital content is “fairly sourced.” Institutions and private companies are seeking ways to help faculty and students find and use digital media while meeting copyright and fair use standard.
Dennis Berkey and Jay Halfond, “Cheating, Student Authentication and Proctoring in Online Programs.” New England Journal of Higher Education, July 20, 2015.
Educators in conjunction with UPCEA and WCET created a survey to learn more about what was being done about cheating in online programs, and how technology itself is being used in solutions.
By far the most frequently cited means of ensuring program integrity, specifically the deterrence of cheating, was reliance on honor codes or clearly articulated institutional policies. Three-quarters of these online leaders felt that establishing, articulating and enforcing such policies provided the essential foundation for online integrity, if not fully satisfactory solutions.
Natasha Singer, “Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare,” New York Times, April 5, 2015.
Once her exam started, Ms. Chao said, a red warning band appeared on the computer screen indicating that Proctortrack was monitoring her computer and recording video of her. To constantly remind her that she was being watched, the program also showed a live image of her in miniature on her screen.
Even for an undergraduate raised in a culture of selfies and Skype, Ms. Chao found the system intrusive. “I felt it was sort of excessive,” she said.
Examining recent efforts by Rutgers University to require virtual proctoring in online courses, the author considers the challenges of technology aimed at impeding academic dishonesty in online class activity. Issues of intrusiveness, cost, and privacy protection are raised, and remain unresolved, as universities struggle to create appropriate practices and policies.