People often ask me if I am worried that people will cheat in my online courses. The question of academic honesty is a good one and one that is not exclusive to any particular environment. It has always been my position that it will be online technologies that deter cheating more than anything we've ever seen. I believe that as our technology matures it will be more difficult to cheat online than it would be to cheat in a physical classroom. If you know anyone that is in high school or college, ask them how difficult it is to cheat and how many people they think cheat. Ask them how students do it. I assure you the numbers will be high and their techniques will be pretty innovative. Regardless of the environment, cheaters find ways to cheat. Personally, I think that if they applied their innovative spirit for discovering new ways to cheat to thinking critically about coursework, they would probably be quite successful. I also blame teachers that design extremely boring courses that rely too heavily on purely quantitative forms of assessment, but that is a different post all together.
In a previous post about University 2.0, I briefly discussed how online technologies would deter cheating more than ever before, and the following article by CNN describes how this is being done currently. "The new development is a small Web cam and microphone that is set up where a student takes the exam. The camera points into a reflective ball, which allows it to capture a full 360-degree image." I believe this is one of the first of many innovations to come in curbing cheating in any environment. Just like cheaters will have to come up with new ways of cheating, people that are anti-online education will have to find new reasons to hate on it. Read the full article. http://www.cnn.com/2007/EDUCATION/06/19/online.testing.camera.ap/index.html