#CFHE12 #Oped12 A reflection of MOOCs Part 4:The number one challenge in education – Cheating

I was appalled by what this post tells us about – stories of cheating.  Test taking by others is a cheating scandal that would damage education’s reputation.

Cheating in research is also on the rise.

In this post on MOOC cheating:

Frankly, why anyone who do this in a course that focuses on learning and offers no credentials, beats me. Students who cheat are really cheating themselves. If you are sure an answer is plagiarized from somewhere else (often easy to determine with a quick web search), you could simply award 1′s everywhere, which amounts to a score of 0.

Cheating could be the number one biggest problem for MOOCs as I have shared in my posts here and here.

I reckon there aren’t many formal researches (at or above PhD level) done on this cheating and plagiarism as yet, as it could be both sensitive and overly “destructive” for educators and institutions to realize.

However, if this cheating is allowed in MOOCs, then how could we be confident in giving credits to those who have done the MOOCs?

Isn’t cheating and plagiarism a WICKED PROBLEM?  No one likes it, but we don’t know how to handle it, when it is not easily and fully under the control of the MOOCs providers.  Jenny once said that educational change is a wicked problem.  I have also shared my views on those wicked problems.

What do you think about cheating and plagiarism?

What are some of your suggestions and solutions to these problems?

Postscript: A good reference paper here.

Another good research reference paper here.


#Change11 Technology, Changes, Wicked problems and Identity

What is the impact of technology on education policy? Here Rich says in his post:

Who’s missing? People who should be getting comfortable with the disruptive forces in higher education. There are almost no university administrators or technology managers.   EDUCAUSE is nowhere to be seen.  There are dozens of websites that devoted to studying and commenting on policy issues, but if they are aware of Change11, they are silent about it.

Is Change11 or MOOC-fication the wave of the future? Probably not.  It’s an experiment.

Why?  Isn’t it a huge challenge for administrators and technology managers to comment on the policy issues, and technological changes needed to advance and innovate in open spaces?  What are the problems that administrators and technology managers are trying to solve in their institutions?  There are even urges for reforms in universities.  There are also big and small fixes in higher education, where big fixes relate to policy changes and small fixes relate to technology innovation.

May be what MOOC is trying to tackle are the Wicked Problems associated with some of the big and small fixes in higher education, Social Complexity, and the affordance and disruption of technology and the impacts on distance education, training and networked learning.

The more I explored about the wicked problems, the more I started to question the assumptions behind the problems and solution to distance education and networked learning.

Here Nancy Roberts concluded that:

We learn that wicked problems are socially defined so that getting the “whole system in the room” to enable people to learn from one another is very useful. And given the constraints and complexity of crisis situations, social learning is more likely to be successful if it remains as self-organizing, complex adaptive system that co-evolves as stakeholders meet, interact, and inform one another’s actions.  Ultimately, we learnt that to lead, facilitate and participate in such collective undertakings require an act of faith.  It begins with the hope that there is a better way of doing things, a recognition that failure is possible, and a willingness to ‘ trust the process’ without guarantees of a particular outcome.

Other wicked problems raised relating to the education and technology include:

  • Declining attention span
  • Lack of critical thinking
  • Fragmentation of information and learning
All these problems also relate to changes necessary in education and learning.

Learning about change is not always comfortable for people, as Jenny put it so well in finding and losing your voice in the collective that I found it resonating. “I think the actual binding (particularly if that binding is going to be long-term) has to be at a deeper and more individual level. Whilst the collective may be made up of a whole array of resources, it is also made up of individuals, whose learning will be determined by their perceptions of their individual identities in relation to the collective.” I shared my views on individual identity here.

#Change11 The challenges of technology on education system and the wicked problems

Here is my response to Bonnie’s comments on my previous post.

Thanks Bonnie for your insights. Yes: “we seem both more connected and fractured, to me, at a global society level, than we know how to deal with.”

The more connected people are, the more complex the relationship becomes. The learning that emerged from connective knowledge sharing and collective knowledge from networks challenges the status quo of the prescriptive and canonical knowledge structure once hailed as the only few routes towards the development of knowledge workers and knowledge nation. This seems unforgiving to a knowledge management framework and infra-structure where knowledge is known, and problems could be solved using a linear or systematic process.  Such education system and canonized  knowledge has heavily been exploited and valued as a commodity in a commercialized world of institutions.

The education system that we once cherished has been founded on an economic funding model, based on mass education, cost effectiveness and education efficiency for the particular nation, where a centralized education system is valued and mandated, and accreditation of education would only be granted if the course and curriculum are quality assured.  The current paper on Quality Assurance in Asian Distance Education: Diverse Approaches and Common Culture well illustrates the importance of quality assurance relating to distance education in those countries.

Now these paradoxes surfaced out of the education system posted new questions and challenges relating to (a) the values of traditional testing of knowledge based on rote learning, (b) the adequacy of grouping students, subjects against fixed curriculum, (c) the impact of new technology and social media on the nature and structure of formal education – in particular Higher Education, (d) the authenticity of learning at school with a curriculum based on content knowledge, with subject structure of – language and literacy, numeracy and mathematics, science, and information technology, arts and religion etc. (e) the need for new media literacies and their application in our daily life, or that in study or at work, in response to the changing needs and expectations from all those concerned – including employers, colleagues, customers, educators and peers, (f) the development of metacognitve, critical thinking and sensemaking skills that are often required to solve complicated and complex problems, individually and collectively, with technology as an affordance.

So, what might have led to these paradoxes?  What causes the problems and challenges?

We don’t seem to have the answers to these questions and challenges.  I don’t think we have quite understood the fundamental causes of each of those issues yet, mainly because they are all paradoxically inter-related, where the factors causing the problems are not linearly related, but super-imposed upon each others – the wicked problems.

The wicked problems and social complexity provides some clues – the forces of fragmentation could be the forces that challenge collective intelligence, not only in groups in organisation, but also in networks.  Compare this with the typical problem solving approach as outlined here.

“Fragmentation suggests a condition in which the people involved see themselves as more separate than united, and in which information and knowledge are chaotic and scattered.  The fragmented pieces are, in essence, the perspectives, understandings, and intentions of the collaborators. Fragmentation, for example, is when the stakeholders in a project are all convinced that their version of the problem is correct.  Fragmentation can be hidden, as when stakeholders don’t even realize that there are incompatible tacit assumptions about the problem, and each believes that his or her understandings are complete and shared by all.”

The antidote to fragmentation is shared understanding and commitment. In the case of networked and collective learning, it also requires forms of curation and aggregation – both on the fragmented resources collected and conversation held all over the places, in order to make sense, and to form a more coherent response to the problem statement.  This would then be shared through further conversation, by redefining the problem, analyzing the data, developing alternative options and solutions, followed by implementation of solutions.  The use of wikis and google documents are typical examples to illustrate the crowdsourcing solutions to such problems.

“Social complexity makes wicked problems even more wicked, raising the bar of collaborative success higher than ever.

Because of social complexity, solving a wicked problem is fundamentally a social process.  Having a few brilliant people or the latest project management technology is no longer sufficient.”

I have reflected on the problems and some possible options and solutions relating to the design and implementation of MOOC here and here.

What sort of wicked problems are associated with

(a) connective knowledge and collective learning,

(b) distance education,

(c) online learning?


Wicked Problems http://www.accelinnova.com/docs/wickedproblems.pdf