The notion that “cheating is more common in online courses” is among the most common myths about online education, according to U.S. News & World Report. Today’s online schools and e-learning platform providers have numerous ways of preventing academic dishonesty, U.S. News & World Report wrote. These methods range from high-tech solutions like keystroke recognition programs to twists on more traditional procedures like finding virtual ways to proctor exams.

Proctoring Online Tests

Tests tend to provide the greatest opportunity for academic dishonesty. In one study published in the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 72.5 percent of students surveyed had cheated a quiz in an online class. When online colleges want to prevent and reduce instances of academic dishonesty, it’s especially important to address testing.

Some schools make students visit a brick-and-mortar campus to take proctored tests for their online courses. However, this requirement decreases the flexibility of online college, which is the biggest advantage of e-learning. For some students, losing that flexible schedule or being forced to commute to a campus that’s not geographically convenient is a deal breaker. To solve these problems, many online college programs are changing the way they proctor exams. They may require students to take the test in front of a webcam so that instructors or school officials can verify that they didn’t consult outside materials. Students may also need to show their I.D. to prove that they are, in fact, the one doing the work

Computer Software to Detect Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a major aspect of academic dishonesty at both traditional and online schools. While students can purchase papers or copy and paste information from the Internet into their own work, they’re also likely to get caught. Plagiarism detection software makes it easy for professors to quickly determine if the student has lifted the paper from another source.

Checking Students’ Keystroke Signature

Can online college officials tell who you are by your keystrokes? With the right keystroke recognition programs, online colleges and course providers can determine who is at the keyboard, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students must complete typing exercises early on in the course. Later, when doing their actual assignments, computer programs can compare the rhythm and speed of a student’s keystrokes to the baseline data gathered from their initial exercises.

Consistency of Coursework

The final method of catching cheaters is also the simplest: by comparing their work throughout the course. Students whose grades suddenly and inexplicably improve or whose coursework varies wildly from one point in the class to another draw extra attention from instructors and make it more likely that any dishonesty will be noticed.

While some experts say academic dishonesty is widespread in e-learning, others believe that it’s no more common in online courses than in on-campus ones. Online colleges, instructors and course providers are constantly developing new, more effective ways of catching cheaters and making sure that honest, hard-working students are the ones earning their degrees.