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Many Coursera online courses have an exam component. This raises the question:

Question How is a Coursera exam typically conducted?

It seems non-obvious to me how one would conduct an exam involving students who might be on different continents.

1 Answer 1

Having not used Coursera, I do not know what tools they use. However, I have been a part to online exams from both the student and instructor perspective using the Blackboard learning management system. I suspect that features like many (if not all) of the ones Blackboard supports are present in Coursera.

  • Time limits - The instructor has the ability to set a time limit to the exam (which discourages web browsing to find answers). The instructor can also choose to force the student to complete the exam in one sitting or allow students to leave and return.
  • Flexible scheduling - The exam does not have to happen at a specific time, but may be accessible over a time period, perhaps 24 hours or more. The instructor can still enforce time limits and so on.
  • Lockdown - The implementation of Blackboard my institution uses comes with Respondus Lockdown (there are other products), which prevents students from navigating away from the exam once it is started. These products can also prevent such things as minimization of the window, opening new tabs, etc.
  • Proctoring - I have proctored an online exam for another instructor. I had to enter my credentials and a code before the student could start the exam, and I had to enter a different code when the exam was completed.

Features like these give instructors flexibility in offering the exam to students around the world, while still making it harder to cheat.

They will "cheat", however. No online course management system can prevent the student from using their text, notes, or another computer or electronic device to look up answers. The best defense against infractions of this nature are well-written tests (the kind you might write for an open-book or take-home exam).