Assessment and Recognition of MOOCs: The State of the Art

Farrow, Robert; Ferguson, Rebecca; Weller, Martin; Pitt, Rebecca; Sanzgiri, Janesh and Habib, Mustafa (2021). Assessment and Recognition of MOOCs: The State of the Art. Journal of Innovation in Polytechnic Education, 3(1) pp. 15–26.



This study presents a descriptive overview of assessment and verification techniques used and emergent in contemporary online learning platforms. The Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged many institutions to move to online examinations at scale. Verification of learner identity is thus increasingly important for online education in examination and proctoring. Here we review state of the art approaches to ID verification, recognition, and assessment in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). Desktop research included research publications, grey literature, and direct interactions with MOOC platforms to identify current practices. The main focus was on public data from course pages on MOOC platforms, and particularly courses that had been grouped to offer a single academic program. Four approaches to verification of identity are described: basic identity checks; checks made by the university; external proctoring; and various types of interview. Our review demonstrates the absence of any universal approach. However, the emergent picture indicates increasing co-ordination across relevant stakeholders (including higher education institutions, employment services and the private sector). There remain significant challenges for online proctoring, including overcoming learner preferences and meeting the increased resourcing needed for human-led processes of identity verification. There remain significant ethical challenges regarding the use of learner data (especially biometrics). As a result, MOOC platforms may benefit from adopting identity verification strategies that are well-established in higher education institutions, such as plagiarism checking software and pedagogies like e-portfolios.

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