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Detecting and preventing “multiple-account” cheating in massive open online courses

, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States ; , Harvard Graduate School of Education, United States ; , Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States

Computers & Education Volume 100, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


We describe a cheating strategy enabled by the features of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and detectable by virtue of the sophisticated data systems that MOOCs provide. The strategy, Copying Answers using Multiple Existences Online (CAMEO), involves a user who gathers solutions to assessment questions using a “harvester” account and then submits correct answers using a separate “master” account. We use a small-scale experiment to verify CAMEO and estimate a “lower bound” for its prevalence among 1.9 million course participants in 115 MOOCs from two universities. Using conservative thresholds, we estimate CAMEO prevalence at 1237 certificates, accounting for 1.3% of the certificates in the 69 MOOCs with CAMEO users. Among earners of 20 or more certificates, 25% have used the CAMEO strategy. CAMEO users are more likely to be young, male, and international than other MOOC certificate earners. We identify preventive strategies that can decrease CAMEO rates and show evidence of their effectiveness in science courses.


Northcutt, C.G., Ho, A.D. & Chuang, I.L. (2016). Detecting and preventing “multiple-account” cheating in massive open online courses. Computers & Education, 100(1), 71-80. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved January 30, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 29, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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