Christe also often signs up as a student for her own online courses under an assumed name. That way, she says, her alter ego gets many of the E-mails her students send to each other. Occasionally, she's caught students posting answers. More often, she says, she'll see an E-mail from a student complaining or asking for help. Then she'll contact the student and say, "I heard from a student that Assignment 7 is really giving you a challenge," and offer to help.
Tougher monitoring of students: The Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT and AP tests, says it is ratcheting up security. It doesn't allow any food, bottles, or electronic devices, including cellphones, in testing rooms. Penn State's new testing center requires students to take off or turn around any hat with a brim; that's to prevent students from using notes written on the underside of their caps. Students also must take off zipped jackets or sweatshirts—clothing items that offer plenty of cheat-note storage space—before starting tests. UCF's College of Business has banned chewing gum at its secure test center after catching a student hiding a Bluetooth cellphone earpiece behind her long hair and talking to a helper by pretending to chew gum. UCF also plugged up the computers' USB ports after proctors caught a student hiding a flash drive inside a pen.
Cheat-proof homework and tests: A growing number of professors are creating computerized banks of test questions so that they can randomly assign different questions to different students. That way, there's no advantage to looking at a neighbor's paper. In addition, professors are experimenting with timed short essays that can be aced only by students who really know their stuff, since it would take too long to look up the information.
Some professors, such as Indiana State's Lotspeich, require students to turn in outlines and rough drafts before the final paper deadline so that they can see each student's progress. That quickly flags students who might have downloaded completed essays from the Web.
Some professors are even reducing cheating by creating more real-world assignments that point out the stupidity of cheating. Clayton Lewis, a University of Colorado computer science professor, now allows students to collaborate on homework. It's silly to consider that "cheating," he believes. "We're gradually waking up to the fact that in real life, it is all about working together," he says.
Lewis's assignments are often little more than: " 'Think of something you would like to do with a computer, and show me that you could do it.' It isn't going to eliminate cheating, but the incidence is going to be really reduced," he says. After all, Lewis notes: "What's the point of cheating on something you want to do?"