Beyond deep, surface or strategic: cheating in a free online course

Beyond deep, surface or strategic: cheating in a free online course

This screenshot shows an online learner (“Customer”) in a free online course (, purchasing answers to the final exam questions.

This prompted quite a debate in the discussion forums of the course.

What is the point in achieving a course completion certificate by cheating in this way? The certificate does not carry any credit; the only benefit of taking the course is the learning.


5 thoughts on “Beyond deep, surface or strategic: cheating in a free online course

  1. It was inevitable I guess, and probably happens all the time. This is obviously a very surface learner (so close as to be merely touching the surface!) but I suppose TEL offers these kinds of opportunities. Maybe the answer is not to have learning activities that have a definite answer, thereby negating the opportunity to cheat in this way?

  2. I wonder if the certificate in its own right has some “cultural capital” value for this participant. Will someone else be impressed or value that the participant has the certificate and thus put a value on it that is higher than that the course team and others reading this blog put on it?

    It would be fascinating to the motivation for investing money on gaining evidence of completion of a free course.

    What is this individuals return on investment of the cash spend?

    • Would agree Rob. Certificate would certainly have capital – in a job interview! Look, I was so interested in X, I enroled, took, completed and “passed” this Mooc

    • Hi Rob
      Thank you for your response.

      This was debated in the discussion forum of the course – both the fact that the certificate was of little value without the learning and that ‘buying’ the certificate decreased its value for everyone. Someone suggested, why not fake the certificate rather than faking the learning?

      In fact, it is very likely that the student in question did not receive a certificate, because the datasets distributed as part of the exam were individual and traceable.

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