Sharing Your Results – Is It Cheating?

As of 2013, whenever you have a question, you Google it.

Likewise when you have a question about a MOOC you may be taking, it is often just as useful to Google it as it is to check the discussion forums. However, many people like to post their answers, and specifically, their results from MOOC projects for the public to see. And by doing so, the posters make it easier for new students to find the answers just by searching.

Therefore, if it’s not the first time the class is being hosted though, chances are pretty good that a student can find an exact post or file with the answers. And I’ve now found this to be true with a number of the classes I’ve taken; just search “coursera” or “edx” on GitHub. Specifically, I stumbled upon the following answers while I was seeking help on the internet (SPOILER ALERT: Links lead to answers!):

  • Stanford’s Introduction to Databases – Programming solutions can be found by searching the question on Stack Overflow
  • 10gen’s MongoDB for DBAs – The entire final is available on someone else’s blog (although not completely in English)
  • Johns Hopkins Computing for Data Analysis on Coursera – Projects with details of how analysis can be done are everywhere on GitHub

gitI am not helping the situation either, as one of my next posts will be a collection of final projects from the Winter/Spring “semester” I recently finished. However, I just can’t resist the temptation of putting my results out on the internet to be roasted by all those who roam the web. Although, I still haven’t decided whether it is morally right or wrong to share the information knowing that it may be used inappropriately.

Regardless, hopefully no one will plagiarize my work, although not much of it is worth plagiarizing anyways. But, I also post it in hopes that it might help some people avoid the same stumbling blocks I found, or maybe give them direction when they reach a mental impasse.

I’m sure there isn’t a “catch-all” solution, but I hope someone can answer me this, how can we collaborate through sharing and still prevent cheating?