There are two kinds of unauthorised use
or access which may give problems: expert hacking, and casual
attempts by students to cheat.
Casual Cheating and Unsubmitted Exercises
There are some obvious ways in which students
can cheat. For example, they might download an exercise, so
that they have an opportunity to see the questions, then avoid
actually doing the exercise on screen at that time. They could
take as long as they wish to find the answers, then download
the exercise again, and complete it perfectly.
It is impossible to prevent this type of
behaviour, but hotpotatoes.net does record every occasion
on which an exercise is downloaded by a registered student,
and records the student name and download time. Whenever a
teacher sees a list of exercise results, they will also see
a list of the occasions on which the exercise was downloaded
but not submitted, and this should allow the teacher to see
when students are cheating in this way. The results are displayed
for 'Too Many Cooks'
| Fred Smith
||30 Oct 2001 09:17
| Yoko Fujiyama
||31 Oct 2001 11:21
| Dipak Patel
||30 Oct 2001 23:22
| Fred Smith
||28 Oct 2001 15:30
| Fred Smith
||29 Oct 2001 15:55
This shows that Fred Smith scored 99 when
he completed the "Too Many Cooks" exercise on the
30th October, but also that he had previously downloaded the
exercise on 28th and 29th. He did not complete the exercise
on either of these occasions, but he may have had an opportunity
to see the questions.
The hotpotatoes.net system does not try
prevent this kind of behaviour - it simply informs the teacher
that it is happening, so that the teacher can act on it if
s/he wants to do so. The existence of unsubmitted exercises
does not prove that a student has been cheating, or deliberately
misusing the system - for example, a few unsubmitted exercises
may simply indicate that the student is using an unreliable
internet connection. It is for the teacher to decide what
response, if any, is appropriate.
Note that when an "Unfinished"
result is recorded, this also indicates that the student may
have had the opportunity to see the exercise questions.
Extra Information - Host Names and IP
As well as the score, and an optional student
comment, the results system also stores the host-name (computer
name) and IP address (internet number) of the computer from
which the exercise was submitted. Those who understand this
information may find it useful, especially for tracking and
monitoring students who are suspected of collaborating unfairly,
or cheating in some other way.
hotpotatoes.net is as website, and as such,
it may be possible for expert users to gain unauthorised access
to it, and to alter the records and results stored here. We
have put in place every security measure available to us,
within the technological restrictions under which the system
works, but we cannot guarantee that cheating is impossible,
or that the system cannot be "hacked".
It is therefore important to remember that
the results scoring system is not designed for use in testing
for statutory examinations or formal qualifications. hotpotatoes.net
is only as secure as any other online environment, and is
inherently less secure than a supervised examination room.
If you know of or suspect that some unauthorised
access has been made to your account, or to any of the information
or results stored there, please let us know urgently. In the
UK, unauthorised use of computer systems is a criminal offence.