Thursday, November 17, 2011

Goodbye *.swf hello student cheating

Adobe's business shift to focusing on producing development tools for HTML5 is fantastic. I believe there are a lot of champions and promoters of HTML5, but few realize for something like this to be fully applied and improved we need leaders like Adobe to provide us with the development environments where we can create our media without being concerned with something like writing Javascript Canvas Code.

There's just one small thing that's been on my mind however, something we've taken for granted. The SWF File format provided us with a 'reasonable' amount of security in terms of hiding answers to questions. It's far from secure, all you need is the ability to download the file, decompile it, and root through the source. However, this process for students is more cumbersome than actually just learning the material, not to mention technology that they're probably not familiar with.

As we move towards a Javascript, XML, HTML system for providing Assessments, we may find that increasingly web sophisticated students will find it easier to access answers to questions. You may not realize how quickly a determined student could root through your client side code, but any web familiar individual looking for a quick grade will find it quite easy to exploit your unsecured method of storing answers.

Tools like Quizmaker, or Captivate have provided us a fantastic way to create portable Learning Objects. Now, for reasons of security we may be forced into using our Learning Management System's proprietary Assessment Engine, limiting the shelf life and portability of our content.

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