Online schools do their best to keep cheating to a minimum by offering quizzes and tests that are timed on the computer and scored immediately. This prevents students from looking up answers and changing answers after the test is over. But there are still those who will cheat in order to meet the requirements needed to pass the course.
This is why many online colleges have switched to pass/fail final exams. These exams are not graded, but are based on the number of questions a student answers correctly. Without a numerical grade to worry about, many students are less apt to cheat unless they know they will not pass. In many cases, students will have the opportunity to retake the test. Some schools ask that tests be proctored by another person who is not affiliated with the program. This person will acknowledge that they were a witness.
Plagiarizing is a little easier to catch because of the advances in computer technology. If a student takes information off the Internet and does not cite it, there are computer programs such as Copyscape that instructors can use to tell if the material is original or not.
Most schools will ask that students leave the program if they are caught cheating or plagiarizing, but some online programs will only give a student a warning. If they are caught again, they may be asked to leave the program or take the course over again.
Cheating and plagiarizing are not as serious an offense in some online colleges. As long as students turn in assignments and tests, they will not be questioned. Because all correspondence is done over the computer, instructors will not know whether a person is copying answers from their book during a test or not. Many instructors offer open-book tests where students can use their books to find the answers. This eliminates the need to cheat.
Most students who take online classes take them to learn. They are not forced to take classes, they want to take classes. This means that they want to spend their money on a quality education that will teach them more about their career field or about one that want to enter. Cheating and plagiarizing will not benefit them at all. Students who want to learn will not cheat in order to get a good grade.