Cheating 2.0

Academic integrity is the cornerstone of the best we have to offer in higher education. Integrity flourishes in an environment that encourages mutual respect, fairness, trust, responsibility, and a love of learning and that is maintained by safeguards like clear expectations, fair and relevant assessments, and vigilant course management (McCabe and Pavela 2004). Compelling evidence of widespread academic dishonesty among Net-Generation students threatens to undermine both the environment of trust that nourishes integrity and the safeguards that ensure it.

The Net Generation Cheating Challenge,” Valerie Milliron and Kent Sandoe, Innovate, August/September 2008

There is almost too much to say about this article. On the one hand, I think it seems strangely naive to imagine a pre-net world in which students rarely cheated. So maybe there’s no real change at all. On the other hand, this problem is the Achilles heal of online education, and I am not sure if there’s a solution.

The author’s proposals are both vague and common-commonsensical: create a culture of learning that makes cheating the least attraction option, use technology and smartly designed assignments to make cheating more difficult. It’s exactly the same thing strategy used pre-net.

What goes unacknowledged in the article is that communication technologies are beginning to break down the old educational meritocracy itself, with it’s close links among property, learning, and grades. These breakdowns make the machinery visible.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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