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Academic cheating in the age of the Internet – impossible to stop?




Cheating in the 21st Century.
Cheating in the 21st Century.
Mr_Stein/Flickr

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Obsolete are the sitcom and movie standards of academic dishonesty. A forearm cheat sheet discretely covered with a flannel sleeve, test answers scrawled on the inner side of a water bottle, a system of coughs and subtle body language correlating to the options of a multiple choice answer – antiquated relics of a bygone time. In the age of iPhones, Androids and other pocket bound super-computers cheating has entered the digital era and professors are struggling to adapt countermeasures. There are some tools available to catch the cheater, like Turnitin.com. When students submit their papers, this automated service will canvass the internet, searching key phrases as well as maintaining a backup of submissions on the chance the submission itself could become plagiarized. But some who have embraced technology as a means to fight fire with fire found themselves unhappy with the results. For example, New York University professor Panagiotis Ipeirotis vowed never to use technology again to aggressively police students because it poisoned the atmosphere in the classroom and consumed too many hours of his time, time which detracted from teaching. But what is the answer? With the Internet putting almost unlimited information at our fingertips, the temptation to click and copy can be irresistible to the busy student. In response, some advocate a new model for education - one where students give class presentations that are graded by peers, shifting judgment into the hands of a community rather than a single professor. But would this really solve the problem of cheating? Aren’t we just talking about the mechanics and ignoring the ethical violation of stealing someone else’s work and presenting it as our own?

Guests:

Donald McCabe, professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School

Gregory Washington, president of the Cal State Student Association (CSSA), which represents the CSU’s 412,000 students to the legislature, federal government and CSU Trustees; student at CSU Fullerton

Claudia Magna, president of the University of California Students Association