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Electronic Learning

It’s not news that students are using technology to cheat on their school work. Or that their teachers are working hard to stop them.

With their arsenal of electronic gadgets, students these days find it easier to cheat. And so, faced with an array of inventive techniques in recent years, college officials find themselves in a new game of cat and mouse, trying to outwit would-be cheats this exam season with a range of strategies – cutting off Internet access from laptops, demanding the surrender of cellphones before tests or simply requiring that exams be taken the old-fashioned way, with pens and paper.

Teachers blame the technology and the fact that students are using it to plagiarize and cheat on exams. But is it possible that the assignments themselves are the problem?

Instead of tests that ask students to simply recall information, why not give them complete access to any networked device and then ask them to interpret, analyze, or apply the data they find?

As an alternative to the time honored research paper, on the same old subjects in the same old format, maybe we should be requiring students to do real-world projects and use the technology to collaborate with others, both inside and outside the school.

Rather than fighting a losing battle against increasingly connected students, maybe it’s time to reconsider the traditional educational concept that all learning must be done in isolation for it to be valid.

education, cheating, plagiarism

3 Comments

  1. Stephanie

    Oh — but that would make too much sense! Why would we EVER do something like that?

    And — how in the world would we ASSESS individual student learning or include this kind of learning on a standardized test?

    Just putting on my devil’s horns there… Your suggestions do make sense and I agree with you. We need to “let go” of some very out-dated concepts about learning if we hope to have any chance at preparing our students for the 21st century.

    Nice post!

  2. astephens

    OH!! I like the way you think and I am adding you to my RSS feeds!

    Unfortunately with so much standardized testing around, I think many teachers are a little timid to venture too far from the multiple choice format. For whatever reasons, many educators feel that students will not perform well on the tests (which our educational system and government are so fond of) if they do not practice in the same format.

    Solving real-world problems, engaging in discussions, producing products, using technology… how can we convince the people in charge that these skills are more important?

  3. Hoo

    Instructors worried about plagiarism should quit making their writing assignments so rigid (divided into 4 sections, APA this, APA that) and just let people WRITE. The best writers in the world don’t give a rat’s ass about these awful restrictions. Maybe students should be taught that if you want to earn a living involving writing, you should write something interesting, and not worry about anything…and if is interesting enough a billion dollar publishing company will take care of the petty technicalities.

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