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Cheating in the Digital Age
posted by: Melissa | March 14, 2018, 07:15 PM   

There’s no doubt about it, over the past few years classrooms have begun to change. More and more, technology is finding its way into schooling and more schools than ever boast a 1:1 environment. This environment is a blessing in many ways. Collaboration and research is easier than ever before. Students can be creative in new and interesting ways. However, this environment also comes with many challenges.

One challenge facing educators in 1:1 environments is that of cheating. Cheating is nothing new, of course, but the technology filling our classrooms means that it takes on new forms. Google and texting are only a few fingerswipes away, while whole websites have sprung up around providing answers to the work in commonly used curriculums. In this new environment, what can a teacher do to combat cheating?

Surprisingly, combatting cheating with technology isn’t that different than when educators had to deal with cheating before technology. Educators can, and should, combat cheating from multiple sides. Dealing with cheating can be boiled down to educating students about cheating, creating assignments that make cheating difficult, and then creating an environment where cheating is easy to spot.

The first step in combatting cheating is talking about it. Many times, we assume that students know what cheating is, but this is not always the case. Students who are used to looking things up on the internet, may not think anything about looking something up on the internet during a test. These same students may not realize that copying something someone else wrote is considered plagiarism. The first step to combat cheating is to define what it is and to explain to the students the reasons why doing the work is better for them.

The next step is to create assessments where cheating is more difficult. Teachers have done this for decades by using questions that call for higher-order thinking, passing out multiple versions of the same test, and relying on open-ended questions. In the age of digital learning, the strategy is the same. When a test is given online, it’s typically fairly easy to have the program you’re using randomize the order of questions. It’s also possible to word the questions so that looking the answers up online is more difficult.

As looking things up becomes easier, many educators are deciding that rather than trying to prevent students from looking things up, they’re going to test how students use the information that they’re able to find. These educators may ask for interpretations of documents or use project-based assessments that require more time and energy over just spitting out basic facts.

Even with all of the above done, though, some students will still try to cheat, and that is where having the right environment and right tools come into play. As cheating using digital sources has proliferated, so have the tools designed to prevent it. Resources like can help teachers locate plagiarism, while other programs, like Classroom Spy or ScreenWatch allow teachers to monitor what students are doing on all of their computers.

How do you combat using technology to cheat in your classroom?

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