The Electric Educator: Part 2: Is that your work?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Part 2: Is that your work?

Note: this is part 2 of 5 in the series "Overcoming the Challenges of Online Learning"

A common concern that is raised when I talk about fully online programs is the difficulty of confirming that a student is completing they work that is being submitted. Sadly, we have had several incidents of academic dishonesty, including some which were encouraged by parents (so we believe).

Image by Sclafani via Flickr
We have gone decidedly "low tech" to solve this issue. Instead of employing complicated web-cam monitoring or retinal scan logins (Just kidding!) our teachers give students such a wide variety of assessments it is impossible for a student to cheat on all of them. Students complete computer scored quizzes, hand-written exams, discussion boards, projects, and speak with their instructor on the phone several times a semester to reflect on their learning. A student who always gets 100% on computer scored assignments but can't discuss what they have been learning during a phone conversation will be questioned about the authenticity of their quiz scores.

Another measure we employ is a slightly more "sneaky." During our application process we ask students to write a brief essay in their own handwriting on why they would like to attend our school. Their responses are helpful however the real value of this document is the handwriting sample of the student which we can later use to match against handwritten assessments.

For a school administrator, combating cheating is a doomed proposition however I do my best to make it as difficult as possible. In the end, they only hurt themselves.

Check out my other posts in this series:
1. Lousy, Inflexible Course Content - making your courses better.

2. Is that your work? - Overcoming the challenge of cheating. 
3. The Hallway Conversation - finding ways to encourage authentic conversations between students and instructors.

4. Pacing and Scheduling - helping students stay on schedule and learn discipline.

5. How does this work? - providing first hand experience to families who have no clue.

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