How Technology is Helping Catch More Cheaters
A recent article in The Atlantic highlights the tale of a girl identified only as Christina, who posted on Craigslist seeking someone that fit her physical description to take a math placement test for her. However, her ad wasn’t answered by a math student in need of extra cash, instead, it was answered by “J.C.”, a professor who learned about the ad from a private teachers group on Facebook.
J.C. made an effort to learn more about Christina and, after a good deal of back and forth, she backed away from the project and reported Christina to the college involved. However, since Christina was still just an applicant at the school, the college could only put her admission on hold.
While that’s a light punishment, especially considering that Christina can try again at a different school, it shows the lengths and the capabilities of professors and teachers in finding and investigating these types of cases.
Students have long used technology to help them cheat in the classroom. Whether it’s email, message boards, social networking sites, private text messaging circles or even apps like Snapchat, students have long used technology as a means to cheat on assignments.
However, teachers have begun using those same tools to their advantage. Whether it’s private teaching groups on Facebook, such as the one in the article, private forums, email lists or even entire social networks built for educators, teachers are now using technology as a means to counter cheating.
While this normally doesn’t take the shape of sting operations, such as the one J.C. executed, it does include exchanging tips on how to prevent students from cheating, discussions about techniques students are using and exchanging notes on how to work with administrators on cases of cheating.
This runs counter to the stereotype of the technically inept teacher being outfoxed by tech-savvy students. Though it’s still a common trope in the media, the truth is that teachers are more tech-savvy than ever and are routinely using the same tools and tricks as their students to help them catch and punish cheaters.
As a result of this, students who are often confident that they can’t be caught by their teachers or that there is no way they can be found out are routinely learning otherwise.
So while technology has definitely made it easier to cheat, it’s also made it much easier to detect, stop and prove.
For proof of that, just look to plagiarism. While the Internet and modern computing has made it easier than ever to find and copy works, it’s also made possible plagiarism detection tools that scan, spot and highlight copied text.
For cheaters, technology is always a double-edged sword and, as educators get more familiar with the tools, the second edge gets sharper with every day.