Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cheating Using Technology

Normally I like to assume the best from my students, but I know they are not perfect.  Some would say that is reason enough to not use anything other than paper, but I see enough kids in the halls copying each other's paper assignments or using their phones to snap others' work to know technology is not the problem - morality is.  But technology CAN be the solution.  This post is how to check if you suspect something.

1.  Plagiarism is the most prevalent cheating in part because kids have been doing it so long and have not been called on it.  Usually it is blatant as in "Of or relating to Greek history" for the definition of hellenistic.  As I like to tell my students, "No one talks like that."  Secondly if they have cut and pasted the work, they are being lazy so you can find the work simply by cutting and pasting it into a browser and the same site will come right up.  I just put the link from the page in their work and have my proof for the student when we talk.

2.  Copying using Google Drive is also easy to catch.  Go to file (picture on the left) and then "see revision history."  Usually when a kid cheats, he/she simply copies and pastes.  I require my students to put their name and title of the assignment in the title part of a Google Doc and have actually found some kids copy the material and forget about that and literally hand over the name of the kid they copied from.   You can also look at the revision history since it shows the days each time it was accessed.  So if a kid cheats, they will probably only have one entry.  Well what if the assignment legitimately was only done on one day.  At the bottom of a revision history you can show "more detailed revisions" and it will then show multiple times for each day (picture on the right).  Each time you click on the date, you can see the changes that occurred.  Thus any assignment should have more than one entry this way.  Please note that I do not check every assignment this way as it would take too long.  But if a kid has had issues in the past or I am suspect, then it is a very quick and easy check.

Finally we all know we can't stop cheating all together, but technology can make it much easier to do.  For me there is so much on the Internet so student products can be infinitely better than say when I was a kid. But part of stopping the problems above is taking the time to teach what is acceptable, what is legitimate collaboration and what is not tolerated.    

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