Cheating for Credit


… or at least that’s the premise of the course “Understanding Cheating in Online Courses.” The course, taught by Bernard Bull at Concordia University Wisconsin, is the result of Professor Bull’s ongoing interest in online plaigiarism:

For two years he conducted research on cheating, focusing not on those who get caught but those who get away with it. At the end of his study, he found his views on cheating had begun to shift. It wasn’t as black and white as he originally thought. Were some courses designed in a way for which cheating seemed the best option? Could professors do more to not just detect cheating but help create an environment where it doesn’t happen in the first place?

I love this approach; it reminds me of how the FBI first captured Frank Abagnale, Jr., a formidable check forger and con artist, and then hired him to work in the Fraud division.

Ethical behavior remains a sore spot as teaching migrates online, as well as expanded pedagogies that include strategies such as take home exams and collaborative test-taking, and ignorance (feigned or otherwise) of the difference between working together and copying each others’ work.  Ignoring the problem or hectoring students for their bad behavior misses the structural affordances that allow it to thrive.