Archived entries for ethics

Cheating for Credit

cheating

… 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.

 

Quandary targets ethical decision-making

The Learning Games Network — the MIT Educational Arcade spinoff that recently jointed forces with University of Wisconsin-Madison — recently announced the release of Quandary, a learning game designed to teach ethics:

The Learning Games Network, a non-profit spin-off of the MIT Education Arcade and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Games+Learning+Society Program, today launched Quandary, a unique game that encourages players to think ethically as they lead a human colony struggling for survival on fictional planet Braxos. The game’s goal is to provide an engaging experience for players aged 8-14 to strengthen foundational skills that help them recognize ethical issues and deal with ethical situations in their own lives.

The press release goes on to mention that while ethics and perspective-taking is often a component of gameplay, it is typically more often the side dish, and not the main course.  Is it OK to, for instance, repeatedly kill your teammate in an online game?  Should you mislead game neophytes to improve your own standing or status?   Quandary attempts to gamify ethical decision-making.

The game is new, so there’s no feedback to share yet.  It will be interesting to compare this to off the shelf games such as The Sims or Civilization, in which ethical decision-making is critical but still the side dish. In all imaginary universes, what constitutes a good decision depends on the design of the game.

It would be very interesting if someone designed a game where the goal was to uncover the off-kilter moral universe of another land.  Imagine if, on Quandary’s Planet Braxos, getting killed meant a rebirth with more power, players were smothered by piles of money, and helping others never ended well.  I suspect that might even offend the producers of Grand Theft Auto.



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