Archive | February 2013

does ‘googling’ it = cheating?

i believe in honour and ethics and perhaps because i was raised Catholic I have an abundant supply of guilt…abundant!

i’m the girl who gets nervous going through a road block without even one sip sipped!  i get anxiety crossing the border lest the car i am driving should have a hidden stash of something from the previous owner. getting an odd phone call with a cryptic message sends me spinning for about 30 seconds–and then i remember i’ve done nothing wrong. nothing.

…so the thought of cheating, bending the truth or omitting details crosses a well-defined line. there are no shades of grey here only a line that is as black as it is white; however, apparently this golden rule is not universal.

last week i administered my first midterm exam for an online course i am teaching and boy was i surprised when i started grading it. apparently 1/3 of my class ‘cheated.’ well what i would call cheating but apparently they don’t.

a week later and i am still floored. why?

first, the cheating was sooooo obvious. secondly, the exam wasn’t that hard. but most shocking was the belief that they would get away with it…and in a sense they did…i didn’t see it and i can’t prove but i know it. how?

well, i can ‘google’ search with the best of them; moreover, i wrote the course word for word so i am quite the expert at spotting my own ‘turns of phrase.’ yep,  when i read an answer that uses the term, “the glamorous part of marketing,” i’m going to remember the words i painstakingly crafted to be enlightening, educating and conversationally interesting. and for those who ‘googled’  the answer and then plugged in concepts and terms that have never been taught, emphasized or referenced in the class but are correct, well i am just annoyed. if they are going to ‘cheat’ i want them at least to be smart enough to synthesize their learning.

and that is the ‘crux’ of what really gets under my skin…is the power of google making us lazier? is it making us learn less and rely on the power of our fingertips more? we can find anything out in 30 seconds or less–not only immediate answers to questions but opinions, insights, rants, raves and summaries of complex concepts. students can seek out answers to questions but can also google assignments, papers, essays and projects. so although the internet can be help is is also a hinderance?

a very artistic, creative and smart man, David Usher, shared one of the most profound things he has learned over the course of his career. it really impressed me, and i applauded the fact that he not only shared it, but stated it was one of the most important ideas he wants to impart to his children.  his brilliance summed up in 15 words…

” you must be able to form your own impressions, own your ideas and present them.”

smart. right?

so in this day and age where the power of the internet can connect, enlighten and empower us we need to be mindful of owning our  ideas and thoughts and synthesizing and leveraging what we learn–instead of stealing from others!

i’ve not lambasted or accused my students of anything. instead i’ve shared a carefully crafted reminder about the perils of plagiarism and have imparted  Mr. Usher’s words of wisdom about owning and presenting your ideas.

its a lesson learned for me, but perhaps more importantly an opportunity to teach others. i came across this quote the other day and agreed wholeheartedly with it.

“if you had enough time to cheat, you had enough time to think about it.” ~anonymous

about that midterm, i’ve moved on, but you better believe i’m revising the FINAL.

the coffeehouse vs. the coffeeshop

imagesthe coffeehouse experience is a rich and as bold as the coffee it brews.  so what makes a true coffeehouse? hmmm…

you will know a coffeehouse the moment you step inside, it hums and vibrates with connections and conversations, and there are bumps…the physical and the metaphoric. the clientele is a kaleidoscope and collision of ages and destinations.  there is coffee to go for those heading to work, and coffee mugs for those arriving to work, to sit, and to socialize. there is a subtle steam and sweat that emanates here–not from the espresso machine but from those  bodies that are post run or bike. although there are a handful of heels and suits in this house, more than anything there is an abundance of denim, spandex and gortex.

sliding into line you often navigate the young and the old (old in age, but young at heart) as a random order unfolds while coffees and hot chocolates are called–some with a a side of the sweet some with savory. despite the number of steamed and heated cups  ferried from counter to tables and out the doors there are seldom any spills.  it’s as though a magical dance takes place between all those who enter the ‘house.’  a heightened awareness, friendliness and appreciation for the moment allows everyone to bob and weave as though choreographed.

if you have arrived alone planning to get some creative, head down work done, you will.  you’ll receive a few taps on the shoulder and a quick wave or nod but you won’t be bothered because the laptop signifies a universal ‘work in progress.’ conversely if you are seeking out a coffee partner you need only to wait a few minutes before someone you know invites you to join them.

a coffeeshop fills cups and carafes as people file in and out, some in twos some alone. there is a noise, a thrum that is disconnected–it is perhaps like a house that is not yet a home–one waiting to be filled with that special blend of energy. the spark that moves dominoes from static to spiraling.

sometimes a coffehouse is lurking in the shadows of a coffeeshop awaiting the hour where it transforms–sometimes it is only glimpsed in the late evening or mid-afternoon, but if you have a coffeehouse of your own you know what i am talking about.

what’s your favourite coffeehouse?