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.

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About ithinkinwords

i love common sense and innovation. the trails, mountains and oceans are magic. i run a little, have recently taken up mountain biking and find bliss in yoga. getting outside everyday and moving is a must! sometimes when i am driving i look into the rearview and think how did i get here? -- last time i looked i was 17 and crossing my fingers my VW had enough gas. well it got me here.

4 responses to “does ‘googling’ it = cheating?”

  1. Erinne says :

    Perhaps you should just tell them all to review all their notes from class. Pick one main concept and have them explain it back to you orally! They will not know what the exact question is before the exam, you will get an understanding of whether or not they grasp the concept. Or can’t you make them write answers during an in class exam time? Or maybe make them present their paper like they have to sell it, pitch it?

    • twocentsplus says :

      it’s online so that is the tricky part…i’m totally on board with the one concept idea. i am going to write a couple of case studies and then ask questions…they will either know their stuff or not. there is no way they can google my fake campaigns 🙂

  2. breezyk says :

    I was wondering lately how many people google the answers to the New York Times Crossword puzzle now. It will never be as hard again.
    Google is a tough one. in some ways its a great, time saving invention, in others it really does make us way lazier.I wonder where we’ll end up?

    • twocentsplus says :

      it is a tricky one…technology can connnect us and isolate us in the same moment. we can stay in touch with friends a far (and close too) but how many of us have been ‘caught’ in a restaurant checking our phone instead of engaging withe the human(s) in front of us…hmm?

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