We are in the midst of a heated public debate over the benefits of online education, the Daily News reports. Yet while journalists and educators weigh in on the pros and cons of online courses, I’ve seen no mention of how online classes, which tend to be composed of large numbers of students, can lead to an increase in academic dishonesty. This past semester, I caught quite a few of my students at Cal State Northridge engaging in academic dishonesty — more so than I’ve ever seen in my 17½-year tenure at Cal State Northridge. And from what I hear, I am not the only professor on campus who is dealing with this problem. I think that the incidents of cheating and plagiarism have increased for two interconnecting reasons: The first is the trend of packing as many students as possible into course sections as a means of saving money, and the second is the structure of the online courses themselves. It is evident that these two intertwining trends can serve to produce an academic culture rife with cheating and plagiarism.
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