Online cheating in American colleges

The blunders of technology are once again in the news, as the Affordable Care Act’s website continues to wobble around, the Lompoc Record reports.

The Army has just sold back its $300 million science-fiction airship — used one time — for $300,000 to the British company that made it.

If the past is any predictor, our ventures into technological wonders have too often ended in disappointment.

As an educator, I have seen waves of enthusiasm for each new gadget or mode of instruction. My older daughter, who is now at UC Berkeley, is astonished to find all but one of her teachers still uses chalk on a blackboard. Yet the 2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities places her college at third best in the world.

Also frustrating for her – Berkeley has not exactly embraced online instruction. Perhaps it takes the problem of the incredibly high rates of cheating in these courses seriously.

In an elaborately designed set of three studies at Ohio University, researchers “found that 72.5 percent of students reported cheating” in online work. Though signing an honor code has been found to reduce cheating by students in conventional classes, signing such a code didn’t seem to matter for their online students. It did matter if some instruction was done in person.

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