Technology may not always be our friend

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They look up answers that they barely read. They cut and paste the answers into documents they barely edit. They even copy whole essays off sites designed for that purpose.

If our students were using pen and paper, at least they’d have the reinforcement from writing what they copied.

A small subset of our students are using technology to avoid learning — and some of them are doing it rather successfully. I caught one student this year because about two-thirds of the way down his essay, I saw the word “whom.” Up to that point, I had been impressed. But I knew the kid and that kid was never going to use “whom.” I put a line from the essay into a search engine. A site offering essays popped up. I put in a line from another part of the essay. The same site popped up. If he had changed just a few words, he would probably have gotten a high “A” instead of a “0”, though.

Food for thought as so many bureaucrats and administrators leap on the technology bandwagon: I’m honestly not sure but we might get as much learning from hand slates and chalk if we subtracted the cheating.


Eduhonesty: Technology allows for plagiarism in particular, as well as other cheating. To prevent this dishonest behavior, a great deal of monitoring is required. In many places, this monitoring is not happening. Our already overloaded educators don’t have time to check the originality of all the work they receive. Sometimes there’s no way to check. A quick phone search during a test or quiz can slip right by. Students today are linked together 24/7 and help from friends in cyberspace has become part of the academic landscape.