Academic Honesty in Distance Learning

Most teachers and higher education institutions are dealing with the issue of academic honesty in distance learning. In web-based classes, students do not interact with teachers directly. This allows for greater chances of cheating than in the conventional class setup.

To begin with, academic honesty in distance learning mainly involves online courses. Cheating in such courses includes dishonesty while attempting exams or assignments and even plagiarism. Even though there is not much evidence of academic dishonesty in online courses, these offer plenty of alternatives for students to cheat. Mainly, distance learning involves greater amount of planned cheating than panic cheating. Since tests are completed in isolation, the possibility of academic dishonesty increases.

Being spread across a vast geographical region, students are less likely to develop academic honesty in distance learning. There is no norm or standard for all students as many of them may never even meet. Moreover, the technologies of internet make it very easy to copy text from books, both online and offline.

Enhancing the level of academic honesty in distance learning programs requires several measures. Some of the most effective ways are listed below:

1. A college or school that has established a school Honor Code will ensure greater academic honesty among students. These institutions have lower cheating rates than those which do not have any honor codes.

2. Technology can also be used to curb academic dishonesty in online and distance learning courses. This includes use of Log-in IDs and passwords to access class sites, setting time limits on student activities, creating online assignments with short quizzes to make them more objective and allotting different subsets of questions used for assessment for each student.

3. You can also change the educational content and design of the class to reduce chances of cheating in distance learning. For example, online quizzes can form a small part of the final grade, making it difficult to score more by cheating. At least one in-person exam must be conducted so that the authenticity of students can be checked. All questions should focus on the intricacies a topic instead of fact memorization. This can be done through case studies and thought provoking exercises.

4. Unconventional methods of academic evaluation can also be used. Online discussions can be made part of the course to assess the student’s capabilities and understanding of a subject. They can also review the quality of web resources used by them for preparing their assignments. Multiple assignments can be spread over the course of their distance learning term. This makes it difficult for students to take help from a third party again and again.

5. Apart from these measures, academic honesty in distance learning can also be promoted through administrative measures. Regular profiling of your students’ work must be undertaken. Any departures from their normal work must be analyzed. It is also a good idea to use the internet for checking written material through search engine searches and plagiarism tools.

By using all these tricks and tactics, educational institutions can ensure higher academic honesty in distance learning. The more barriers you place on cheating, the more likely those students will do their work  independently.

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