Technology’s Role in Cheating

By Katie Ash — June 18, 2009 1 min read
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It seems that the days of students scrawling formulas and definitions on the palms of their hands are gone, according to this report by the San Francisco-based Common Sense Media. As you might expect, today’s students are instead turning to their cell phones and other technologies to help them cheat.

As Kathleen points out in her story, more than a third of teens with cellphones admit to using them to cheat at some point, and more than half of the students surveyed have used the Internet to cheat.

Students with cellphones admitted to cheating by texting their friends during tests, taking pictures of quiz or test questions, searching the Internet for answers about test questions, or storing notes in their cellphones to refer to during the test. Internet cheaters used the Web to download papers or reports to turn in as their own work, copy text from Web sites to turn in as their own work, or search for teacher’s manuals online that have the answers in them.

Obviously, neither the Internet nor cellphones are going away, and so school officials and educators need to stem this dishonesty by teaching students about “digital literacy and citizenship,” as well as modernizing the curriculum to address these issues, James Steyer, the chief executive officer of Common Sense Media told Kathleen.

One question this survey does raise for me is, how much of this cheating has always been going on in different forms, and how much of it is induced by technology? Does technology make it easier to cheat, thereby allowing more students to engage in that behavior? Or has this always been a problem, and are students now just turning to the resources they have at hand to do what they would’ve done anyway?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.