Using Technology to Cheat Throughout time there have individuals who have cheated on various things such as; sporting events, personal and professional tasks, and academic tasks. While the examples of cheating in these areas are endless, we will focus on academic cheating.
With the advent of modern technology bypassing check-and-balance systems that are in place to keep people honest have become extremely easy to bypass; for example, in the 1980’s individuals would borrow VHS cassettes and copy them; however, technology has changed and advanced since then, and with more advanced technology more people are using technology to cheat. An example of using modern technology to bypass a check-and-balance system is Napster. Napster began as a service that allowed people to download music for free without purchasing the CD; bypassing the copyright on the music.
There were students who copied the music from Napster, who said “everyone else is doing it why can’t I”. (Jones, 2008).
Most people who copied VCR tapes, along with those who copied music from Napster, usually did not think that what they were doing was cheating, or stealing; however, by definition it was. “How is it cheating? ” some may ask. When individuals copy things that do not belong to them, they rob the original producer out of the profits that they would have made by proper distribution.
As we look at this, our question began with why students cheat, how students cheat and what are professors, colleges, educators doing to prevent cheating by the students. We find that there are an ever increasing number of students who are using technology various ways to cheat. Students have cheated on homework, since the first homework assignment was assigned to students; however, in recent years students have found new ways to cheat. This leads to Professors and other educators to find more creative ways educate the students, which also forces educators to find more creative ways of reducing and prevent cheating.
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We can all say that we know that cheating is something that we have been taught as being wrong. Many of us would think of our moral values and our attitudes about cheating as a way to explain why we would never try to cheat. Today students are using these same reasons to say why they do cheat. Another reason why students cheat is because of their influences around them, some may even cheat because it’s socially accepted amongst the students that they are around. It’s the old story of who the student hangs around they become somewhat like. This is something some people can remember being brought up with.
We were told who you hang around with you become like. For some reason when you know someone who cheats on a test and gets away with it we figure, why don’t I try it, they did it, cheating must be easier then studying for this test. Some students cheat because they need a higher grade to get the scholarship to attend school, and to keep their parents to be proud of them. The stresses from home can be very high especially when we are talking about finances to attend college which can add unnecessary pressure on the student. Usually once an assignment is given everyone goes and works on it.
There are many different students who gather together in teams to work on papers today then there was ever before. Even with this there are still some students and teams of students who cheat because they did not take the time to study, and because of not taking the time to study they now are in a hurry to get things done. A research survey geared toward cheating was given to students in 12 colleges in the United States and abroad stated that engineering students were more likely to cheat as 60% to 90% of engineering students admitted to cheating. (Harding, 2004).
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Harding also states that “both technology and cultural norms play a role in the increase of students who cheat. ” Students look at what cheating is, and find easier ways of cheating with help of modern technology and how it has shaped our culture. “90% of students who cheat are likely to continue to cheat or violate policies later in life. ” (Harding, 2004).
Looking at the various options students have available to cheat, students are able to use several readily available services that can be easily accessed on the internet. Websites such as Free Essay Network (http://www. freeessay. om/) have become very popular as they offer an “essay sharing” network. One of the most popular tools available students on the internet is Google. Google’s search system allows users to perform very detailed and specific searches, even allowing user to search for specific file types such as Microsoft Word documents, Adobe Reading documents, which are popular formats for academic material. An article featured in the Minnesota State University Reporter states plagiarism has also become a big business as some companies provide prewritten papers, presentations, and other assignments a student may seek.
In addition to these services some companies also offer custom research at a premium. (Kates, 2003) With everything that is available to students, it can seem overwhelming to educators who have to combat cheating; however, educators are not as “behind the curve” as some students may think. According to a recent trial in the United Kingdom, the exam board Edexcel has that its technique of tagging papers with radio transmitters and applying microscopic identification to individual papers has proved successful in reducing cheating attempts by students. Smith, 2008).
According to Edexcel the radio frequency works similar to anti-theft devices that are used by retail stores to product their stock. Smith goes on to state that “The board’s security system works by attaching radio frequency devices to a batch of exam papers before they are sent on to their waiting establishment of learning. Once attached, the devices are scanned before dispatch and tracked throughout the journey to ensure a safe and unhampered arrival. ” (Smith, 2008).
In addition to the high tech security systems applied directly to individual papers, Edexcel has also implemented a system that utilizes bar codes that are affixed to individuals papers as well; all in an attempt to create a fail safe environment that discourages cheating by students. (Smith, 2008).
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The United Kingdom is not the only place where educators, academic professionals, and those interested in academic honesty have developed a high tech system to help prevent academic cheating.
In the United States software manufacture, Software Secure, has recently release its Securexam Remote Protector system that provides a secure environment for distance learning. (Kopt, 2007).
As the number of students who use distance learning increase, so does the likely hood that students will cheat in their distance learning studies; since technology has made cheating increasingly easier in the class room, one can only assume that technology has made cheating in the distance learning classroom even easier.
This is why education institutions, educators, and academic professionals have been developing ways to combat distance learning cheating since the beginning of distance learning. Software Secure has deployed its Securexam Remote Protector system in more than 300 academic institutions so far, and is planning on deploying in even more institutions in the future. The reason that system Software Secure developed has become so popular is because of the different layers of security it implements into the academic process.
For instance, online tests have been locked down, preventing users from accessing anything else on the computer except the test they are working on. The Securexam Remote Protector system also utilizes biometric authentication to identify the test taker, before the test is administered to the student. The last layer of security that the Securexam Remote Protector implements is real-time video capturing that can capture any suspicious activity before, during, or after the test taking process.
This video is available in real time and recorded to educators and academic professionals. (Kopt, 2007).
Colleges, Universities, and other academic institutions are not the only ones who must combat technology that is being used to cheat. In Meridian, Idaho students began using digital media players to cheat on tests and exams; because a few students used their digital media players to cheat, officials at the Mountain View High School created a policy that bans digital media player.
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Students who use digital media players to cheat have found very creative ways of doing so. For instance, students may hide the answers to a text in the “lyrics” of a particular song, prerecord the answers and listen to them while the take the test, or students may even use the song itself to cheat on a test. (Associated Press, 2007).
The actions by a few students who decide to use technology to cheat do more than rob those students of the learning process; it also takes away privileges that honest students enjoy.
Kelsey Nelson who is a 17 year old student at Mountain View High School said that she used to be able to listen to music after she had completed her tests; however, with the new ban on digital media players she is no longer able to do this. Nelson also indicated that the ban has not prevented students from cheating. (Associated Press, 2007).
Going forward the challenges that academic professionals face in combating students who use technology will be perpetual; a game of cat-and-mouse with the students who, up to this point, have been further ahead of the technology than their teachers.
This trend is unlikely to change; however, as younger teachers, instructors, professors, and academic professionals battle technology that is used to cheating, the technology gap between students and their teachers will become smaller. As this gap becomes smaller, and newer technologies are developed to counteract technological cheating, students may see a time when they are not able to easily use technology to cheat. When this time comes, students will more than likely find another medium to use for cheating.
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