The normalization of cheating

As an educator, it was my experience that teaching exclusively online during the 2020 pandemic was not very effective. Not only were certain things impossible to teach through a screen—things such as music lessons, the arts, acting and speech— but the subjects which did lend themselves easily to online teaching lost something as well. Mostly lecture based classes such as history can be easily delivered online, but the personal interaction is completely lost. Noticing the student in the back who might be uncomfortable with a subject, bumping into the student in the hall who was wondering about a subject that I happen to have a book about… all of these serendipitous interactions are suddenly lost, and students become impersonal faces on a screen. Online teaching also leads to further complications in learning assessment, i.e., testing. Due to the almost complete isolation experienced by most students, a plurality have started to cheat in order to get ahead on their assignments, as the Wall Street Journal has found in this investigation. This is no small matter in terms of a cultural shift. There is a big difference between omitting information to be socially courteous and passing off another’s work as one’s own. The latter is theft, and a culture that tolerates theft is not one that will flourish long. 

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