One of the greatest benefits of technology, as students have discovered, is how it can help with studying. Vast stores of information, descriptive videos, scientific simulations, and more are at their fingertips to help them understand concepts or find facts for reports. Web sites and web-based tools let students publish their writing, artwork, videos and more—and get valuable feedback from others. Students who learn in different ways can find multiple ways to approach nearly any topic, helping them learn in the way that works best for them. Technology also allows students to store large amounts of data on small, portable tools such as flash drives, wireless devices and cell phones. They can solve math problems using online calculators, instant message (IM) a friend for information, conduct a Web search with their cell phone, or download a podcast of their teacher’s lecture to their iPod. On the flip side, students can download essays from online paper mills or find free analyses of novels, plays and poems on sites such as CliffsNotes, AntiStudy and Free Book Notes.com. The wide availability and thoroughness of these types of sites poses a challenge for educators who expect students to do their own work. Instead of forbidding students from using these sites (which is often ineffectual), teachers can instead consider letting the technology work with them. For example, one Montana teacher allows his students to use their cell phones during test time. Akin to the “lifeline” on TV game shows such as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” students can “phone a friend” within a five-minute window for help in answering a test question. To reduce cheating and plagiarism, consider the following ideas:
- Speak with your students about the proper, legitimate and responsible use of technology for study.
- Remind students of your school’s policy on cheating and plagiarism, and make penalties clear.
- Discuss the benefits of citing sources, and analyze with them the quality of essays from paper mills.
- Let your students know that you have tools — such as Plagiairism.org and Glatt Plagiariasm Services — to detect cheating and plagiarism. Importantly, these tools are not foolproof; some savvy students will find ways to avoid detection.
- Facilitate a discussion among your students to help them generate their own Internet guidelines. Document these guidelines, post them in the classroom, and revisit them often. Students will take on much greater responsibility for their actions if they have a vested role in defining that responsibility.
*This section based on the article Safety Net: Help your students avoid getting caught up in bullying, cheating, or privacy problems, authored by Russell Grimes and Sindie Spencer Kennedy of the Montana Safe Schools Center, in Cable in the Classroom, July/August 2008.