In a few weeks, Bernard Bull, assistant vice president for academics at Concordia University Wisconsin, will ask participants in his new course to cheat.
There’s a caveat, though. They’ll have to disclose to the rest of the class exactly how they cheated. “Of course, if the assignment is to cheat, then you’re not really cheating,” Mr. Bull admitted.
The assignment will be one unit in his new massive open online course, “Understanding Cheating in Online Courses,” which begins on Monday through the Canvas MOOC platform, run by Instructure, a course-management company. The eight-week course will explore the vocabulary, psychology, and mechanics of what he calls “successful cheating” in online learning.
Mr. Bull said he had been studying issues of cyberethics since the start of the last decade. When he began teaching, he noticed how often student cheating came up in discussions among professors.
“They are concerned about these issues,” Mr. Bull said of professors he’s talked to. “They think through this quite a bit as a faculty, and it became a topic that was always on my mind.”
For two years he conducted research on cheating, focusing not on those who get caught but those who get away with it. At the end of his study, he found his views on cheating had begun to shift. It wasn’t as black and white as he originally thought. Were some courses designed in a way for which cheating seemed the best option? Could professors do more to not just detect cheating but help create an environment where it doesn’t happen in the first place? <Read more.>