In the News: In Case You Missed It
This “in case you missed it” blog post highlights 3 news/media items that raised my blood pressure in the last couple of months.
Inside Higher Education – Course Hero Woos Professors (Doug Lederman)
Have you noticed a change in narrative around sites like Course Hero and Chegg? Are you curious about the shift? If so, check out Lederman’s article exploring the time and money that Course Hero has spent on rebranding itself in the eyes of professors. It is a great example of how this narrative is being promulgated not just by the companies themselves, but by the media – 58% of the content reinforces the positive image, as does the placement of the article in Lederman’s “Transforming Teaching and Learning” column that “explores how colleges and professors are reimagining how they teach and how students learn”. So, to Lederman’s opening question “has [Course Hero’s] outreach to professors changed the narrative?”, the answer is yes – and Inside Higher Education might be helping them do that. (Side note: shout-out to our very own David Rettinger who tries to add some nuanced and ethical context to the piece).
Jeff and EdSurge have been diligent at covering contract cheating of late. See their other articles here, here, and here. I found this one particularly interesting because it tackles the impact of technology on cheating and the notion that we can beat technology with technology. Yes, students can currently ask computer software to write their papers for them, but the papers are of horrible quality and unlikely to get them suspected of cheating. But what happens when the papers are better? What happens when “google glasses” look like regular glasses? This article reminds us that educational institutions have to put more time and energy into creating cultures of integrity, teaching ethical decision-making and rethinking the ways in which they teach and assess learning if we’re really going to maintain integrity in the twenty-first century.
I read this article back on January 23rd and didn’t know how to respond, even when the Communications Officer at my institution suggested I write a letter to the editor in response. I was frustrated with the reporter that they would take one professor’s practice and give it such a prominent platform, with little space provided to the counter-arguments to such a practice. I was tired of thinking about how to respond, yet again, to the false notion that responding to cheating is being a police officer, not a teacher. I was miffed at another professor deciding that their time is so important, that they are willing to undermine or side-skirt University policy instead of using professorial influence and power to improve University policy and processes. I don’t disagree that we have to make processes for responding to integrity violations as fair and efficient as possible, but I do disagree with the fundamental premise – that if a professor doesn’t feel like following University policy, they don’t have to. As Matt Reed notes in “Plagiarism Reports”, an Inside Higher Education blog, “in the name of fairness, due process, serial offenders and legal protection [and I would add ethics], I encourage faculty to use the process, rather than freelancing”.