Teacher, We Weren't Cheating, We Were Collaborating
from the we-swear dept
If a group of people is faced with completing the same task, divvying up portions of it to reduce the workload on each individual is a smart move, right? But if a group of students divides up the questions of a homework assignment, and trades the answer, then most people would say that they've crossed the line from collaboration to cheating, because the point of a school assignment is to get practice doing the answers, not just to turn in the assignment. And yet students are rewarded for the latter, which is why that becomes their primary goal. Obviously, new technology (we're not sure how kids in the above example were collaborating, but a wiki would have served their purposes well) has made it easier for students to "cheat" in the traditional sense, and schools feel like they're fighting a losing battle against the problem. But instead of banning this or that, or trying to come up with some way to check if students are helping each other out, schools should be offering assignments that can't be cheated on. Assignments should test students' knowledge, as well as their ability to collect and process information. Some education traditionalists will scoff at the idea of open-book tests and allowing students to find answers online, and argue for more drills and rote memorization. And while there are times when these methods are appropriate (if you have to go online to do multiplication tables, then you're in trouble), they should ask if it makes sense for most education techniques to bear so little resemblence to the real world, where knowledge is actually applied.