Instructor

Academic Integrity in the Age of Online Learning

Issue link: http://read.uberflip.com/i/1280030

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 1 of 16

Wiley—Academic Integrity In the Age of Online Learning 2 Beginning in March 2020, schools all over the country began canceling in-person classes and moving instruction to an online format. The result? Hundreds of thousands of students left their campuses to continue their college courses online. In fact, online education has grown rapidly over the past two decades, with over 90 percent of higher education institutions having some sort of online course offering. 1 There are a myriad of motivations and rationale for incorporating online learning into higher education. These run the gamut from increasing revenue to providing more flexible access to instruction and educational content for a broader population of students. However, having all educational experiences simultaneously move online (many mid-semester) in response to a global health crisis is not an ideal scenario. No one would have anticipated this sudden mass exodus from in-person instruction to distance learning, and it's safe to say not all educators and institutions were adequately prepared for it. Even though many colleges have been expanding their online offerings in recent years, the sheer volume of students moving to online courses in one fell swoop was unprecedented. Of course, online education is more than signing up for video conferencing accounts, having educators post resources online, and hoping for the best. Good teaching is good teaching, and good online teaching requires just as much thought, practice, and planning as in- person teaching does. At many institutions, there's already a small cadre of teachers leading the way and embracing the transition to online learning. These educators have been honing their skills in the online format for some time; while others may not have the desire, nor the need to do so. As a result, what we are faced with now is more akin to what one educator referred to as "emergency remote learning," rather than interacting with purposeful, well-designed learning experiences. Educators all over the country are reacting to a crisis situation and trying, in real time, to fit their traditional, in-class experience into an online format. This means that few of the components which could potentially enhance the quality of an online course, for example personalization, adaptivity, virtual labs, or the ability to engage asynchronously, are likely missing. Perhaps the phrase "square peg into a round hole" comes to mind? Not only does teaching online require practice and a shift in mindset, so does learning online. As Kevin Carey wrote in The New York Times 2 in March, "There's a structure inherent to learning on campus, a rhythm and tangibility that keeps students connected to the academic community. Some students easily adapt to a virtual environment. Others don't. Now students [who are] used to learning one way will have to adapt quickly. Research suggests that academically marginal undergraduates struggle the most in fully online classes." The shift to online education for everyone also brings into sharp focus issues of inequity surrounding access and opportunity. Taking online classes requires students to have access to a reliable internet connection—something not possible for all students. In many areas of the country (both rural and urban), internet access is either unavailable or is unreliable; while in other areas, internet may be available, but unaffordable. Many low-income families rely on their phones for internet access, but phones are not an ideal option for completing online assignments or engaging in a virtual learning experience. And even if you have access, you still need equipment such as web cameras, physical space to work and study, and a computer at home, which many students do not have. As a result, many low-income families are worried about distance learning because they don't have devices or internet access at home. Cheating In Online Learning Environments One of the challenges posed by shifting to an online learning environment is how best to administer exams and other graded assignments. By using technology, education can reach more students and has the potential to augment more traditional learning experiences. Technological advances in teaching and learning, however, can also lead to new and easier ways for students to cheat. If they so desire, students can download and save course content, work in pairs or groups (when collaboration is prohibited), share test questions online, use the internet to look up questions, and so on. Like it or not, taking exams at home opens up a world of potential and perceived cheating possibilities. The prevailing student opinion seems to be

Articles in this issue

view archives of Instructor - Academic Integrity in the Age of Online Learning