Academic Misconduct in a High Tech World: Applying Old Law to New Tricks
Concurrent Session 6
Online classes are not the only educational innovation spawned by the advent of the Internet. It also facilitates academic misconduct through student use of online paper mills, test-taking services, whole-class taking services, and course specific crowd-sourced study resources. This presentation examines the current legal environment of such high tech improprieties.
Over the course of 2016, a number of headlines highlighted the underbelly of the Internet in relation to academic misconduct. Cheating has gone high tech and it is no longer a simple matter of copy and paste. The “U. of Iowa Investigates Possible Cheating in Online Courses” talks about students who allegedly recruited others to take their online tests for them. “The New Cheating Economy” examines online paper mills and companies students can hire to take entire courses for them. “Confessions of a Fixer” details how a former coach facilitated a scheme that assisted athletes in cheating their way through college sometimes without the students even being aware of it. Then there are web sites such as Course Hero that provide course specific crowd-sourced study resources. The study resources are organized by university, course name and number, and often include the faculty member’s name as well. Students post the resources for others to use. This sometimes includes tests and assignments with answers.
It is incumbent on today’s educational leaders to address these threats to the integrity of modern education. While the fit may be clunky and albeit not designed with information technologies in mind, there are legal tools that can be employed in response. First, colleges and universities can incorporate relevant academic misconduct policies specifically addressing high tech cheating. Second, it is well established law that colleges and universities can withhold or revoke a student’s degree for academic fraud. This rule does not change when that fraud is perpetrated online. Third, a number of states have laws prohibiting companies from selling term papers to students. Finally, faculty members who find their course materials improperly posted to a crowd-sourced study resources site can get them removed by sending the site a D.C.M.A. take-down notice.
This presentation examines the various forms of modern academic misconduct in today’s high tech environment in light of the old laws that apply to these new tricks.