As we are watched and surveilled by those around us — is cheating in plan sight a clever plan against the purpose of the Panopticon — or do we need to pretend online “study aids” are really helpful to the soul and not deceitful against the mind?
Is Cramster.com a “community of learning” or is it just a chance to cheat better in class at $9.95 a month for access to all the answers?
What do you make of “Course Hero’s” claim of being a “learning network” with it 3.5 million “articles” uploaded by students across 425,000 courses and over 3,7500 institutions? According to the New York Times, uploaded material includes notes from lectures, study guides, student presentations, lab results, research papers, essays and other homework assignments.
Perhaps you’d like to see the grade distribution graph on Koofers to indicate which classes are “easier” to take than others?
SparkNotes — from Barnes and Noble, no less — claims to have a higher purpose for higher learning by helping you study. To my eye, SparkNotes looks like a waystation for getting easy answers. You search without needing to think.
I once had a student who copied and pasted an entire section from SparkNotes and claimed the analysis as his own. When I confronted him with his plagiarism, he did not understand the problem and was shocked — SHOCKED! — when I reported him to the Dean’s office for cheating.
When we do not draw a bright line between cheating and honest learning, we create the worst of us for imitation and propagation the world over. We become spiritually lazy and intellectually uncurious and when we can merely “look up” the answers instead of thinking about them to divine the truth, then we lose our moral consciousness and our ethical creativity and our future ability to problem solve is muddled by commerce meddling in the necessary human process of learning from our mistakes.