The Pitfalls of Internet Cheating

There's no denying the boom in Internet cheating amongst students of the digital generation. The Internet has made cutting and pasting just two clicks away from an "A."

The recent Associated Students meeting brought up the issue of an SMC student who created a Web site to post and share notes, exams, and work from classes taught at the school. The site, SMC Notes, is under construction at the moment but previously had sections for leaving comments and posting materials.

According to Deyna Hearn, the Associate Dean of Student Life, the person was identified and is being disciplined on the grounds of breaching the SMC student honor code. SMC was the first community college in California to adopt an honor code, praising "honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility" among the school's fundamental values.

Is creating a Web site to share class work a new era of cheating? According to the Web site Glasscastle, a testing and research service dedicated to academic honesty, cheating has risen "dramatically" during the past 50 years. It is no longer the struggling student who cheats just to get by and pass the course; offenders are above-average students determined to do anything to get good grades.

A simple Google search for "free essays" conjures up dozens of sites offering well-written term papers, essays, and materials. According to an article in the Seattle Times, "The use of the Internet for plagiarism is rampant."

Clearly this defeats the whole purpose of taking a class to actually learn stuff.

The Seattle Times reported that it has become increasingly easy for students to cheat off the Internet and cheating has, in fact, become "an art." Creating essays is something that students are proud of but there is less social stigma attached to how they go about gathering the information.

Teachers are aware of the problem and are fighting back. Communications Professor Sharyn Obsatz turns to to check for plagiarism. The Web site's motto is "Prevent plagiarism. Engage Students." It is a Web site that scans a paper and performs an extensive search for similar work on the Internet, allowing Obsatz to keep her students in check.

This site might have been a major hit, but it would have changed the way we learn, even if we learned. If students know they can just skip class and still have an abundance of information at their disposal, they wouldn't even go. Being in class is an integral part of learning and taking your own notes is just as important.