How Does Academic Dishonesty Affect Online Learning

Academic dishonesty in education—from cheating to plagiarism—can be as detrimental to academic and workplace success as smoking.

Christine Hollen is a journalism graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a recent Huffpost blogger.

Dishonesty and (dis)information move faster than facts — but that doesn’t mean the truth has to keep pace. There’s no “one size fits all” story. We’re moving toward an educational structure of education that becomes increasingly pragmatic and flexible.

Whether in school or online, it’s all about what you learn, how you learn, and what you do once you know the information.

Now, in addition to you, the stuff you’re learning can be used to influence and affect peers, professors, and even potential employers. Of course, the minute someone puts you in a bad light, you should feel free to investigate and find out more. But, if you take your time, do your research, and are careful, those potential repercussions won’t be all that big of a deal.

The use of online resources

Before we go any further, let’s talk about the resources used. These days, you can find a vast array of materials online. We might use Wikipedia — it’s not necessarily written for anyone who’s ever studied Harvard Business School (you can find entire articles about the school’s legendary professor, Seth Godin.)

The vast majority of training materials are in textbooks, or they might have sections you can open to your heart, such as sections on financial reporting or giving presentations. (Always look for professors who lecture online, because they might be used as online training material. That can be both a blessing and a curse.)

Over time, professors and classroom tutorials may become available on the web, in podcasts, or even in reference materials in print. Professional development materials are often available. If you’re looking for an extensive online course or something taught exclusively online, you’ll likely need to apply and pay for it. The costs for traditional physical classes can range between $20,000 and $50,000 per school year. Online classes may be cheaper and can cost less than $200 per month, but they won’t cover everything. The tuition rates and scholarships for online courses vary greatly.

Another important point: Obtaining grades in online classes is a rarity, but that doesn’t mean the course is a failure. If you want to critique one on grades and other methods of grading, you’ll need to research for yourself. Most schools have online classroom evaluations and student assessments to give the students and instructors. Again, you should investigate these methods in order to understand how to grade online classes and programs in the future.

For anyone who’s passionate about a subject, online courses or online courses taught in more than one place are a great tool — a way to practice, to research and to even find new resources.

The case for online courses

In an attempt to broaden course offerings, many colleges and universities have introduced a “global campus.” A majority of Southern California colleges have switched over to a model where they offer online courses on a campus in Beijing.

There are lots of experts on other aspects of education. There are just as many for cybersecurity and digital literacy. If you’re looking for an online class that will help you in one specific area or space, it’s best to do your research first.

Another thing to keep in mind — many colleges and universities have started to reject online transcripts that don’t use the exact same format for each college class. The document that accompanies a successful online transcript must be in clear print and be displayed in a single file.

If you’re smart, and you’re savvy, you should read to understand what’s going on. If you’re dumb, and you don’t have the resources to learn, perhaps it’s best to transfer back to the campus version, or even to the first online class you took.

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