Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Contract Cheating


image of someone cheating in an exam


I was asked to respond to a paper on the incidence of contract cheating. Here are some thoughts. It is an old chestnut. There will always be those who seek to cheat the system and ultimately themselves. 

We know cheating is on the rise across education - but that is because we are identifying it with the safeguards we have in place. We are constantly providing further mitigation for a potential risk .

I am more comfortable that most forms of contract cheating - particularly from essay mills get picked up by Turnitin - the subtler a friend/parent wrote my assessment is the one that is much harder to mitigate against . The privileged cheats.

You can trick Turnitin - put an essay through auto translate a few times and then rewrite it - this could get you across the line - but you would need to be very careful about referencing and sources - as though your words would be different - they would stay the same. - but it is a lot more work than simply writing a paper. Though you may learn a lot in the process.

I think this all comes down to students making an assertion - as they do every time, they submit work to Turnitin that it's all their own work . In SQA land on portfolios we get teachers to sign off work too saying that they know work to be students own work - academic integrity is for staff and students to maintain.

Perhaps just a reminder that we use similarity detection software and tutors will ask about submitted work to ensure its integrity. I have a question; how empowered do staff feel about challenging the authenticity of a learner's work ? - we rarely get any staff members reporting this to LT team or asking us to investigate .

For students it's the black and white statement in the student code of conduct and disciplinary procedures, to effect, that cheating in assessments in any form is unacceptable and will result in disciplinary action including expulsion.

Does the College keep a record of issues , incidents ? I had access to this in other Colleges as Chair of Learning and Teaching Committee - we saw high level report on all disciplinary issues . Incidence of cheating was low 2003-2019 Anniesland , Clyde, and Kelvin Colleges - higher were disciplinary issues about student conduct in general - we tracked as part of equalities work.

I think in world we are in at moment - cheating could be impersonation and taking notes into a closed book assessment , whispering answer to a friend during a SOLAR multiple-choice assessment , or Whatsapping them - as our invigilation arrangements are perhaps a bit looser than normal due to circumstances.

Perhaps, a piece that makes sure that staff and students know and understand the assessment arrangements for any unit of learning and that these are conducted in a fair and accessible way .

I thought this among many sites offering advice to students on the pitfalls of contract cheating was done well

Turnitin offers advice too.

In end it all comes down too , to the quality of the questions .

There can only be so many essays on things like "Discuss the theme in Romeo and Juliet" , " Explain and evaluate six different organisational types " etc - Where we can the system should offer cleverer and more valid assessments - it makes learning more stimulating and interesting too and that would lower the temptation of plagiarism and make life harder for essay mills.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

We, they, did it again!, and you can too! #oerxdomains21 #Openscot #FEUKChat

 


We do talk a lot of jargon and acronyms in education. 

Please have a read at this.  I hope it makes sense. I live in a bubble of enthusiasts who want to make the world a better and fairer place. You can still be an idealist and be very grounded. When I say that with my Glasgow accent, believe me, you will be convinced. 

Great too that WonkeHE picked up on the conference.

Depressingly , open education is not a feature of the policies of any of the political parties in Scotland in next week's national elections. That's a great pity and shows that UNESCO policy and many years of lobbying still has to find traction in our venerable and perhaps too self righteous Scottish education system.  

When you put your head in the clouds - you come down with a bump.

My head was buzzing with ideas , links , contacts and as ever the global #OER community re-energised and reinvigorated me. Open should really be the way we do education and the final key note picking out open education as being the route to justice and empowerment was a great note to end on. If you are a policy maker perhaps find time to tune into that one session. If you work in any bit of the education system you will find some useful gems in the sessions all recorded and openly available.  Here is direct link to Rajiv's session.

It was great that this years #oer21 was delivered in partnership with the domains conference and became #OERxDomains21 . It meant that we had sessions on policy, practice and the platforms that can be used to deliver open voices and open education. I've a long list of open and cloud based software that I now need to have another look at. 

Special thanks to  Maren Deepwell, Emma-Jane Brazier, Fiona Jones, and now Christina Vines and the ALT posse for keeping the open education fire burning. 

Waving to my Conference co-chairs Jim Groom and Lauren Hanks , Lou Mycroft, and Louise Drumm who were all so great to collaborate with. 

In a UK context, more Colleges than ever before engaged with an open education conference. That is an important landmark. A special shout out too to Nicolas Garcia, Student President at City of Glasgow College , who was not in the least daunted and made a superb contribution to the opening plenary of an international education conference. I still hope we can bring this conference to City of Glasgow College in the future. 

The technology was simply inspiring and set a very high benchmark around how on-line conferences should be run. I am sure there will be a blog post that I will link to here . The short hand is that the team from Reclaim Hosting wove together Streamyard, YouTube and Discord to create a magical experience - you can capture some of it in the recorded proceedings .

Yes, I am a people person and I miss meeting everyone face to face - I don't miss conference travel and cold chicken buffets though, but I do miss conference bonhomie and meeting old friends and new. 

So down to earth  with a bump - back to planning where City of Glasgow College goes next for a virtual learning environment in August 21 and still explaining why positioning content in the VLE or even on the College intranet is not open education - in fact the discussions are actually pre that , it's explaining that encouraging staff to publish anything outside of the College in an accessible way is actually a very good thing for them and the College and most of all for learners , and an email arrived on Friday asking for support on staff and student digital literacies at a national level, an old chestnut , groundhog day.. the open education journey is a long and challenging one. 

For the ALT Scottish Community it's a more modest pow wow next Friday , where we will share two stars and a wish. 

I tweeted my way through the conference while chairing some brilliant sessions, I've curated a selection here. I can't name everyone here but respect and love to all who presented and participated in #oerxdomains21 and I am certain we will meet up further down the trail. It was a pleasure to be involved. 



I even bought the t-shirt 


Think it is fitting I open and close this post with the great art work of Bryan Mathers it was a critical element in pulling proceedings together.